Understanding Ethanol

In general Ethanol is mixed with gasoline at a rate of 10%, to help raise the octane level bringing it to 87 for regular, 89 for midgrade and 93 for high test. Ethanol bonds better with water than it does with gasoline so when water gets into your tank it breaks the gasoline/ethanol bond, creates a water/ethanol bond and settles to the bottom of your tank very slowly (a matter of a couple weeks). Obviously this lowers the octane level of your gasoline.

Breaking this water/ethanol bond and removing or restructuring the water molecules will cause the ethanol to recreate the weaker bond with the gasoline. However, the water molecules will not leave your tank, current products simply disburse the water throughout the tank so that it is the same weight as the fuel. This can prove to be potentially problematic if the water is not restructured properly.

This phase separation can begin due to as little as .5% water being introduced into your tank through condensation, deliveries or through open vents or damaged seals. When phase separation begins the gasoline will start to look opaque and is often described as looking like orange juice.

In smaller tanks such as boats or generator tanks under 150 gallons, at this point in time, we recommend pump off and removal of the fuel and starting with a fresh tank. We can pump off the water-ethanol mix that has already settled but we cannot guarantee that additional water and ethanol will not continue to separate.

In larger tanks, we can have large quantities of water and ethanol removed before we run our filtering process. Once we have cleaned the fuel it is important to understand that it will have lost some of it’s octane rating. The octane rating can be brought up by “splash blending” a higher octane fuel. Please check your local regulations to see if this is something you can do in your area.

We are currently exploring new products, which may help reduce phase separation and maybe actually reverse the process!