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Old 03-14-2012, 12:17 PM   #1
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Default Anybody actually using E85 as a performance fuel?

The guys from Injector Dynamics don't seem to care for E85:


http://www.injectordynamics.com/AlcoholArticle.html


Thoughts? The more I look into it, the more I think it's not worth the trouble.

Octane rating opinions vary wildly, from 94-96 based on the actual octane rating of ethanol to the accepted standard 105 octane rating. Plus some mysterious, hypothetical, more or less data non-existent mechanical octane from ethanol's low boiling point and relatively high specific heat.

Then there's fuel system corrosion (both chemical corrosion and wet corrosion due to the hygroscopic nature of alcohol) to deal with, there's the wide open definition of what exactly 'E85' really is, as described above, there's fuel system sludge horror stories, there's availability issues around here...

Then they put in a 110 pump about 3 miles from my shop.



And then, despite all that, there's Mellon Tuning in Nashville making 720awhp in his EVO shop car with pump fuel from the station at the entrance to his neighborhood... Since 2009.

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Last edited by vehicular; 03-14-2012 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:22 PM   #2
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You're joking right?
E85 is the most awesome thing since modern turbochargers.
I've used it on every single one of my projects since it became available.
If you follow a few very simple rules with e85 you will make gobs more power all while running even safer than on pump gas. win win. Non-Performance fuel? What is that? There's only one reason to run e85: performance. Anyone using it for fuel economy is retarded.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:25 PM   #3
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Explain.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:29 PM   #4
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Explain what?
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:41 PM   #5
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Expound on your statements. What rules do you think should be followed to ensure safety. Do you test every tank? Just some? Use a fuel composition sensor? Have you had any of the aforementioned E85 problems? Ever gotten a bad/ inconsistent/ sludgy fill up? Any back-to-back data/ dyno runs?

Obviously you think it's worth the trouble, but the only local E85 build I know of was a Whipple 2.3'd 04 Cobra, and he hated it so much he sold the car. It was a cruise missile on 4 wheels when it worked, but even with the tune completely hammered out it still got such terrible gas mileage that he had to put two 5 gallon gas cans full of fuel in the trunk to be able to drive the car any significant distance unless he wanted to drain the tank and swap to his gas tune.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:46 PM   #6
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Savington uses it, in what is considered a "racing" environment
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:49 PM   #7
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About eleventy billion people use it in a racing environment around the world by now.

I'm looking for people's opinions HERE who have used it.

Edit: and obviously data and quantifications of goodness.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:52 PM   #8
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Nope. Nobody at all.
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Old 03-14-2012, 01:04 PM   #9
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I know that on a turbo Subaru, e85 is about the most cost effective way to gain about 50whp and even more torque on a stock engine without compromising reliability(of the engine, trans is another story). The biggest issues seem to be cold starts and winter blends. For that reason, many use it as a summer-only fuel.

Anyway, I'm in for some Miata-specific info on e85 since my wrx is gone and e85 is easy to come by in my area. More specifically, does it corrode the fuel system and what kinds of gains can be expected on a modest setup. I don't drive the car during the winter so running into e70 isn't really a concern of mine.


edit: here's some existing info on the topic. https://www.miataturbo.net/engine-performance-56/e85-diary-55798/
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Old 03-14-2012, 01:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vehicular View Post
Expound on your statements. What rules do you think should be followed to ensure safety. Do you test every tank? Just some? Use a fuel composition sensor? Have you had any of the aforementioned E85 problems? Ever gotten a bad/ inconsistent/ sludgy fill up? Any back-to-back data/ dyno runs?

Obviously you think it's worth the trouble, but the only local E85 build I know of was a Whipple 2.3'd 04 Cobra, and he hated it so much he sold the car. It was a cruise missile on 4 wheels when it worked, but even with the tune completely hammered out it still got such terrible gas mileage that he had to put two 5 gallon gas cans full of fuel in the trunk to be able to drive the car any significant distance unless he wanted to drain the tank and swap to his gas tune.
Ok, I'll give you the ultry super duper ridiculously condensed version since a) I'm tired b) there's TONS of info out there regarding the benefits, how awesome it is, and just about every major forum I frequent has a 100+ page thread about e85, so this topic is anything but new. I just figured everyone already "got the memo", guess not.
1) stay conservative on the afr (despite being able to run 12.0-12.5 in boost, run high 11's in case you get an inferior batch of e85)
2) it likes boost more than it likes timing. don't get crazy with timing, instead run MOAR BOOST.
3) try to be consistent where you fill up, and know if they change the blend in your area for winter/summer.

There are other little rules, but that's the bulk of it.

Of course you could get a flex fuel sensor, or get a gauge, or get one of those little test tube thingies, or run a baller system like Pro-EFI which will compensate for the different octane rating, etc etc etc. Those are of course the more expensive, more pain in the butt, but more accurate methods.

I've experienced zero of the problems you speak of, and I've run e85 on countless evo's, subarus, a supra, and my previous miata.

Dyno runs: the power difference I've experienced on different cars is huge: 40-60hp on average, and depending on setup even more than that. I'll dig up some dyno plots if I have time when I get home.

Downsides?
Bad gas mileage (about 15-30% more consumption depending on tune)
Sometimes poor startup (only when its VERY cold outside)

That's about it iirc.

It really is awesome stuff if you don't feel like paying $8+ for race fuel yet want to make gobs more power. The wealth of info out there regarding e85 is staggerring (considering how relatively new it is to daily "pump" users like us), and I've yet to meet a reputable tuner who doesn't rave about it. Just read up on it.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:11 PM   #11
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You're right, there's an absolutely overwhelming amount of data and information out there, and I've read everything I can get my hands on about it, but it still seems like a purely anecdotal , and totally contradictory data set. You get contradicting numbers and experiences on every individual point. One guy gets fuel separation and injector pintle corrosion after a week of sitting, and one guy lets his car sit for the entire winter with a half full tank and fires the car up on the first try in the spring. One guy buys fuel at 20 different pumps all over town and has no consistency issues, where one guy gets his fuel at the same Shell or Chevron for 2 years and gets wildly varying test numbers and a half dozen tanks of sludge before giving up and going back to gasoline.

I was hoping to find a few examples like yours of having no issues, or having massive issues with data for either. The guy with the Cobra I mentioned responded to this thread on our local forum, and said that he would do it again on a pure toy car, even though his Cobra got under 10mpg mixed driving on E85, and never better than 13 all interstate, meaning a full day of cruising meant carrying extra fuel with you to get the car back to a station you can trust, as there are only 3 stations around here with E85. E85 scored him 100whp/100wtq, and would likely have gotten him more if he wasn't completely outside the efficiency range of his blower already.

But, a guy from Nashville posted images of the insides of his injectors 15 miles after a fill up at the same pump he's been using since 2009, when the car left him stranded with his FIC 2150s packed solid with black muck. Apparently the tank at the station was unusually low, and he got a tank full of the doodoo that had been floating on top of the fuel for who knows how long sine the tank was converted from gasoline to E85.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:25 PM   #12
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The grime/muck situation sounds to me like either the station is a POS and started serving e85 out of a pre-existing gasoline underground tank (a BIG no-no, everyone knows that). Or he may have had a really old gas tank in his car with tons of crap inside of it, all of which e85 basically freed up and it went into his fuel lines. This is why everyone says you gotta replace your fuel filter and/or sock after the 1st 100 or so miles on e85 in an older car. Both situations wouldn't really be an issue with the e85 itself, but people handling it inproperly.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:51 PM   #13
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This was trash in the tank of a station he had been getting fuel from for ages. The car had been converted for several thousand miles at the time.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:56 PM   #14
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Perhaps the stations fault then. Did he get e85 there for ages, or pump gas for ages?
I don't know a single person that's had that happen around here though.
I dunno
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Old 03-14-2012, 04:01 PM   #15
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I ran E85 in my daily-driven Talon for almost two years before selling it. Everyone I know with a DSM/Evo who wants to make the most power safely uses it. The quickest boosted cars here are almost all on E85.

The blend does change seasonally, but you can buy a graduated cylinder tester that will show you what the blend is. A local guy posted results on a board and showed that half the places around here change blends. I always bought from a place that stuck with E85 (sometimes as high as E90) and didn't have any issues with the tune.

I personally never had an issue with the infamous "goo", but plenty of my friends have. It's not that big a deal. If you have the ability to change fuel/timing maps just run a tank or two of pumpgas through the system (the goo is gasoline soluble) and it'll clear up. Or pull the injectors and clean them manually.

I ran factory fuel lines/rail/filter/etc, and a Walbro 255HP intank pump and never had any corrosion or leaks, or problems with the pump. Changing the filter after the first tank or two is pretty typical though as it does break loose a bunch of crap in the tank/lines.

I rarely had an issue with cold starting, never with hot starting. Only on the coldest mornings here (sub 25*) was it a real PITA. If it was below 45* there was a little extra cranking needed but nothing major. I never got stranded because of any fuel related issue.

I was able to get 5* more timing advance, a full point leaner (up to 11.8:1), and 8+ more psi out of that setup than on pump 91. It was night and day between the two. The only reason I'm not running it in the Miata is that I'm not trying to max out the turbo and pumpgas will get me everything I want.
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Old 03-14-2012, 04:42 PM   #16
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I've been using it since 06 in turbocharged applications. I don't use it 100% of the time. In fact, I only use it as 'race fuel'. In my street setup, I monitor the ethanol content and adjust accordingly with my maps.
On the race car, either I buy 'E99' or I get my chemistry lab out

I never leave it sitting in a tank and I treat it much like methanol. My fuel systems are upgraded for the use of ethanol. Lines, pump, rails, etc...since for my cars, most of those parts need changing anyway.

With the Miata I picked up, I'm not concerned with E85 use. I don't plan to build the engine (ironic for an engine builder) and understand the 1.6 likes to fold rods once over 250whp, which won't require e85.
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:17 PM   #17
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We run it in our cars, we know that water meth is more consistent. but E85 is convenient. The best thing to do is get it by the drum and then your ok. our E98 drum should be here soon.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:24 PM   #18
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How much does an E98 drum run these days? Did you buy it from a fuel manufacturer, or an industrial chemical house?
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:24 PM   #19
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Eh, I'm just the engine designer and data guy, not the bookkeeper

I can check.
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:39 AM   #20
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I converted in July of 2010.

-I found 30whp with no boost or timing changes (~300whp to [email protected]). All I did was add 30% to the fuel map and bump the base pressure from OEM (~43psi) to 70psi. The car made ~330whp on pull 1. I am running a Walbro 255HP pump and ID1000s. After getting the fuel dialed in, I added 2psi and 15whp to the total, and then small timing adjustments got me over the 350whp mark.

-On 100 octane, I would run ~14* at ~200kpa and 4000rpm with a ramp to ~20* at 7000rpm. On E85, I run ~18* through the torque peak at 220kpa, rising to ~19* at 7000rpm. I did a few pulls with more timing everywhere and saw a power loss and no detonation. For those of you keeping score, that's MBT at 17psig at all RPMs.

-I buy from the same fuel station in San Jose (corner of Commercial and Oakland Road near the 101/880 junction), I buy it 50+ gallons at a time, and I watch the color and consistency as it comes out of the nozzle into the drum. I store the stuff for months at a time in air-tight sealed metal containers that are specifically rated for methanol storage. The drums are stored indoors and elevated from concrete floors. I have never had issues with injectors sticking or any of the other maladies that are typically reported by idiots who do not take the proper precautions. E85 is highly hygoroscopic, so you have to be careful about where it's stored.

-I use -6AN stainless braided fuel lines with PTFE Teflon liners, an anodized aluminum FPR, ano'd AL/stainless steel fuel line fittings, and a stainless steel fuel rail under the hood. This is how you "should" run E85. The rear half of the system is all factory rubber and a Walbro 255HP, which is how you "shouldn't" run E85. I expected to be forced to change the fuel filter at some point like everyone said, but that hasn't even happened. I still expect to change the rear half of the system to PTFE Teflon at some point. I have heard anecdotal evidence of Walbros failing abruptly on E85, so I'll be swapping that for a DW300 at some point as well.

-At one point, I was given 40 gallons of Brazilian-sourced sugar-cane ethanol (E100). Don't even ask how, who, or where. I mixed it with 8 gallons of E10 CA91, giving me 40.8 gallons of ethanol and 7.2 gallons of gasoline for a 85/15 mixture. The car ran exactly the same as it had ever run on the pump E85 I've been purchasing from Chevron for years.

-It has saved me a ton of money. Even after adjusting for increased consumption, I pay ~$4.50/gal, vs. ~$6.20/gal for 100 octane, and that was if I brought all of my own race gas to the track for every event.

If you are going to whine about how you can't get it when you drive to your grandma's house and back, or how you don't want to deal with the other hassles of setting a car up to run properly on the stuff, then don't run it. For those of us with the patience and intelligence to take the proper precautions and deal with the inconveniences, there are massive, massive performance gains to be had.
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