As the biofuels industry continues to grow, acceptance within the community grows too.
In spite of this, some myths about ethanol, biodiesel and their renewable stablemates remain. Here we dispel those myths to prove once and for all the efficiency and effectiveness of biofuels.
Incorrect. Biofuels in Australia are produced from waste streams and by-products, so there is no conflict with food production or human consumption.
Fact. The vast majority of vehicles produced after 1986 can use blended fuels. For example, in 2009, 99.44% of the cars produced in Australia could take an ethanol blend. If you are still unsure, check with your vehicle manufacturer for confirmation.
Fact. You should always check with your manufacturer, but you can use blended fuels in virtually all vehicles, trucks and machinery and experience no problems whatsoever.
Incorrect. Biodiesel and diesel fuels burn quite similarly in diesel engines. In fact, biodiesel has some specific advantages, such as better lubricity, reduced engine and fuel pump wear and tear and, quite often, a longer engine life.
Incorrect. Biofuels produce significantly less CO2 emissions over the full life cycle of production through to use.
Incorrect. Biodiesel has a higher cetane number (which means higher ignitability) and actually combusts more completely because it has a higher oxygen content.
Fact: Biodiesel is a good solvent and will clean out the bad diesel fuel residues left in the fuel tank and lines. Because it is such a good solvent, this means that rubber fuel lines and gaskets might be degraded – but since 1990, most vehicles don’t have rubber fuel lines and gaskets.
Fact: In Australia, biofuels are produced from waste streams, so this is not an issue for Australian biofuels. However, the argument is often heard that biofuels are causing the destruction of Amazonian rainforests. The Amazon is as far away from Brazil’s biofuels production areas as the Vatican is from the Kremlin! Remember – what is true in other parts of the world is not true in Australia.
Fact: Biofuels do currently attract a lower excise rate than gasoline and diesel, in the same way as other fuels such as LPG and LNG. However, this lower excise is due to the lower energy content of the product and also to encourage the public to use alternative fuels that are better for the environment and reduce our reliance on the imports of oil. Most of this reduced excise is actually passed straight through to the consumer, so biofuels blended fuels are usually cheaper than non-blended options.
Fact: Incorrect. There are hundreds of other factors that affect food pricing though, including supply and demand, population growth, drought, floods, transport costs, regional pests, diseases, labour costs, taxes, a consumer’s personal choices, costs of oil, corporate profits and the like.
Fact: The opposite is true! Biofuels help your vehicle run more efficiently and cleaner, which results in lower emissions of particulates and noxious gases and better air quality in our cities.
Fact: Ethanol has a much higher octane rating than gasoline and at higher blends there can be a significant increase in power. As an example, the V8 Supercars in Australia use high octane fuels – ethanol fuels –in order to increase their power ratios.
Fact: You might find that a blended fuel increases your fuel consumption by a small amount, perhaps between 1 and 3%. However many other factors can also have an impact such as that percentage – individual driving styles, torque, roof racks and tow bars, tyre pressures and road conditions.
Fact: Most cars manufactured since 1986 to run on regular unleaded petrol (ULP) are recommended by their manufacturer as E10 compatible. In addition, BP in particular guarantees that its E10 product is fully compatible with any vehicle manufactured after 1986 that is designed to use regular ULP. Refer to the BP web site for further details and conditions of the BP fuel guarantee (View Guarantee PDF here). For vehicle manufacturers’ recommendations on the suitability of E10 for particular vehicles and for links to manufacturers’ web sites go to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ web site. It is important to note that the standard E10 that is available in NSW is a blend of 90% regular grade (91RON) unleaded petrol with 10% ethanol. It is designed as a replacement for regular ULP. Although E10 has a higher octane rating than straight ULP, it is not a substitute for premium unleaded petrol (PULP) which is 95RON or super premium 98RON. If your vehicle requires PULP, you should continue to use 95RON or 98RON petrol as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. A number of fuel companies also offer premium blends containing 10% ethanol that do meet the requirements of high performance engines. If your vehicle is suitable for 10% ethanol you can safely use these premium ethanol blends.
Fact: It is always important to check with your vehicle manufacturer. However it should be noted that this is a problematic issue as most manufacturers will only warranty against their parts and workmanship. This means they will not warranty against ANY fuel, biofuels or otherwise. Generally warranties won’t cover problems caused by any external sources, but can’t be voided if the problem was unrelated. Most manufacturers do support lower blended fuels, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily prohibit higher blends.