E10 fuel threat to UK

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Not satisfied with the threat to outlaw combustion engines in the near future and to replace them with electric powered vehicles, the British Government’s latest box-ticking exercise in the name of ‘reducing emissions’ is to introduce E10 fuel containing 10% ethanol.The Government claim that E10 is a form of “cleaner” petrol, aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions. For those unaware, the E10 refers to 10% ethanol mixture being added to the petrol, the current rate in UK fuel being 5%.

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Refuelling our 1958 and 1969 Lambrettas with petrol in the UK in 2019.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary said the Government was, “consulting on plans to make it the standard grade at British filling stations from 2021.” The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 19 April and you can have your say by clicking through this link.

We’ve written about the dangers of ethanol in fuel before at ScooterNova magazine here. While Shapps claims that E10 petrol, “had the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by about 750,000 tonnes per year or the equivalent of 350,000 fewer cars on the road,” we would argue that users of older, classic vehicles are already doing their bit for the environment by using such vehicles, thus recycling. Has anyone actually looked at the impact of producing a new car, motorcycle or scooter again reusing an older one for example?

The danger E10 poses to older vehicles is potential damage to rubber, plastic and fibreglass components, and we necessarily mean really old ones either. It was only a few years ago that an Italian motorcycle manufacturer had an issues with fuel tanks on brand new bikes being damaged by fuel in the USA.
In fact, according to the Goodwood Road and Racing website, “owners of cars registered prior to 2002 are advised not to use E10 in their vehicle in order to avoid damage to seals, plastics and metals, caused by bioethanol’s corrosive properties.”
Another issue is that bioethanol is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. Therefore, the longer fuel sits in underground tanks at petrol stations then the more diluted it becomes, thus reducing its octane rating.

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The Retrospective Scooters electric conversion for a classic Lambretta (their Vespa conversion is pictured at the beginning)

Currently petrol in the UK contain up to 5% bioethanol, known as E5. The E10 blend is already used in many European countries, but as regular travellers to the continent we know that from France to Poland, Spain to Italy, Germany, Netherlands and plenty more that E10 sits alongside other options in many petrol stations. The concern in the UK is that as always, a knee-jerk reaction by our politicians without much research will likely do more harm than good.

And that’s before you discuss the situation in developing countries where farmers choose to grow a more lucrative fuel crop for the global petrochemical giants rather than cheap food for local human beings, thus putting the price of a basic, staple diet up and out of the reach of many in poorer communities.

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Refuelling our 1958 and 1969 Lambrettas in the Czech Republic, 2019, with plenty of options at the pump.

“Before electric cars become the norm we want to take advantage of reduced CO2 emissions today,” Shapps said. He didn’t mention of course how he plans to make electric vehicles both affordable and practical for everyone in the UK, or indeed why the government are messing about with our petrol now rather than researching how the 1.2 million or so people living in high-rise flats in the UK will be able to charge the electric vehicles the Government want them to be using soon.
So a reminder, please visit the consultation and have your say by clicking through this link. You never know, someone may listen to us…

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