Ethanol fuel scare-mongering dispelled

Published by Gill | 4 Comments

BMF dispels ethanol hype

There have been various scare stories around about E10 but the BMF’s Chris Hodder can now give us chapter and verse about what is the most likely scenario:

“First of all, there is currently NO legal obligation for petrol companies in the UK to supply only E10 fuel.  However, they do have to sell a significant proportion of their stock as renewable fuel and this will only be achieved by selling higher amounts of ethanol which will almost certainly be E10 (i.e. a blend of 10% ethanol with 90% unleaded petrol).  What you may not know is that current 95RON petrol is actually E5 (i.e. a 5% ethanol and 95% petrol).  This has been the case for several years.  This means that E10 will be a doubling of the current ethanol content which is less significant than replacing 10% of fuel with ethanol outright.

Nearly all petrol vehicles currently on the road can happily use E5 and between 83% and 92% can use E10.  The manufacturer will be able to tell you whether your vehicle is compatible or not (not much help for the classic community, I know).  If you are unsure, you will still be able to buy E5 for many years yet, although it may be the Super Grade option, rather than the cheaper version.

To be absolutely clear:

E10 will be labelled as Unleaded 95 E10
Most vehicles will accept E10, but check with the manufacturer
E5 (current “unleaded”) will be available if you are unsure or your manufacturer tells you your vehicle is incompatible
If your vehicle is incompatible or you don’t know, please be cautious when travelling in Europe and filling up as different rules may be in operation.”

  • Steve Rowe

    In your article you say:

    ‘If you are unsure, you will still be able to buy E5 for many years yet, although it may be the Super Grade option, rather than the cheaper version.’

    I would be grateful if you would clarify this, in so far as where this come from, as there is talk of a ‘protection grade’ and I have been in touch with Norman Baker MP from the Department of Transport who confirms that this is the case up and till 2013 but what happens after he does not know as it is under review by the European Commission.

  • Chris Hodder

    Hi Steve,
    Our source is the Petrol Retailers Association. Norman Baker is discussing events at EU level whereas this article is about what will happen on the ground.

    • Steve Rowe

      Chris thanks for that and just to let you know I had this reply from the Department of Transport:

      “Your email of 2 December about E10 (10 per cent ethanol in petrol)
      was passed to the International Vehicle Standards Division and I have
      been asked to reply.

      We recognise that older vehicles already in service need to be
      supported by availability of a “protection grade” fuel. Industry
      estimates that around 20 per cent of the current UK petrol fleet are
      incompatible with E10. The Government does not believe that the amount
      of ethanol in petrol should be raised from the current level of up to 5
      per cent to up to 10 per cent while a significant number of vehicles
      which are not compatible with this new standard remain in service.

      There is currently no agreed British fuel standard for petrol ethanol
      blends of up to 10 per cent. The preparation of a British standard for
      E10 has been waiting on the European Committee for Standardisation, who
      are expected to publish a standard in the next few months.

      Any decision to supply E10 is a commercial decision to be made by
      fuel suppliers. It is not required by UK legislation or prevented from
      being supplied under UK legislation. However, we are now working with
      industry so that, when the time is right, E10 can be introduced with
      motorists having had sufficient notice and information about the new

      I hope this is helpful.

      Yours sincerely,

      Dwight Lobban”

      Nice to see the Government recognises there is a problem – only
      concern is that if the introduction of E10 is a commercial decision and the

      number of vehicles becomes insignificant – where do we go then.

  • RobinPClarke

    I have been having severely stinging eyes for the past 6 months. Which is severely disabling me.
    is now clear that that is caused by peroxyacetyl nitrate pollution
    caused by ethanol added to petrol. This increased use of ethanol needs
    to be halted. The way to reduce fossil fuel use is to reduce vehicle
    miles instead.