‘Prevent fuel reaching engine’: Drivers warned of E10 petrol changes

E10 biofuel: Department for Transport explains why it’s ‘better'

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E10 fuel will be introduced to forecourts in Northern Ireland from November 1, with it becoming the new standard of unleaded petrol. The “greener” fuel has already been available in England, Wales and Scotland for over a year, with the Government praising the biofuel as helping cut emissions.

It is blended with up to 10 percent renewable ethanol and could contribute to cutting transport CO2 emissions in the UK by potentially 750,000 tonnes a year.

The renewable materials include low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood, making it greener than existing petrol.

Around 95 percent of petrol cars will be compatible with the fuel, with the Government urging drivers to check their eligibility with its online compatibility tool.

A small number of older vehicles, including classic cars and some from the early 2000s, will continue to need E5.

The RAC warned that there could be as many as 600,000 vehicles on the roads that are not compatible with the fuel.

Despite the decarbonisation benefits, many drivers have previously voiced concerns about the efficiency of the petrol.

Dr Dan Clarke, Global Head of Science and Technology, SulNOx Group Plc, warned that motorists in Northern Ireland may notice a significant difference in the driving of the car.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, he added: “While petrol or diesel are very unlikely to freeze in the temperatures we typically experience in the UK, water condensation left in the empty fuel lines can easily freeze and prevent fuel from reaching your engine.

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“The introduction of E10 in the UK is likely to have more of an impact on motorists than it has had in other countries which generally have a warmer climate.

“Preventing this separate watery alcohol phase from forming is the key to removing the problems associated with E10.”

When E10 was originally unveiled by the Government in 2021, it was estimated that the new petrol can “marginally impact fuel economy”.

The Department of Transport said it would generally be around one percent, although it said it would be “almost unnoticeable” to most drivers when making everyday journeys.

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Ben Richardson, CEO of SulNOx Group Plc, commented on the impact E10 may have on vehicles in the colder months.

He said: “Although the rollout of E10 is a step forward towards decarbonisation, the issues with the alcohol combining with water is effectively like producing vodka in the fuel tank.”

As a general rule, drivers of cars registered prior to 2002 are advised not to use E10 in their vehicle, as problems have been reported. 

E10 has been the benchmark for new vehicles for more than a decade, as all new cars sold since 2011 in the UK must be E10 compatible.

If the “greener” petrol is used in an incompatible car, it will still run, but the RAC warns that seals, plastics and metals may be damaged over longer periods.

This is because of the bioethanol’s corrosive properties as it absorbs water from the atmosphere.

This leads to condensation in fuel tanks if the car remains unused for long periods of time.

Simon Williams, RAC’s fuel spokesperson, urged classic car owners to be particularly careful with the new fuel.

He warned not accidentally fill up with E10 and then leave it sat in the tank for long periods.

This could lead to expensive damaged seals, plastics and metals.

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