E20 gasoline rolls out next month to lower pump prices

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that gasoline blends with 20% ethanol (E20) will roll out next month. This measure is done to mitigate the effects of high fuel prices by offering a cheaper alternative to the existing E10 (with 10% ethanol).

DOE says that the new E20 gasoline will be as much as PHP1.00 to PHP 1.50 cheaper per liter.

“For those of you who are using gasoline, you know we have a mandatory requirement of 10% blend of ethanol with gasoline. The new policy that we will be implementing [and] will be voluntary and raising it to 20% [ethanol],” Energy Secretary, Raphael Lotillia said during an earlier press briefing in Malacañang.

“This is primarily a price mitigation measure because ethanol, especially imported ethanol, is cheaper than the price of gasoline,” added Lotilla.

Effects of higher ethanol content on older motorcycles

Government rolls out gasoline with 20% ethanol starting December image

Ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol) is an organic compound that is mostly produced from sugar cane and is the same compound found in most alcoholic drinks and antiseptics.

Unfortunately, ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water vapor from the atmosphere. The higher the ethanol percentage in gasoline, the higher its ability to absorb water from the atmosphere, and we all know that water is bad for the engine not unless it is part of the cooling system.

When an ethanol-gasoline mixture sits stagnant in a gas tank for a long time, it can separate due to a process called phase separation. Phase separation, in short, happens when water finds its way into your gas tank and mixes with the ethanol. Ethanol will absorb and hold water until it reaches a saturation point, at which time the water and ethanol separate. This leaves a layer of alcohol and water at the bottom of your gas tank, which blocks the actual gasoline from entering the engine. Your engine won’t run without gasoline in this mixture.

Government rolls out gasoline with 20% ethanol starting December image

Many modern motorcycle models, especially those with electronic fuel injection (EFI) systems are already designed to run on blends that are 10% ethanol or higher. For owners of older models, especially those with carbureted fuel systems, filling up with E20 gasoline (or higher ethanol percentage) may not be good.

Additionally, since ethanol is no different from the common ethyl rubbing alcohol,  gasoline with 20% ethanol may be corrosive on some rubbers, plastics, and even some of the metals found within the fuel and combustion system of older motorcycle models. DOE says that they are already in discussion with motorcycle manufacturers so that they can publish some guidelines for motorcycle riders. If you ride an older motorcycle model, it is best to check the owner’s manual to see if its engine can run on fuels with higher ethanol levels.