From September 2021, regular grade unleaded petrol (95 octane) in the UK is changing. To help in the Government's target of reducing carbon emissions, ethanol content will increase to 10% (E10) from the 5% (E5) currently available on pump. While this is not an issue for modern petrol car engines designed to be operated with E10, users of garden and grounds machinery now face and increased risk of experiencing reliability issues attributable to the increased ethanol content.
Ethanol is a renewable bio-fuel that can be mixed with unleaded petrol in various grades and, when burnt, produces fewer emissions. It is anticipated that the switch to E10 will remove 750,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, for those with modern machines designed to handle E10 fuel, few problems are expected during day-to-day operation. However, ethanol is a solvent that is damaging to plastic and rubber and is the ingredient often responsible for 'gummy deposits' left behind once the fuel has evaporated. The additional ethanol content therefore threatens to shorten the service life of certain system components and contribute towards the poor running of small power equipment.
In addition to issues with reliability, ethanol also reduces the storage life of petrol, through the binding of moisture which then acidifies - in turn, leading to problems for owners who use their machinery infrequently or store them for long periods of time. Many manufacturers, including Stihl, Husqvarna and Honda recommend that fuels containing ethanol should be consumed within a 30-day period in order to minimise the risks.
Being free from ethanol as well as benzene, sulphur and many other harmful substances, Aspen Alkylate petrol offers a clean alternative for both 2 and 4-stroke engines - improving the health and performance of your equipment, the working conditions for the operator and significantly reducing the harmful impact your machinery makes on the environment. The increase in purity compared to traditional pump petrol means Aspen can also be left in fuel tanks for many years without degrading.
While the introduction of more ethanol into regular petrol will reduce environmental emissions, and E5 petrol will remain available in the 'super' grade (97+ octane) at some larger filling stations, the remaining emissions and overall impact on operator and machinery health is still substantially more hazardous than those operating with Aspen fuel.