How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline


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How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:57 pm



Ethanol is the scourge of owners of motorcycles, boats, and many other gasoline-operated vehicles and implements. E10 (10% ethanol) is pretty much the only available gasoline in most of the country now, with a few stations offering ethanol-free gas. And E15 (15% ethanol) is coming soon, recently approved by the EPA for 2001 and newer cars - even though the car manufacturers don't want it, and it is not approved for use by any motorcycle manufacturer either. You can thank the ethanol lobby for that.

"E15 won't be a problem - I'll just select my regular E10 on the pump," you may say. Well, there is a problem - the pipes and hose of the fuel pump contain about 3/4 gallon of whatever was last dispensed - and that could be E15. 3/4 gallon isn't much when you're pumping 15 gallons into your car, but when you're only pumping a few gallons into your bike, which doesn't like ethanol to begin with, 3/4 gallon makes a big difference!

What's the problem with ethanol? The biggest problem is phase separation. Like brake fluid, ethanol is hygroscopic, which means it bonds very easily to water. If there is moisture in the air (which there always is), the moisture bonds with the ethanol. The combination of water and ethanol is heavier than gasoline, so it falls to the bottom of the gas tank, where the pickup is. Let your bike sit for any length of time, particularly with a partially-full gas tank (because the air space left will contain moisture, and will expand and contract with heat, sucking in more moisture-laden air), and your tank will have a layer of water/ethanol mixture on the bottom. This is called phase separation. Guess what gets sucked into your engine the next time you start it? The water/ethanol mixture will burn in your engine, but it will burn much leaner and hotter, with the potential for serious engine damage as a result.

Ethanol is particularly corrosive to plastics, rubber, aluminum and fiberglass when compared to straight gasoline. If you have a vintage bike with a fiberglass tank, and are running E10 gasoline in it, the tank is likely swollen and on its way to failure as the ethanol breaks down the fiberglass. Many bikes have developed leaks and problems from swollen gaskets and failed rubber hoses and seals, all as a result of E10.

When E10 is allowed to sit for a long time, particularly somewhere where air can get in, like a normal vented gas tank, the volatile portion of the fuel will eventually evaporate. What's left is a milky goo. This goo eventually hardens into an amber solid, which then cracks into tiny pieces - heading directly into your carburetor to clog jets and cause failures.

Two stroke engines definitely have problems with E10: ethanol breaks down the lubrication provided by the fuel/oil mixture, leading to engine seizures!

So what is the solution? Well, you can check out the web site http://pure-gas.org to try to find a gas station near you that sells ethanol-free gas. Hint: many boat marinas sell ethanol-free gas, because with the added moisture in a boating environment, E10 plays havoc with boat engines.

Or...you can make your own ethanol-free gas. Yes, you heard me right! Make it yourself! I never even thought about doing this, until I read the excellent article "Removing Ethanol from E10 Fuel" by Dave Searle in the December 2012 issue of Motorcycle Consumer News - my absolute favorite magazine. If you haven't got a subscription to this magazine yet, stop reading this right now and go subscribe! I promise you won't be sorry. I've using a few pictures from Dave's article in this article.

So as you can guess, you don't actually make your own gasoline, you take regular E10 gasoline and remove the ethanol. Because ethanol boosts the octane in gasoline, I recommend you start with premium gas. Removing the ethanol from the premium will in the process lower the octane to the equivalent of regular gas. If you start with regular E10, you will need to add an octane booster, available at any auto store, or Wal-Mart.

So how do you remove the ethanol from E10? It's quite simple, actually - just add water! Remember, ethanol binds strongly to water. All you need to do is add some water to the gasoline, agitate to make sure it mixes well, then let it sit for a few minutes. The water will bond with the ethanol, and it will phase-separate out, falling to the bottom of the container.

How much water do you add? Well you can't add too much. If you don't add enough, then it won't remove all of the E10, and what E10 does bond with the water, will separate to the bottom of your container. If you add too much, the available ethanol will bond to the water, and the remaining water will separate to the bottom. You'll then have three layers: gasoline on top, ethanol/water in the middle, and water on the bottom:

Three phase separation
Three phase separation


In Dave's article, he used a cheap plastic separatory funnel with a small valve at the bottom, along with a 500cc cylinder for measuring the fuel and a 25cc burette for measuring water:
Measuring instruments
Measuring instruments


Once filling his funnel with E10, adding water and letting it sit, the water/ethanol separated out, and could be drained using the valve:
Separatory funnel
Separatory funnel


So how much water do you add? It depends on a few things, including the actual concentration of ethanol (which will vary - it's seldom exactly 10%), and ambient temperature. Dave's testing shows that the optimal amount of water is 2% by volume of the E10. That's 2.56 oz per gallon, or 12.8 ounces for a five-gallon gas can. Remember that extra water will simply separate out, so two cups (16 ounces) of water in a five-gallon gas can is safe. You should use distilled water only, to avoid leaving behind any minerals or other additives that your engine may not like (does fluoride keep your carburetors clean?).

The biggest problem - in what sort of container do you perform this procedure? Dave suggested a five-gallon glass or PET plastic jugs, like those that are found at http://www.midwestsupplies.com - fitted with stopcocks and vent tubes.

My suggestion is a bit simpler: Buy a regular five-gallon gas can:



To the end of the spout, glue several inches of large, transparent PVC pipe:



At the end of the PVC pipe, fasten a valve with a compression fitting:



Fill the can with E10, add two cups of distilled water, fasten the spout/pipe/valve, shake well, then turn the gas can upside down - fit it in a sawhorse or some other fixture so that the PVC pipe is pointing straight down. You want the absolute lowest point of the gas can to be the outlet for the spout, so that all of the heavier water and ethanol/water moves out the spout and then into the PVC tubing. Wait for the ethanol/water to separate out and drop down into the PVC (you'll see it), then open the valve slightly to drain out the ethanol/water. Once it's drained out, turn the gas can back upright - and you're done!

Ethanol Extraction Rig
Ethanol Extraction Rig


So do you want to do this every time you fill up your bike? Probably not. But it's certainly doable for small batches of gasoline for use in small engines (lawn mowers, weed trimmers, any two-stroke engine), to put in your bike just before putting it away for the winter (or for storage of any length of time), or for putting into devices that sit for long periods of time without being run - like backup generators.

I'm going to give this a try myself this winter, and I'll post some pictures of it when I do it. If anyone else gives it a try, or comes up with a better idea of how to do it, please post your comments!


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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby ezryder1528 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:32 am

Great idea, simple modification for hanging the gas can upside down. Get one of those cheap "net" hammocks from Walmart, their about 4 bucks. You can suspend the hammock from the ceiling. The gas can spout will fit through the hammock perfectly and cradle the whole can.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby Timma04 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:39 am

Dumb question-is it ok to use 87 oct in the Wing then? It's 10 cents a gallon more but it won't have the E10 crap in it!
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby WingAdmin » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:52 am

Goldwings will run just fine on 87 octane fuel.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby zimco » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:58 am

I have a question.

What do you do with the water and ethanol you drain out?

Is it safe to dump into the drain or is there a better use for it?

Thanks
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby SteveB123 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:30 am

zimco wrote:I have a question.

What do you do with the water and ethanol you drain out?

Is it safe to dump into the drain or is there a better use for it?

Thanks
Dave "zimco"


No, not safe, and much more likely than not, very against the law in any juristicion that can read this post.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby Farther » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:51 am

You have now produced hazardous waste and will have to pay to properly dispose of the ethanol. I suggest you just purchase your fuel from a high through-put, top tier station (Shell, Texaco, CostCo, Chevron, etc.) and ride your bike often to not allow the fuel to set an absorb moisture from the air. If you have to let your bike set for an extended period of time use a fuel stabilizer like Sta-Bil Marine or SeaFoam, (I prefer SeaFoam) go for a short run to get the treated fuel through the system, top off the tank and park it. For all the time you take to make "ethanol free gas" you could be out riding.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby WingAdmin » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:21 pm

zimco wrote:I have a question.

What do you do with the water and ethanol you drain out?

Is it safe to dump into the drain or is there a better use for it?

Thanks
Dave "zimco"


Definitely not safe to dump into the drain. It is flammable - so you could dump it into a steel bucket and simply burn it off. The by-products of ethanol combustion are carbon dioxide and water.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby Jenkinsrawhide » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:30 pm

Here in Tennessee we have Farmer's Co Op stores that sell ethanol free gas. Here in my home town it is about 31 cents higher than the ethanol regular gas sold locally. Guess I will start buying it myself because with a six gallon Gold Wing tank, that would be 6x31=$1.86 more to fill up but at least I would not have to worry about the pitting of the pistons. I learned that ethanol will pit your pistons from a boat mechanic that has torn down many engines. :shock:
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby wingsailor » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:17 pm

I like this. Have to give it a shot.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby Bogator » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:55 am

ALL good ideas, just ride,, burn gas,, but, if you are gonna store for a season then ,by all means, put ethanol free gas in with -----marine stabil------you should be good to go------GOD BLESS--
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby SteveB123 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:02 am

Jenkinsrawhide wrote:Here in Tennessee we have Farmer's Co Op stores that sell ethanol free gas. Here in my home town it is about 31 cents higher than the ethanol regular gas sold locally. Guess I will start buying it myself because with a six gallon Gold Wing tank, that would be 6x31=$1.86 more to fill up but at least I would not have to worry about the pitting of the pistons. I learned that ethanol will pit your pistons from a boat mechanic that has torn down many engines. :shock:


What about your car?
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby drzzzzz » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:48 pm

The Stabil website (http://www.goldeagle.com/) has a lot of information regarding fuel stabilization and Ethanol. I've used regular Stabil for storage of both 2 & 4 stroke engines with excellent results. They have a new product out to treat gasoline with ethanol. Looks like it may be worth a try. Any thoughts?
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby Bogator » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:31 am

Yes, I have tried it , and I keep a bottle in my bags . what it does is ---the enzymes that are in it eats the ethanol in the gas, I can't think of the name of it rat now,---oldtimers-- I think---
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby themainviking » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:05 am

The old version of Sta-Bil is supposed to keep the Ethanol from seperating out over a limited storage period. I believe they say about six months. That should be long enough that it will be time to ride again.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby brad_cad » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:46 pm

I like this idea - Just added to my todo list! Thanks

:P
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby ChasK » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:47 pm

This is a good topic and I'm just joining it, here's my initial thoughts.
1. I don't like ethanol fuel any more than you men. Some Governments, you just can't reach...
2, In my younger, dumber days, I ran it in a car for 188,000+ miles, this car smoked from the day I bought it, when the smoke got so bad I couldn't stand it anymore I tore the engine down. I found the factory cross hatch pattern still on the cylinder walls, everything was still in spec and no noticeable wear anywhere else. The smoke was coming from some of the rings being stuck in the pistons and two of the pistons rings were lined up for a straight path for blow-by. I don't know why the rings were stuck but my theory is age and time (12 yrs). Not even a bad carbon ridge at the top of the cylinder wall, it was there but very minimal.
3. If we are so scared of ethanol fuel being stored in our bike tanks over the winter, why don't we drain the tanks and burn it in our cars? That would be easier than doing all this and living with the possible remorse associated with disposal of by-products and possible harm to the environment.
4. When I winterize my boat (98 fuel injected Mercruiser I bought new), I run 1.5 to 2 cans of straight Seafoam through it. An engine will run on it and I've not had any problems.
5. I'm glad to have the option where I live, to buy 87 octane gas with no ethanol, 89 octane with ethanol, and 91 octane without ethanol (wish it were higher). All 3 have their own hose so I don't get any of what the last guy bought. BP stations.
6. I probably better enjoy #5 while I can.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby ghostvet » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:38 am

Hey all...

Just a thought... I was just reading a couple of weeks ago- the US govt has approved E85 Gasoline. This means it is 85% ethanol to 15% gasoline.

This is being done over the objections of virtually every major car manufacturer out there. In fact, the car manufacturers are saying they will not honor warranty work from cars using E85 gasoline because of the damage it does to the engines.

Just a thought guys and gals... What we do with it I do not know. We know the govt does not make decisions for the good of the people, and this is a prime example.

Safe riding everyone!
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby SteveB123 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:51 am

ghostvet wrote:Hey all...

Just a thought... I was just reading a couple of weeks ago- the US govt has approved E85 Gasoline.



The four domestic majors have had E-85 spec vehicles for about 15 years.
http://e85vehicles.com/
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby ghostvet » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:37 am

SteveB123 wrote:
ghostvet wrote:Hey all...

Just a thought... I was just reading a couple of weeks ago- the US govt has approved E85 Gasoline.



The four domestic majors have had E-85 spec vehicles for about 15 years.
http://e85vehicles.com/


Ummm... I *THINK* only the 2013 majors can run E85. Prior to that, the flex fuel vehicles worked with E10 or E15, not E85. I had a 99 Dodge minivan and currently have a 2000 Dodge minivan and they were both flex fuel for E15.

:roll:
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby SteveB123 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:59 am

ghostvet wrote:
SteveB123 wrote:
ghostvet wrote:Hey all...

Just a thought... I was just reading a couple of weeks ago- the US govt has approved E85 Gasoline.



The four domestic majors have had E-85 spec vehicles for about 15 years.
http://e85vehicles.com/


Ummm... I *THINK* only the 2013 majors can run E85. Prior to that, the flex fuel vehicles worked with E10 or E15, not E85. I had a 99 Dodge minivan and currently have a 2000 Dodge minivan and they were both flex fuel for E15.

:roll:


http://e85vehicles.com/e85-chrysler/201 ... untry.html

E85 listed here back to 2000.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby ghostvet » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:48 pm

[/quote]

http://e85vehicles.com/e85-chrysler/201 ... untry.html

E85 listed here back to 2000.[/quote]


I stand corrected... I guess my van is E85 then.

I still won't use it if I am able not to.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby KB9VBT » Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:49 am

The four domestic majors have had E-85 spec vehicles for about 15 years.
http://e85vehicles.com/[/quote]

Ummm... I *THINK* only the 2013 majors can run E85. Prior to that, the flex fuel vehicles worked with E10 or E15, not E85. I had a 99 Dodge minivan and currently have a 2000 Dodge minivan and they were both flex fuel for E15.

:roll:[/quote]

http://e85vehicles.com/e85-chrysler/201 ... untry.html

E85 listed here back to 2000.[/quote]
I have seen several 2012 and 2013 vehicles the say no more than E20 right on the gas cap. Just because they said it then doesn't mean they like it now that they know what it does to an engine!

Another thought on separating gas and ethanol, gas is very flammable even static electricity will set it off. Plastic gas cans NEED to be grounded even a plastic can on a metal funnel can set them off! Also natural gas furnaces and hot water heaters in the garage where you're doing the separations is a high risk.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby SteveB123 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:39 am

KB9VBT wrote:I have seen several 2012 and 2013 vehicles the say no more than E20 right on the gas cap.


And the gas cap wasn't yellow, was it?

Flex fuel vehicles, by definition, are good to E85. Obviously, what you looked at wasn't a FFV.
No one has claimed that a car makers entire fleet are FFV's.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/flextech.shtml

Q: What was Ford's first flex fuel vehicle?










A: Model T, 1908.
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Re: How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline

Postby SteveB123 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:44 am

ghostvet wrote:


http://e85vehicles.com/e85-chrysler/201 ... untry.html

E85 listed here back to 2000.[/quote]


I stand corrected... I guess my van is E85 then.

I still won't use it if I am able not to.[/quote]

I wouldn't guess about it. If it's a FFV, it'll be labelled as such.


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