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Ethanol Your Small Engines

Like the family fine china set, beliefs about vehicles, equipment, and fuels are often passed down from generation to generation. Should you buy the green tractor or the red one? Do you drive a truck with the blue oval or the bowtie?

Beliefs about ethanol fuels are also often based on the beliefs of the previous generation. We often hear, “My dad told me not to use E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline) in my boat/ motorcycle/snowblower” along with reasons like “it attracts water”, “it is corrosive” and “it goes bad faster”. Common misconceptions like these cause consumers to go out of their way to find “non-oxygenated” gasoline—gasoline with no ethanol added.

Ethanol is a low-cost, high-octane fuel. Adding ethanol to gasoline increases the octane while reducing the cost of the fuel. If you’ve chosen to purchase non-oxygenated gasoline in the past, you’ve likely noticed a significant increase in price for that fuel. Ethanol is also cleaner than other octane enhancers, reducing emissions harmful to the environment and human health.

A 10 percent ethanol blend is found in more than 95 percent of gasoline sold in the U.S. today. Manufacturers build products with the proper components to run on E10. For more information on E10 approvals by marine engine, motorcycle, off-road and small engine manufacturers visit the Renewable Fuel Associations website at consumers/boats-motorcycles-andsmall-engines.

Ethanol can hold more water in suspension than gasoline. This means that water that may enter the tank is less likely to drop to the bottom and will be pulled through and out of the system as the fuel is used. While there is a lot of talk about ethanol and phase separation, it takes a lot of water for this to occur. Following proper storage and maintenance best practices will prevent this from happening.

Air is not your fuel’s friend. Water in fuel can come from condensation from the air. As temperatures get colder at night or as summer turns into fall, air can hold less water and it will condense into the fuel. Water can also enter through leaks and loose or missing caps. Air also contains oxygen. Oxygen in a fuel tank leads to oxidation, resulting in fuel degradation. Whether it contains an ethanol blend or not, gasoline will degrade if stored for extended periods without proper handling.

About MEG Corp

Hoon Ge, founder and president of MEG Corp, is a chemical engineer with 35 years in the petroleum industry including refining, additive formulation and alternative fuels.

Hoon started MEG Corp in 2005 to provide consulting services to fuel suppliers and fleet managers. As he was starting his company, biodiesel was emerging in his home state of Minnesota, and his technical expertise was called upon to provide support and education to all levels of the distribution chain and other industry stakeholders.

Prior to starting his own company, Hoon worked for several well-known companies, including Koch Refining and Schaeffer Manufacturing. While at Koch Refining for 10 years, he was responsible for blending diesel and gasoline. At Schaeffer Manufacturing, he managed the fuel additives division for 9 years.

In 2020, MEG Corp celebrates 15 years in business. With more than 90 years of combined experience in traditional and alternative fuels, MEG Corp staff has developed strong customer relationships based on industry knowledge, reliable products and services and providing unparalleled customer service.

Writeup obtained via the MEG Corp website

Facts About North Dakota’s Ethanol Industry From the North Dakota Corn Council

1. Economic Impact

The North Dakota ethanol industry contributes $623 million annually to the state’s economy. In addition, state and local tax revenues contribute more than $11 million annually.

2. Employment

North Dakota ethanol plants employ more than 230 workers directly in high-paying positions such as chemists, engineers, accountants, managers, as well as support staff. The industry also supports more than 1,000 jobs across all sectors of the economy.

3. Rural Economic Development

Each North Dakota ethanol plant is located in a community with a population of less than 2,500 and contributes an average of 46 jobs and an average annual payroll of $3.3 million to the community. In addition, the plants purchase the majority of their corn from North Dakota farmers and sell distillers grains to North Dakota livestock producers.

4. Production

The five North Dakota ethanol plants have the capacity to produce 520 million gallons of ethanol per year, which is more than five times the production a decade ago.

5. Consumption

Over the past five years total ethanol-blended fuel sales have increased by more than 16 percent. Approximately 10 percent of ethanol produced annually in North Dakota is blended with gasoline and sold within the state, while the remaining 90 percent is shipped primarily to the east or west coast.

6. Corn Use

North Dakota ethanol plants use 160-180 million bushels of corn annually with more than 80 percent of the corn purchased from North Dakota farmers. Forty to 60 percent of North Dakota’s total corn production annually is purchased by North Dakota ethanol plants.

7. Co-products

Each bushel of corn processed by North Dakota ethanol plants produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 18 pounds of livestock feed (dried distillers grains), 18 pounds of carbon dioxide and up to 1 pound of corn oil. North Dakota ethanol plants produce more than 1.5 million tons of dry distillers grains annually.

8. Infrastructure

North Dakota is a national leader in the establishment of biofuel infrastructure due to the ND Biofuel Blender Pump Program (2009-2013). The state was the ninth to offer E15. The number of flex fuel vehicles (FFV) in the state has increased by 250 percent from 34,630 in 2011 to 121,500 in 2015.

This information was compiled by the North Dakota Ethanol Council from sources including the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association and North Dakota State University.

North Dakota Corn Council

Housekeeping Best Practices

Always check your owner’s manual for fuel and storage recommendations.

  • During the “In-Season”, keep tanks full to prevent air in the headspace which leads to condensation and oxidation.
  • During the “Off-Season”, when storing equipment for an extended period, we recommend filling your tank full and sealing with an airtight cover to prevent air and evaporation. This method prevents wasting of fuel and does not add cost. Emptying the tank and fuel system is another option if there is little fuel remaining that would be wasted. If you do not completely fill or empty the tank, use a fuel stabilizer, running the engine briefly to allow the stabilizer to reach the entire fuel system.

Ethanol is a renewable fuel produced in North Dakota, using North Dakota-grown corn, supporting North Dakota families. You can save money and choose a cleaner, more renewable fuel blend simply by choosing E10 for your small engines.

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