Boating Industry Magazine Survey: Ethanol Gas Plays Big Role in Service Issues
Is adding more corn ethanol into gasoline a concern for boaters? A newly released survey by Boating Industry magazine says “yes.”
BoatUS recently reported on the effects of putting more corn ethanol into gasoline, saying when it comes to recreational boating and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard Program’s requirement, those that see its negative consequences the most are the industry workers that build, maintain, store or sell boats.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, in 2015, about 13.7 billion gallons of fuel ethanol were added to motor gasoline produced in the United States, and fuel ethanol accounted for about 10% of the total volume of finished motor gasoline consumed in the United States.
EIA reports there are three general categories of ethanol-gasoline blends: E10, E15, and E85. E10 is gasoline with 10% ethanol content, E15 is gasoline with 15% ethanol content, and E85 is a fuel that may contain up to 85% fuel ethanol. EIA says all gasoline engine vehicles can use E10 and currently, only flex-fuel and light-duty vehicles with a model year of 2001 or greater are approved by the EPA to use E15.
Boating Industry magazine’s survey points to ethanol as playing an even ‘bigger role’ in service issues than it was a year ago. The magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Sweet says 87 percent of the survey’s respondents reported seeing boat engine damage caused by ethanol, which was up from 73 percent in April 2015.
“Dealers, manufacturers and marinas are clearly very concerned about the increased use of ethanol,” Sweet says. “According to our readers, ethanol is playing an increasing role in causing engine damage and other repair issues.”
The survey was sent to a mix of readers from dealerships, marinas, engine and boat manufacturers around the country, raising concerns of misfueling at roadside gas stations.
“Misfueling is our #1 concern,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Manager David Kennedy.
Gary Stephen Cole, a boat operator in Salisbury, Md., remembers hearing these concerns years ago.
“People that had very expensive yachts that had plastic tanks in their boats, a lot of engines got destroyed because the ethanol had leached out the plastic and it went through the engines and stopped them up,” Cole says.
Although Cole hasn’t heard much talk of this issue in recent years, he has noticed the increasing conversation of ethanol-free fuel in several boating magazines.
“People are really afraid to put ethanol in their boats,” Cole says. “I would be afraid to put it in my boat unless I had an aluminum tank.”
In the magazine’s survey, respondents noted “While ethanol may be helping drive service department business, frequent issues run the risk of driving more people out of boating.” According to Boat Industry, one of the surveys concluded: “Ethanol is a boom for the service departments. Ethanol is a huge drag on our industry because it negatively affects the customers. It makes them hate boating. It ruins their day, their boat and their entire boating experience.”
BoatUS notes, the Renewable Fuel Standard, signed into law in 2005, requires an increasing amount of biofuels such as corn ethanol to be blended into the gasoline supply.