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Do you want to know if Ethanol is good for your car? Ask a racer. Ron Kirtley of Idaho Heat, runs this 9 sec car on 100% ethanol




After-market Conversion Kits and conversions

After-market conversion kits, for converting standard engines to operate on E85, are generally not legal in U.S. states subject to emissions controls unless you get your converted vehicle independently EPA certified. This is despite the fact that the exhaust emissions from any such converted cars are improved by utilizing higher percentages of ethanol in the gasoline blend. Unfortunately, EPA certification costs in excess of $23,000 and you additionally have to prove that your vehicle will maintain low emissions for at least 50,000 miles after the conversion. Most individuals won't give up their vehicles for the requisite 50,000 mile test period. Likewise, conversion kit manufacturers don't certify their kits any longer due to these overly protective laws, which by law must be tested with every model vehicle for which they are to be sold. If done in the US the Fees have already been paid though the original certification. The EPA Federal Test Procedure costs $750.00, but you can request the reduced payment of down to 1% of the car's added retail value of the conversion. A minimum fee may apply if the value added is not very high.

Similarly, U.S. Federal law prohibits the manufacture of such conversion kits for sale in the U.S. unless they are EPA certified, by a ban that dates to when conversion kits for converting vehicles to use compressed natural gas was enacted to prevent the sale of such conversion kits due to concern about the safety of such conversion kits being released among the general public. This is despite the fact that such kits are nonetheless legal in all states, but CA, and most states even offer a tax break for converting your vehicle (See tax breaks.)

Still, there are several Brazilian after-market kits available legally in U.S. states not subject to emission controls that will nonetheless permit the conversion of 4, 6, or 8 cylinder engines to operate from fuels ranging from pure gasoline to a mix of gasoline and ethanol to pure ethanol, including E85. It operates by modifying the fuel-injection pulses sent to the fuel injectors.  This conversion kit modification serves to extend the control range over which the ECU can adjust the air-fuel ratio to achieve an oxygen sensor reading measured before the catalytic converter that falls within nominal stoichometric ideal combustion limits. The general belief is that this conversion kit operates in its 'A' mode simply through lengthening the individual pulse-widths of fuel-injection pulses, thereby increasing fuel flow per injection pulse by roughly 30%, whereas in 'G' mode, it acts simply as a straight pass through for fuel-injection pulses.

The primary method used to convert non-fuel-injected cars is two-fold. First, any non-compatible rubber parts and gaskets and terne gas tanks and terne fuel lines are replaced. Then, it remains necessary to increase the fuel rate of flow by roughly 25% - 30%. This can be accomplished in one of any of several different ways, depending on the specific details of the fueling system. In the early 80's auto makers were required to make vehicles ethanol compatible, so most newer vehicles will handle E85 with no problem. If a car is converted though, the ethanol will clean out the gunk left over from the gasoline and plug the fuel filter. Replace your fuel filter after about 600 miles!

For non-fuel-injected engines, this may be accomplished through increasing the diameter of the carburetor running jets to a size that is slightly larger in diameter. The theoretical change is not to increase the hole diameter by 25% to 30%, but rather to increase the area and hence the fuel flow rate by 25%-30%. Hence, the diameter of the jets must be increased by two times their original diameters, while keeping the general shapes at the opening of the jets as close to nearly the same as possible. (The idling jet must also be increased in diameter in addition to the running jet, primarily to accomplish successful starting in colder weather.) An excellent starting point, if one doesn't want to experiment with multiple test trials over the 25% to 30% range, is simply to increase the fuel flow by 27%, which just requires increasing the diameter of the jets by a factor of  times the original diameter.

For older vehicles, an even simpler non-conversion 'conversion' is possible once any non-compatible rubber gas hoses and cork gaskets and such are all replaced with ethanol-resistant materials. For older vehicles with a manual choke, it is possible simply to leave the choke slightly engaged even when the motor is warmed up, and the conversion is complete.

For converting later-model fuel-injected cars and trucks, fuel injection-pressure boosters can be installed, to increase fuel-injector fuel rate flow. It may be difficult to get your mixture right, plus there is a safety risk of more leaks in your fuel system.

Likewise, if you do choose this method, you may loose some of your compatibility with running on pure gasoline, from moving the air fuel mix farther from optimum for what is needed for running on pure gasoline.

The disadvantage of most of these 'conversions' is the non-reversibility of the conversion, without changing out or removing added parts, unlike the Brazilian after-market kit which is completely reversible.

If any of these conversion techniques are used, especially in older vehicles in which there may be rust or other residue present in the fuel tank, it may be necessary additionally to replace the fuel filter within 400 to 600 miles, as ethanol has a tendency to release any trapped rust or gasoline fuel gum or residue, which can cause the fuel filter to become blocked. Once replaced, life expectancy of the new fuel filter should be normal, barring an exceptionally dirty gas tank or fuel system.

Interestingly enough, running E85 in a vehicle can actually improve fuel efficiency if the fuel delivery system was especially gummed up. This improvement remains if the vehicle is returned to operation on gasoline only. 

One company has stepped up to the plate to do extended testing as requested by the EPA is FFI / ECO FLex Platinum.

Fuel Flex International, LLC in conjunction with our Exclusive partner in Germany ,Flex Energy, announce the first ever product to carry the prestigious CE and TUV approval. After 5 months of testing by Flex Energy, this project was completed in Germany and is valid for all of the EU.

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