Florida motorcyclists may be wondering if E15 gasoline, a mixture of 15% Ethanol to 85% gasoline, will be invading their fuel tanks anytime soon. The current blend is 10% to 90% or, E10. The short answer is, no. Not yet, at least. Although some states have embraced the E15 blend with enthusiasm, Florida isn't one of them. In fact, according to greenautoblog, Florida repealed the law requiring even a 10% blend in gasoline. Gov. Scott signed the bill into law July 1, 2013 but hold your applause. This doesn't mean E15 won't be coming. The repeal just removed a state law which duplicated and somewhat contradicted the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard. The repeal appears to have been more administrative. So theoretically, E15 could be coming, mandated from a Federal level unless the state blocks that somehow.
This repeal is old news but recent developments at the Federal level were reported by the American Motorcyclist Association. In a November 15, 2013 update, the AMA cites that E15 introduction may stall in 2014. This is reportedly due to an over saturation in the current market of E10 gasoline and all the outcries from organizations like the AMA and lawmakers alike.
The issues with E15 are numerous. E15 is supposedly safe for use in cars and trucks manufactured after 2001, but is not safe for use in motorcycles, ATV's and other small engines, including marine. E15 can cause significant damage and may void manufacturers warranties, according to the AMA.
The primary issue with ethanol fuels is the attraction of water to the ethanol. Mixed in the proper percentages, ethanol contributes to the fuel's octane. If burned in an engine designed for the fuel with ethanol resistant non-metallic parts like hoses and gaskets, the fuel is fine. In vehicles such as motorcycles and those with fuel storage a fraction of an automobiles capacity, an increase of .45-.5% of water in the fuel can trigger phase separation, where the ethanol separates from the gasoline. This leaves a lower octane gasoline, water and ethanol not blended, but separated. Motorcycle Consumer News illustrated this in a some tests they published. Using garden-variety measuring beakers and containers, they achieved phase separation quite easily. Throw-in the ethanol sensitive parts of motorcycles, ATV's, lawn mowers and boat engines and the destination is damage city.
Motorcyclists need to maintain awareness of the E15 status. The AMA website has ways to sign up for legislative or action alerts. When an E15 or other issue of impact to the community arises, a legislative alert is a way to learn about the issue and also take action.
Meanwhile, for those motorcyclists with vintage or other pre-2001 bikes, small engines, maybe a boat motor or two, purchase non-ethanol fuels. These can be obtained at a variety of locations, such as auto parts stores and motorcycle dealerships in 5-gallon cans. If that's impractical, use a fuel additive that treats the ethanol. Research online to find a good additive. Check out this article in Rider Magazine for a peek at a few of them.
Grab a smart-phone and search for apps that identify non-ethanol gas stations. There are a bunch of them out there, but certainly not on every corner. Apps like those available from Pure Gas can help.
E15 may be slowed for now, but probably not forever unless the Feds simply drop the integration of the fuel. It's possible, if enough states join the outcry bandwagon. Keep informed and know the ethanol sit-rep. It's a big deal for manufactures and owners alike.