Exploring the Alternative Biofuel Isobutanol

Last week, the National Marine Manufacturers Assn. (NMMA) kicked off a third summer season of alternative biofuel testing in an effort to further advance marine engine technology and find an alternative to fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol as a result of its damaging effects on marine engines. 

The tests are funded by the Department of Energy which released a 2011 report on engines using E15 revealing performance issues like stalling, corrosion leading to oil or fuel leaks, increased emissions and damaged valves, rubber fuel lines and gaskets. These results reinforced the recreational boating industry's concern that E15 is not a suitable fuel for boat engines.

 

The tests, in conjunction with the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and Evinrude, are part of ongoing research conducted by the recreational boating industry, to explore the alternative biofuel isobutanol in response to the U.S. introduction of gasoline containing fifteen percent ethanol, commonly referred to as E15. 

 

In 2011 and 2012, NMMA and its partners, conducted initial testing on isobutanol, revealing that it could be a promising alternative to E15. This year, the team is following up on preliminary laboratory investigations which indicated that a combination of three fuels, including eight percent isobutanol, five percent ethanol and gasoline, can achieve larger quantities of biofuel while inhibiting the negative effects of ethanol which include corrosion, low energy content and high Reid vapor pressure (RVP.) 

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