Hyderabad: Got that WhatsApp message purportedly from petroleum companies asking motorists to exercise care so that water does not come in contact with petrol in their vehicles?
Well, it is not entirely a hoax message. Among the thousands of things that should be public knowledge but isn’t, is the fact that the petrol that we buy in petrol bunks has ethanol in it. The Government of India mandates this, and the fuel we buy is technically called E10, as it is 10% ethanol and 90% petrol.
This is good if done right as it can reduce carbon emissions and also costs slightly less than 100% petrol.
Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is a flammable liquid that is used as fuel among several other uses. Blending five per cent of ethanol with petrol was started five years ago and now, it has been increased to 10%, with efforts being made to increase it to E20 (20% ethanol) by 2030.
According to Rajiv Amaram, joint secretary, All India Petroleum Dealers Association, the issues mentioned in the message are true and they can be avoided with small precautions.
“E5 mixture was mandated a few years ago which later was changed to E10. It should be mentioned in petrol bunks, but the petrol companies don’t do this here. There’s a lot of awareness that needs to be brought in about this so the public can act accordingly. Ethanol is hydrophilic, as in it attracts water. So it absorbs moisture if there’s any in the fuel tanks and settles down in the bottom as it has a higher density than petrol. This can cause starting problems or other issues in the vehicle,” explains Rajiv.
At a petrol bunk, improperly blended fuel can cause the ethanol-water mixture to settle in the bottom. This can lead to people believing that petrol has been adulterated with water.
“We, dealers, wouldn’t want to ruin our reputation and would never adulterate the fuel. The E10 fuel, when not blended properly with a pressurised mixing system, also called doping, can cause the above problems,” points out Rajiv, adding that the public should ensure their petrol tanks are regularly cleaned and try to park their vehicle in a warm place at night and under the shade during the day.
“The air inside the fuel tank can condense in cold nights, and the resulting moisture is absorbed by the ethanol in the fuel. Whenever possible, park your vehicle where it is relatively warmer,” he explains, adding, “People usually don’t bother with regular servicing, but it should be done along with regular cleaning of the fuel tanks.”
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