Ethanol vs Non-Ethanol Fuels

Racing fuel prices often have motorsports enthusiasts turning to cheaper, lower-grade race fuel options, and/or a concoction of additives which promise performance advantages. Ethanol is a common additive – it may be a cheap way to boost performance, but at what cost to your engine?


What Is Ethanol?

Ethanol is an alcohol – namely ethyl alcohol – and is used in biofuel that is obtained through distillation by extracting sugar from corn, sugarcane, wheat and even grass. Its use in the fuel industry has been commonplace for decades – it is added to pump fuels and racing fuels around the world.

Big – but controversial – in America, in particular, ethanol’s primary purpose is to lower fuel emissions to comply with emissions regulations. Ethanol has oxygenating properties as well, meaning it oxygenates fuel, as well as increases a fuel’s octane rating which assists with engine knock.

The Risk of Ethanol Fuels

In motor racing, what you put into your tank is often what you get out. Consider these reasons to stick with pure premium gasoline…

Get the Best Fuel Money Can Buy

Ethanol can be added to lower-grade cheaper fuels, to enhance their capabilities, making it an attractive fuel option. But don’t let the price tag fool you – the fuel you’re putting in is considered low-grade for a reason! As an alcohol, ethanol can cause massive corrosion within your engine, as well as cause rust, and warping or cracking of plastic parts. It’s particularly dangerous for older vehicles whose engines weren’t built to handle flex-fuels and can result in an unsalvageable engine and fuel system.

Avoid Fuel-Phase Separation

As an alcohol, ethanol absorbs water, and that is not something you want in your engine or fuel system. Enough water-ethanol mix in your fuel and fuel tank can cause phase separation, a nasty occurrence where the presence of water causes the ethanol to separate from the actual fuel and sits in layers in your tank – a bottom layer of the water-ethanol mix, and a thick top layer of gasoline. Your fuel system will then pull from either mixture, instead of the ethanol-fuel mixture you put in. Should the water-ethanol mixture be pulled through, you’ll experience a serious loss of power, as well as expose your engine to intense corrosion; pulling from the gasoline layer will also result in a loss of power, as the fuel’s octane rating drops, but may also result in irreparable corrosion to your engine.

The Dangers of Ethanol Fuel Over Time

Apart from the potential damage to your motor, an ethanol-gasoline fuel is particularly risky for vehicles that are not driven regularly, such as show cars or hobby bikes. Ethanol fuel blends have a shelf like – sitting for long periods of time, fuel phase separation occurs. In this situation, vehicle owners would have to clean out their fuel tanks to get rid of old ethanol and prevent phase separation effects. You may also find your tank emptier than you left it, as ethanol has greater evaporation tendency than regular fuel!  

Why Use Non-Ethanol Fuels?

Unoxygenated, non-ethanol and unleaded gasoline is used in top tier auto-racing for a reason – non-ethanol fuels offer users better mileage than flex-fuels, as pure gasoline is more energy-dense than its ethanol-mix counterparts (you’ll also need less of it for this reason!). Another benefit is that there are far less risks to your engine; zero alcohol diminishes the risks of rust, warping and cracking, and a lack of ethanol means you’re less likely to find water in your fuel, avoiding unnecessary corrosion and damage to your fuel lines. All of this means, of course, less money spend on expensive repairs or replacement of parts, as well as better performance!

Still not sure if non-ethanol fuel is for you? Watch our video on the differences between non-ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels for a quick overview! 

Looking for Pure Performance Fuel?

ACCELERATE Special Gasoline – powered by SA Oil, is an oxygen-, lead- and ethanol-free pure gasoline. Specially formulated for high-performance engines, it’s the fuel your engine deserves! Fuel up with us.