ethanol , how to prevent contamination ?

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by privilege, Sep 18, 2021.

  1. privilege

    privilege Member

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    this is the second time I've pulled nasty looking contaminated fuel from the same tank in two weeks, after filling from two different stations hundreds of miles apart. high turnover stations, that were not in low lying/poor drainage areas.

    87 octane (90%) with (10%) ethanol as the starting contamination.

    this tank normally sits inside (70f /70* humidity ) , until we go riding (95f / 90*humidity) and then home again.

    this is the second time I've had to drain the tank and fill with fresh fuel, in order for it to start, idle, and run as intended.

    I pulled some of the top layer (cloudy yellow) off and it lit/burned normally.

    I pulled the bottom layer (yellow chunky orange juice looking) off and it would not ignite/burn.

    if we can put aside the known lobbyists for corn fuel and big oil for a minute, and have a discussion about what causes this, I would really appreciate it I'm looking to keep this small engine running for many decades (the kids first bike) and want to know how to eliminate this kind of contamination in the future.... alone with the reasons for the contamination.

    my guess:

    ethanol in the fuel is going from low humidity (garage) to high humidity (riding) and soaking up tons of water from the air... then congealing in the bottom of the tank after the bike sits.

    we push it out of the garage, bounce it down the road and mix up the contamination along the way, then the bike runs cert poorly if at all, until it's jammed up with the badly contaminated fuel, and dies.

    I know I can run pure gasoline in the tank and cut this process down considerably.

    I'm curious if the above scenario is logical, and how to prevent the ethanol from contaminating the fuel in the future, if the availability of real (pure) gasoline is no longer available.

    I really don't want this stuff in my Prius tank it my small engines, and if I have to pull it off the bottom of the fuel, do you know how the octane rating will be effected ?


    thanks !
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  2. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    With all due respect, you KNOW no such thing.

    Simply having 10% ethanol in the tank will NOT cause contamination like that.
    It just won't........by itself, for relatively short periods of time.

    Then......nobody can really make an intelligent guess without knowing what type of design you are talking about.
    2 cycle engine or 4 ?
    Air cooled or water cooled ?

    The picture you posted looks kind of like coolant contamination.......but it would be really unusual for coolant to get into the gas.
     
  3. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    Was the gasoline in the water bottle collected from the car gas tank? I would buy an approved gasoline container, go to the gas station fill up a gallon into it, and let it set for a couple of weeks. Then pour the gas into a water bottle. If the contents inside the water bottle looks similar to the photo you posted, we ll know it’s the gas from the station. If still looks like it was dispense from the pump tap, there maybe an issue with your vehicle.
     
  4. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    Yes, 100% gas works, I have seen it sit over a year in a small engine like a bike or mower and function. If not available at a station near you you can buy quart cans at Home Depot / Lowes. Stabilizer is an option, just not as good as 100% gas. If the bike is used every week 10% ethanol is ok but it has to be run empty for storage.
     
  5. jzchen

    jzchen Senior Member

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    EtOH is flammable. I ran into an E85 pump and I was amazed at the 113 Octane rating.

    That looks like someone put sugar in the tank, some sort of gelling/precipitate. (Got a camera to watch it at night?)
     
  6. Grit

    Grit Senior Member

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    There’s a feller on you tube that goes by the channel of project farm, he stored different type of gasoline octane ratings and after a year he tested each by burning and other tests. He even mixed stabilizer in one of the test before letting the gasoline sit in storage.
     
  7. rjparker

    rjparker Senior Member

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    I watched that video. However the big problem with small engines is clogged carbs with ethanol left in them too long.
     
  8. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Is the tank vented to open air all the time? You can only condense so much water out of the air in a fuel tank, unless the thing is open to let fresh moist air in.

    Honestly it sounds to me like you got two shots of gas with water already in it.

    Maybe next time try filtering it through a natural chamois during the fill? Gasoline goes through, water doesn't.
     
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  9. privilege

    privilege Member

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    less than a week from the pump to this contamination.

    it's a 4t oil cooled 125cc engine.

    it's vented through the gas cap, with a piece of fuel line that runs down through the triple tree. the vent is clear and free. the cap is clear and free. the carb was cleaned before this happened, this was pulled from the float bowl, then half a cup was flushed through the bowl and splashed out with fresh fuel.
     
  10. privilege

    privilege Member

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    this is from the motorcycle fuel tank.
     
  11. privilege

    privilege Member

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    agreed. I haven't seen this problem with gasoline. I am concerned about the very short period between the pump an this contamination of ethanol fuel.

    I'm hoping that it's possible to drain off the lower orange juice looking contamination and still use the upper fuel... not for today but in case this becomes the norm from ethanol contamination in humid climates.
     
  12. privilege

    privilege Member

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    I've heard the tuner (turbo users) like it for it's resistance to detonation, but I'm not in those crowds, so I can't confirm.

    yup, which is why I was puzzled it did not burn. I assumed the ethanol pulled a lot of water from the air and made it unusable/not flammable, but I really don't see how that could happen in a week or less.

    as far as sugar/evil things happening... that's possible. the evil person would have to get past the camera(s), very protective furry beast, protected garages, and maze of other vehicles to find this one. the last time it happened was 200+ miles from home... so if it's one of the family members that love using this small engine I would be surprised.

    I was showing the kids how water looks like orange juice jelly in the bottom, and explained how it would prevent the fuel from traveling up the needle, and they asked where the water came from. I had to admit I wasn't sure, as I didn't think that much could condense from the air in a week.
     
    #12 privilege, Sep 19, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2021
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  13. privilege

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    yes, it's openly vented to atmosphere through the top of the tank.

    hmm, to do the champs thing I would have to use a gas can (portable) and then do not know that into the motorcycle through the filter. I don't wanna accidentally end up with a spill at someone's station if I screw up the filtering (ham fisted goober over here) or have a smelly rag in their garbage for the next guy.

    I had thought about using an in line filter, but in the past they always had flow issues in fuel systems that weren't pressurized. maybe I need one for inspection at least
     
  14. jzchen

    jzchen Senior Member

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    So did some research and I personally have experience with cars that sit, for extended lengths of times, ie into the years. Usually they start right up as long as I keep the batteries charged/maintained.

    One thing I didn't initially know about is the moisture/water issue. So to prevent that as best as possible one would try to keep the tank full as much as possible. Less air in the tank, less moisture to absorb. Now I noticed you said this is some sort of non-sealed motorbike fuel tank but is stored indoors? So the room/storage space ends up smelling like gas? (Hoping the answer is no and there is some sort of sealing). Then the best would be to keep a portable tank with gas, and after every use of the bike top off the tank, at the storage location...

    Regarding the octane rating question I missed and now saw rereading the initial post. At least here in CA the octane rating is for the fuel as a whole. So 87 octane includes the EtOH. If the EtOH drops out of solution as shown, then the remaining fuel will have less than 87 octane rating. I don't expect ethanol to absorb much water I think I saw 0.5 % for saturation somewhere which is very low, IF that is accurate I don't personally know. (Like I note cars sit in the household for years, there are 14 in my household currently, of which some may not have a full tank of gas. One sprung a leak and the fuel tank is probably empty).

    As I just learned reading about the water in tank contamination issue. Always get a receipt at the station so if there is water contamination you have evidence and can ask them to (politely- how I would personally ask) repair your vehicle....

    EDIT-. I haven't seen a pure gas pump in years living here in CA. I assume/I'm pretty confident that the fuel in the tanks are all ethanol blend. Also have a gas generator on standby for power outages. It's sat for a good year or so with ethanol blend. And I honestly did not follow the instruction to add fuel stabilizer....
     
    #14 jzchen, Sep 19, 2021
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  15. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    Well then there is no coolant to deal with.

    How about an accumulation of "contamination" in the g a s tank ?

    There is a piece to this puzzle missing.
    The pieces we have don't fit together properly.

    Note: Something new has been added.......and I do NOT like it.
    Certain combinations of words in a post gets converted to a link to an ad on a completely different site.
    This kind of a situation can lead you to: Porn links, scam sites or virus downloads.
     
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  16. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Changes in temperature are what knocks the water out of the air. And that's going to happen whether there is ethanol in the fuel or not. If anything, the presence of ethanol is beneficial in this situation because it will help compensate for at least a little bit of the water taken in.

    That is why it is important to provide just enough tank ventilation to allow a gravity-feed system to operate- if you let more air in, it's bringing water and the next day/night combo will do the temperature work on it. If you can close or block that vent from shutdown to startup, you are keeping out the next batch of atmospheric water.

    Another trick is to completely fill the tank- if it's full of gas (with or without ethanol) then there is no air or water vapor.

    Once the water gets into the fuel, you have a few ways to get it out. You can separate it in a column like your water bottle in the photo- add a drain valve to the lowest point of the fuel system to make this quick and convenient. Turkey baster might work for a shallow tank.

    Or add ethanol, because it will allow the water to mix with the fuel and burn off. But there are limits to this- it only works with small amounts of water. You'd probably have to add a couple of bottles of drygas (ethanol) to clear out as much water as your photo showed.
     
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  17. privilege

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    correct, they're stored inside, usually around 70F. no, there is no gas smell in the garage.

    since this machine is 4t I normally just fill it up at the pump. the 2t machines get filled from (sealed) gas cans that sit in the weather. those cans balloon up and shrink down according to temperature. I haven't had an issue with their absorbtion of water.... but there are two factors that slips prevent that:
    they only hold pure gas (and premix oil)
    they are sealed
     
  18. privilege

    privilege Member

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    agreed. the contamination in the fuel tank is from an outside source... as I've flushed it with gasoline and blasted it out with compressed air. it's as cleaned as a container can be, without starting over with a fresh taboo removed from it's blow mold.

    I believe what you're seeing in the external links might be "AdSense" links. they're added by your browser/operating system. I'm running Mac os on a 'hackintosh' regular PC for a desktop operating system, and Android/iOS for mobile operating systems... so I'm not really concerned with viruses or nasty links. I'll just block them at my router or in the 'blocked sites' section and move on. honestly I haven't seen those in a few years, if you're having trouble with them, you may want to do some anti virus scanning checks.... I'm really not familiar with what is current for getting rid of bad stuff on Windows anymore, we changed over about 16 years ago and, well I'm just really bad put of date on that stuff.
     
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  19. privilege

    privilege Member

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    filling with pure gas would add 20 miles to the return trip, so I've avoided that. it's not a bad idea though, so it will be ready for the next run.... I guess keeping 5 gallons of pure gas in a sealed can for refilling after the fun is the best idea so far.

    I'm looking for causes for the contamination more than ways to clear it... clearing it is simple but time consuming and nasty. I'd much rather avoid buying and keeping up with extra bottles of "fixer"... and of course eliminate those sources of trash/waste also.
     
  20. jzchen

    jzchen Senior Member

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    Worthwhile, at least for me, to read this article. It definitely sounds like an external source is tainting your fuel. But maybe you can try once just to see, get the pure gas for one tank... View attachment 216652
     
    #20 jzchen, Sep 20, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
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