August 11, 2006
Ethanol + Fiberglass Fuel Tanks =
About a month ago, I posted a piece on Ethanol and its damaging effects on fuel systems. In it, I addressed at length the problems associated with aluminum tanks and also touched on ethanol’s relationship with fiberglass tanks. Since that post I’ve received a lot of feedback, mostly about the small bit I wrote on fiberglass tanks. Here’s what I had to say on that subject:
Plastic and fiberglass tanks aren’t really any better off either. For molded plastic tanks, ethanol increases permeation of the tank walls. For fiberglass tanks, ethanol can cause leaks, but more importantly, there are reports that ethanol causes heavy black deposits on intake valves of marine engines which causes bent push rods, pistons, and valves. Testing is currently underway to fully determine the effects of ethanol on fiberglass tanks.
Since that posting I have learned that the alcohol in ethanol gasoline reacts with and dissolves the resin in the walls of the fiberglass fuel tanks. This eventually compromises the structural integrity of the fiberglass tank, causing them to leak. Additionally, the styrene and related chemical byproducts dissolve and work their way into the engine where they can wreak havoc. Unfortunately, it’s believed that all standard fiberglass resins are attached by ethanol.
I have been told that resin manufacturers do have resin formulations that can be used safely with ethanol, however most of the marine industry has little to no experience with these resins. What’s more these resins aren’t widely available. Though these new formulations could prevent problems in the future, it doesn’t address the thousands of boats today with fiberglass tanks.
The good news is that diesel fuel systems are unaffected so far. So, there’s my update for now, I promise that my next posting on Ethanol will involve some positive news!
Posted by ribcraftusa at August 11, 2006 11:15 AMBack To Index