The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has publicly acknowledged that ethanol in gasoline can damage internal combustion engines by increasing exhaust temperatures and indirectly causing component failures, the American Motorcyclist Association (EPA) reports. The EPA statement is contained in a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule proposal about a new label for pumps that supply fuel blends high in ethanol.
EPA admits now that ethanol E15 (a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume) impacts motor vehicles in two primary ways. 1- ethanol elevates the [air/fuel] ratio (increases the proportion of oxygen relative to hydrocarbons) which can lead to increased exhaust gas temperatures and potentially increase incremental deterioration of emission control hardware and performance over time, possibly causing catalyst failure. 2- ethanol can cause materials compatibility issues, which may lead to other component failures. In stating that in motorcycles and non-road products, using E15 and higher ethanol blends creates overheating and raise engine-failure concerns EPA is now supporting the long-held position of the American Motorcycle Association.
None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in operation can use fuels with blends higher than 10 percent ethanol. Doing so could void the manufacturer’s warranty, in addition to causing damage to the vehicle. “The American Motorcyclist Association has fought the distribution of E15 fuel blends in an effort to protect motorcycle and all-terrain vehicles from the damage that ethanol causes,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “Now the EPA acknowledges that ethanol itself is harmful to emissions hardware and other components on all motor vehicles. It is time for the federal government to pause, take a hard look at this product and change its entire approach to ethanol in fuels.