With ethanol-blends and other biofuels becoming more prevalent in the market, it's more important than ever that dealers, marinas, boatyards and boaters pay more attention to what’s going in the tank, whether it’s the fuel they use or the additives they choose.
Most in the industry have gotten used to dealing with E10, the 10 percent ethanol blend that makes up much of the country’s fuel supply and is found at most gas stations and marinas. Additionally, more and more Biodiesel blends are becoming available. They can cause poor performance and severe damage to marine diesel engines.
E15 – a 15 percent ethanol blend – has been gaining traction as the ethanol industry looks to get more of its product into the marketplace. While the Environmental Protection Agency has approved its use for 2001 and newer automobiles, it is prohibited in marine engines and small engine applications.
Despite that, with its availability at gas stations, its important to make sure your customers understand the dangers of using E15, which industry research has shown destroys marine engines. Research by BoatU.S. shows that two-thirds of boaters fill their boats at gas stations rather than a marina.
There are similar challenges with diesel, with many states ramping up their requirements for biodiesel, which can rob the fuel of power and performance and cause fuel to become unstable more quickly.
“So it’s important to educate your customers about where they fill up, as well as what additives they use. There are plenty of basic stabilizers out there, but spending a little more for the right additive can save a lot of money in the short term” stated Marvin Griffin, President of ValvTect Petroleum Products.
To combat ethanol issues, dealers need to look for a multi-function additive that includes a stabilizer, a corrosion inhibitor, a moisture dispersant that holds the moisture in suspension to help prevent phase separation and a detergent that will prevent deposits forming in the engine.
When it comes to diesel fuels, low-sulfur blends and biodiesel can cause similar problems, but in addition to the components needed for ethanol blends, additives used for diesel fuel also need to contain a biocide that will prevent or kill bacteria.
Dealers should also ask how the additive is tested and does the testing meet ASTM specifications.