OPEI announces concerns with rush to E15 fuel

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute announced it has serious concerns with a premature rush to 15-percent ethanol (E15) or other mid-level fuel blends. The move to these fuel blends has yet to undergo a formal waiver process with the Environmental Protection Agency, and a recent Department of Energy report has been continually misinterpreted. OPEI is concerned that moving to E15 fuel will only hurt consumers at this time.

Kris Kiser, executive vice president at OPEI, said the organization supports efforts to move to these types of fuels; however, current machinery is not designed to run on higher levels of ethanol. Kiser said small-engine equipment in use today might experience performance irregularities and possible failure if used with E15 fuel.

“Current equipment is neither designed, built or warrantied for mid-level blends,” Kiser said.

Current machines are designed to run on E0 to E10 fuel in order to meet EPA emissions and evaporative requirements. Kiser cautioned that changing the fuel could change the emissions profile, making it non-compliant.

The DOE report that studied a small sample of legacy vehicles and non-road engines includes test results showing a rush to E15 fuel is not in the consumer’s best interest. It reported:

· Engine exhaust temperatures rose to an extent that may cause premature engine and equipment failure
· Safety hazards dramatically increased due to unintentional clutch engagement caused by high idle speeds
· Products were damaged to the point they could no longer operate
· Numerous adverse operational issues arose-such as erratic engine and equipment operation, stalling of engines and dramatic power reduction

Kiser said that with enough time, manufacturers will be able to build future products, capable of running on fuel higher than E10. For now, though, OPEI is asking the EPA and DOE to use the formal waver process to fully understand the effects of these fuels and communicate the information to the public.

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