Questions and answers about converting to E85

Since I now for several years has interested me for E85 and conversion of cars so should I got a lot of information, but all the rumors and myths about ethanol fuel that has been circulating on Internet and in newspapers have not given me either calm or new knowledge. Such knowledge have I instead been obtain on my own. Some allegations about sulfate and/or glycol which is blended with E85 has truly been mythical and as one become fully indoctrinated to believe in. But what exactly is a sulfate? There could be hundreds of substances but nothing seems to bite that it is sulfate (and glycol) who is extremely damaging for a car engine. It is also strange that the car industry or the companies and institutions who bound strong ties to the automotive industry not have anything to say about this.

Now I see it as my duty to present that has arrived after years of handwritten research.


Question 1: Which is the best to convert to; larger injectors, higher fuel pressure or piggy back (electronic pulse-extender)?

Answer; Electronic pulse extender (piggy back) is best unless your car can't regulate to lambda one (1). Cars with electronic fuel injection (older models) that does not function with E85 is electronically blocked for fuels that require wider opening than gasoline do. It is simply an electronic limitation (safety) but as I said, not all cars are built at that way, many are content to only warn if the fuel has a different character. Sure you can run with bigger fuel injectors or increase the fuel pressure but then you compromise the safety and the function of the fuel system. But in truth it usually work just fine to increase the fuel pressure a few bars - unless it is a carburetor, for then you should switch to a fatter nozzle. Eventually, the problem with getting the cars to accept E85 is something that belongs to the past. Newer cars have a more intelligent and flexible thinking. The ECU is not as consistent and adapts to the end - if one insist on filling up a low-energy fuel like E85, for it is the function LTFT (long term fuel trim) which resets the system.

Question 2: Is there any other way to convert on than with the above methods?

Answer; Yes there is. If you have the right equipment can you program away the lock and get the car to accept low-energy fuels. But beyond the mechanical and electronic method, you can use the chemical method. This is controversial but with the right fuel additives turn the fuel to be more effective so that the fuel computer more easily can accept the fuel. Usually is gasoline and E85 rather dry and with a fuel system based on fuel injectors, that working frantically with constant open and close pulses at a rapid rate - causing wear. If the fuel contains small doses of a suitable lubricant* will the injectors feel much better and function longer. Is also the lubricant good at solving aromatic pollutants can the fuel injectors provide good spray patterns and the fuel will be distributed and thus burn more completely - without any risk of that something clog the injector nozzle. Then I found that some chemicals such as IPA, acetone, glycol and ferric sulfate are opening-reducing, ie they do so that the fuel regular opening time will be less. Thus, for example with E85 which requires long opening - with the help of an additive cause it to be shorter (small duty cycle).

* If we go deeper into ”suitable lubricant” and compare gasoline with E85, one will find that it differs a lot between them. Gasoline for example is made up of many different hydrocarbons and a smaller part of these actually belongs to the lubricating oil group. This can be seen if one carefully distill gasoline (the correct term is ”reduce”). The residue that remains in the digester is in principle comparable to diesel oil. These built-in lubrication components such as gasoline supplies is it much worse with when it comes to ethanol fuels. Ethanol is a single hydrocarbon that is extremely pure in comparison to gasoline. Pure ethanol has no lubricating properties and it has not (for an example) methanol, isopropanol, acetone or xylene either. If one use a individual hydrocarbon as a fuel must one provide a lubricant, otherwise you risk damages of the engine internal parts.

Question 3: What are these fuel additives?

Answer; You can buy them here and there but they are quite expensive. However, there is no additive that I know that are opening-time reducing? The closest in this case is Tripak, but is also quite expensive. The fuel additives I provide are very simple to do oneself and they are very effective and lasting. My ingredients are common and easy to get hold of; diesel, lighter fluid, white spirit, IPA, acetone, ethylene glycol, methanol and copperas. Further are my additives very cheap when they are dosed extremely sparingly.

Claim 1: These mixtures of diesel, white spirit, acetone and isopropanol only sounds odd.

Answer: Yeah right? Contrary to what one might think is not my fuel additives based on neat feelings, but is the result of a considerable number of samples with a modified but fairly typical car. Hundreds of miles has been cover while various compounds and combinations of chemicals have been tested. The result is what can be found here. All additives are opening time-reducing. This reduction can cause ants in the minds of newcomers. The time is related to a fuel injector which injects fuel. The regulation of the fuel is made by to an adjustment of the pulse length for an injector. An injector injects fuel only a short while, but mostly it is closed. That little time is enough to get the engine satisfied, but if the car shall delivery greater traction or power, then of course will the opening time be longer. The small changes of the electrical impulse cannot been seen if one not has a sensitive instrument - an instrument that can measure a duty cycle. The IPE-Gx which I have constructed can measure very small changes in the opening time. As both diesel oil and acetone is opening time-reducing but not in isolation, is a combination of them extremely beneficial. Simultaneously will these solvents clean over a broader spectrum. But if one choose Tripak which not contains naphtha, then one goes missing of the opening time-reduction and the lubrication too - you get a cleansing effect but at what cost? This opening time reduction as my fuel additives cause may appear effect enhancing - it depends on that the automatic fuel adjustment are given more leeway. Is the automatic mode on the border of what is possible to obtain will a time reduction affect as that the margins have been widened. In that case will one feel a difference in torque and engine power. Oddly enough, does not a reduction in the opening time lead to a reduction of the fuel consumption, with the exception of acetone - this chemical reduces both the opening time and lower the fuel consumption! Acetone in the right proportions can cause extreme opening time reduction even though it is dosed extremely sparingly. This is quite remarkable and can be established with my fuel additive UGA (for E85).

Claim 2: If the additives containing sulfate and glycol so it is very damaging to a car engine.

Answer: No, not always. Ferrous sulfate as IPA/acetone and glycol reduces the opening time if the dose is correct. At a incorrect dose can they be harmful but there is nothing to suggest it. Of course I have overdosed them just to see what happens, but nothing harmful happens. Now it's not as simple because sulfate is not a substance, but it is a negative and composed ionic compound -SO4, or a so-called salt. But a salt is acquired only when a sulfate ion combines with a metal-related positive ion. Sulfate can be anything from a lead sulfate to hydrogen sulfate, but also very complex chemical compounds. In and of itself characterized sulfate ions of these traits; harmless/non-toxic, stable... Some sulfates are soluble while others are insoluble and vitriol-sulfates such as copperas is a kind of sulfate that boarder water molecules in the sulfate molecule. And what is the gist of this? It is clear that some sulfates are completely harmless, but of course there are many that not even should be close to a fuel tank.

Question 4: How much choke must one have before the car start - when running on E85?

Answer; This is an interesting issue and has taken some time and effort to sort out. What I have found is that it deals about a specific amount of extra fuel. So if your car/engine gets that extra supply at a cold start, will the engine start. If the car goes with 40% pulse extension (pure E85) it requires at choke seven times the amount of fuel, that is about 280% (instead of 40) and then the engine goes running, regardless of the weather.

Claim 3: It's hard to switch to E85 as the fuel requires a different mapping curve (than gasoline).

Answer; Well, it may be true? I do not know the exact answer on this delicate issue, but my experience says that it goes very well with the mapping that applies to gasoline. You can even stretch and bend the curve for both the one and the other direction without the fuel computer or ditto controller sits against. The only thing I've noticed and that is a bit awkward is the dosage when the engine is cold or when it has not had time to reach the operating temperature. During that time, the engine needs more E85. Usually survive a hot engine with a relatively small over-adjusted amount of fuel at E85-operation. At cold start and the time it takes before the engine has reached the correct temperature requires the engine more fuel. That is why we like to set up the amount of fuel to around 40% fuel increase, when the engine is hot can it handle a 30% increase (compared with gasoline).

Claim 4: The engine oil takes a beating from E85 and since you have to change the oil more regularly disappear the profits to fill up cheap booze.

Answer; Yes it's true - if you do not fix the problem! Once you have converted a petrol car that can run on E85, will the engine oil take care of a lot of extra water from leaching through the pistons (it gets more water than with gasoline). If you do nothing about it becomes the oil worn-out rather quickly and thus no longer act as a lubricant. The culprit is the crankcase ventilation system which does not have time to take care of all the water - it must be more efficient. The colder it is outdoors, the faster the oil become bad (of water). However, I have solved this problem and you can read about it here.

Claim 5: E85 is an unreliable fuel because the fuel quality varies depending on where you refuel.

Answer; Yes it's true! In addition to that alcohol can contain various mystical substances, so can the percentage of alcohol/gasoline vary in a totally unpredictable way. For example, when a station raises the price due that they have switched to winter quality so can it be E85 of summer quality that comes out of the pumps. In addition, the rules are such that the margins for these two qualities are very large which means that it is quite regularly to do so. The difference in quality will also mean that the need for additional opening times will vary. If you have a grumpy fuel control system you can not set the pulse extension once and for all, but must adapt the extension to the current fuel quality. E85 can also board and lodge large quantities of water (about 15% by volume) without being noticed by the driver - in addition to fuel consumption, which increase then.

Question 5: Will the emissions control system working (read: the catalyst), if one mix gasoline with E85 or running on pure E85?

Answer; Yes it does! I myself was not sure whether the catalyst worked if the gasoline contains more than a certain percentage of alcohol (ethanol) but there is no problem. Although the exhaust is much cooler than in petrol mode (due to the high water formation) makes the catalyst great benefit and also if you are running on pure E85. Here there is more to learn from this study. The fact that the catalyst is function on E85, regardless of the alcohol content - is of course also essential when it comes to flex-fuel cars.

Question 6: Formed water in the exhaust system when running on E85?

Answer; What I've seen it seems so... For a period after I had cleared all ceramic inserts in the catalytic converter, so it was pretty much water - in principle the whole system. On the other hand did I not tried to run with gasoline then so I can not tell how much water it was formed when running on gasoline. After I installed a new catalytic converter were the water gone. E85 is probably more water formation than gasoline when oil is receiving more water than when running on gasoline and that I am quite sure at - read on water in the oil higher up.

Claim 6: E85 corrode, attacking and destroying the fuel system.

Answer; It is an old and persistent rumor that now is beginning to give way. My fuel in my petrol car seems to function normally even though I have been using E85 since 2005. Rubber and plastic parts in the fuel can withstand petrol so why would it not tolerate ethanol? I have never seen anyone hit by this, but I know that the problem occurred when Scania converted their diesel engines from diesel to a kind of ethanol fuel (which now also contains large amounts of glycol). Whether they use glycol or not, ripped it hard on the pipes and fuel injectors (which was intended for diesel). But also the flex-fuel cars have been hit by problems in the fuel system. Something in the E85 as the victims had been replenished began to block the car's fuel injectors. Finally the car stopped when the supply of fuel ceased. The reason for this is said to be sulfate, but it most likely was polyisobutylene or PIB. PIB is part of a cleaning kit in petrol, the same petrol that suppliers of E85 ethanol blend it up with. The advantages of PIB has I never really understood and the substance is directly unsuitable when the proportion of ethanol is higher than that of gasoline. The strange thing about this story is that one have heard two commandments; first, it was glycol (from ED95) which clogged the engines and then it was sulfate - or was it both? Sulfate is said to consist of residues from winemaking in southern Europe. The theory is: It is the sulfate which triggers off a precipitation of PIB at the expansion stage after the fuel injectors (in symbiosis with the red dye in E85) - but this is just speculation from us who have tried to interpret the news broadcasts and writings about this mystery.

Claim 7: E85 is more flammable than gasoline.

Answer; Well, gasoline burns more intensely than ethanol but ethanol has bound oxygen and can be ignited by a spark, even in a fuel tank (if the conditions are right). Should a spark ignite gasoline while refueling can not the fire get down and ignite the gas in the tank, but this scenario can actually happens with E85. On the other hand is it harder to ignite ethanol, as it produces less combustible gases. In this case is gasoline more dangerous as it evaporates more easily than E85 and therefore increases the risk of ignition.

Claim 8: E85 has higher octane than gasoline but is more dangerous than gasoline if it would start to knock.

Answer; Yes, but it requires that you have increased the compression in the engine... Since E85 has a higher boiling point and are harder to vaporize than gasoline and are delivered in greater quantities than petrol so would one like to preheat the ethanol before it is fed into the engine. If a fuel pre-heater is available plus the engine has high compression can pre-ignition (knocking/pinking) occur. Occurs pre-ignition with an alcohol such as ethanol becomes much greater damage, compared to gasoline. There is another aspect of this problem. The question could be worded: Can you lower the octane rating of E85 so that it obtains the same value as for gasoline? If you do this, the fuel will be optimal without one having to modify the engine and without the ability to then be able to switch back to petrol again. In addition, the prepared E85 fuel should become more flammable and may be in the bargain; more easy to start? The issue is highly relevant and that is exactly what I've been experimenting with. By adding diesel, that is both highly flammable and also has a low octane should it be a limit where the amount of diesel is optimal, ie making a E85 fuel that have same properties like gasoline the engine once was optimized for... What I have found are that diesel can be mixed with E85, and partly that diesel makes E85 to a better fuel. Diesel is opening time-reducing and lubricates and cleans the fuel system, it also requires in only small amounts: 0.5-1% is sufficient, after this amount makes it no use any longer, not as cold start improver either.

Question 7: Is E85 miscible in city diesel and can one then expect to run a diesel car with this constellation?

Answer; For about four years ago I tried to create a mix-fuel by E85 and city diesel but discovered that diesel only could include up to 20 percent in E85 before a phase separation occur (diesel/gasoline part and a ethanol/water part). These thoughts are very popular today (in 2014), because I received many questions about if one can mix E85 with diesel and then use it as a fuel in a ordinary diesel car. Thus, a sort of homemade ”diesohol” instead of pure diesel oil. About two years ago I tried again to merge E85+diesel and discovered to my surprise that it was possible to mix this two trading fuels arbitrarily! It was thus possible to make a composition of diesel and E85 in which percent formations as well. Recently I did a more extensive test and obtained E85 and diesel from different places, such as: St1, OkQ8, Jet and Preem. All types and makes of diesel and E85 is currently completely miscible with each other (in the summer 2014). I fixed a few constellations that I put water to, in order to see where the boundary of phase separation goes.

However, one must keep in mind that a high content of diesel in ethanol increases the risk of phase separation, as diesel and ethanol not are miscible normally. It is temperature and the possible water content that determines when phase separation occurs. Apparently one can mix arbitrarily in room temperature or warmer, but when the temperature drops occur layering / separation of ethanol and diesel oil (when it gets warmer again resets the compatibility if stirring so happens). A low content of diesel is preferable - I have found that if the concentration of diesel in (today's) E85 not is higher than 20% so can this fuel handle down to 0 º Fahrenheit without any separation begins. I even tried how much IPA (isopropanol) which is required for a 50/50 mix to sustain the 0 º limits and came to the conclusion that one then must add 10% IPA - this provided the water content of the mixture is very low or less than 1%.

Water absorption Diesel+E85

A similar test has been carried out here but then considering how different configurations of IPA in diesel affects the impurity content of the exhaust. It is shown that 75/25 (75% diesel and 25% IPA) is the most successful composition environmentally but also in performance. Ethanol is usually not mixable in diesel but it may also depend on the level of water in this alcohol? If one for an example trying to mix methylated spirit with diesel so will them immediately be stratified. Diesohol is a mixture of diesel and ethanol with 5% water in - the fuel is not a mixture in that meaning those substances are dissolved in each other, but is an emulsion of this two components. This can be accomplished by substantially stirring a batch of diesel-fuel and ethanol, or by using a cutting pump. Absoluted anhydrous ethanol on the other hand may well go for blending with diesel directly.

Different experiments that took place in the summer 2017 resulted in the answer to the question: who determines that ethanol can be mixed with diesel? The answer was given to me when the experiments were over and it's all about - the ethanol's content of water! If the ethanol is absolute (ie anhydrous) then it can be mixed in diesel in any proportion. Then it is the proportion of water that determines when and in which constellation; diesel and ethanol settle. Previously, I was not quite sure but the suspicions about insufficient dried E85 were there, which I now understand.

The only way to get information about this bumpy problem is to do own investigations. Searching on Internet or attempting to contact manufacturers is just waste of time. The method I come up with is quite simple and is about drying methylated spirit / ethanol with a desiccant that can be bought on eBay - Molecular Sieve as it is called. So pour about one tablespoon of molecular sieve (3A) into a deciliter of methylated spirit and allow standing for a few days. After that, all water has been absorbed by this chemical desiccant and the alcohol is equal or close to 100% concentrated. The difficulty is to regenerate the sieve so that it can be used again. The method that seems best is to use a hot air gun and a laser thermometer. The temperature should rise to 200 degrees C or higher. One then build E85 of this (extremely) dry methylated spirit by mixing with alkylate petrol.

The result with the 100% liquor:
When tested Car Wise Red Ethanol (Mekonomen) did it not tolerate any water according to the ”diesel test method”, ie zero water drops in a mixture of 10 ml E85 and 10 ml diesel. However, when I used Biltema's methylated spirit (which also contains IPA) so accepted this one drop of water - but the other droplet gave rise to grueling. Lastly tested three drops of water in the Car wise variety, which is normal if compared with E85 in trade. Then I added IPA until the cloudy disappeared and it required 2.7 ml which is the same as 21% IPA. Something in E85 (the Swedish trade) is thus equal effective from a water absorption view as 21% IPA in home-made E85...

So how is it now? Is it possible to run a diesel engine on 50/50 diesel and E85 without risking expensive repair costs? And what about the water? Tolerates a diesel engine to take care of water dissolved in the fuel? Will it not result in an early death for the diesel pump? Etc. From what I know about my skills and experience, there is nothing to worry about. Taking into consideration that there already is a regular ethanol fuel (with no diesel oil at all) which is intended for former diesel engines - so can it be compared with a 50% variation where diesel fuel is included. Consider that diesel oil lubricates 1000 times better than ethanol. Thus, one uses ED95 in a part of a bus fleet where even trucks are included. ED95 containing less than 5% lubricating components - compared to a constellation of E85 and diesel where the diesel content is at least 20%. The diesel pump works for ED95 even when one occasionally fill the tank with aqueous ED95 - maybe 1% instead of 0.1%. Another problem one not have to purchase is formation of diesel bacteria in the tank. Contains the diesel so much alcohol can those bacteria not survive and possibly water that coming in get tied directly into the alcohol. And then I have apart from other synergies such as cleaner emissions, less soot, low viscosity, stability at low temperatures, cheaper, and more.

Question 8: Is diesel an option as a lubricant instead of two-stroke oil for two-stroke engines?

Answer; Another interesting aspect regarding diesel is whether it can be used as a lubricating component instead of trade two-stroke oils. You simply mix diesel in petrol while the diesel acts as a fuel too. I know people decades ago who ran their mopeds on pure diesel instead of gasoline, which actually worked (despite the decreasing octane) - additionally consumed less diesel than with gasoline. The moped (two-stroke engine) had to be warmed up by petrol before the shift to diesel oil could be made. One drawback is the smoke exhaust diesel then create. Another interesting offshoot is whether one can convert a moped or a two-stroke machine and then mix diesel in E85 instead of two-stroke oil - simultaneously decreases the octane rating. Sounds like a very optimum and synergic combination to my ears, not least from an environmental perspective?

Question 9: What are my recommendations on percentages of E85 in diesel and other constellations?

Answer; The answer I usually give for questions regarding problems with diesel and bacteria is (suppose that I am the manager of an oil company): A 5% admixture of IPA (or anhydrous ethanol) in all diesel oil. This would eliminate the problem of water stratification in the fuel tank for all operating areas. Especially boaters who always have been confronted with slimy deposits would benefit most from such a framework, but also the places where diesel is stored for a long time; one example is the diesel tanks at stations, that even where drawn with foci of slime growth in water layer. This has the consequence that when the diesel starts to ebb and a customer comes to visit for refueling, is obtained not only gas but also water and bacteria - in the bargain. Another scenario is when the diesel cistern just has been filled, because then everything has been moved around and then one should at least wait awhile before refueling. If one choose to refueling half of each with E85 and diesel so is it not to be recommended, because the risk of stratification / phase separation at decreasing temperatures. The 80/20-layup should work year round unless the winter becomes too severe. On this site have I listed ”sensible” alternatives. A little diesel has to be there because the diesel stand for the self-ignition. The lubrication should not be a problem (read about lubrication problem under question 7). The amount of diesel oil into gasoline or E85 that will replace regular two-stroke oil regarding two-stroke engines, would I estimate to 7% - a seven per cent involvement (perhaps 5%) of diesel - so that the engine internal parts provide the necessary lubrication.

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