Oil and Gas Journal: CRC Tests Reveal Valve Seat Damage in Some Vehicles from E15

May 21, 2012

Engine durability tests by the Coordinating Research Council, which studies the interaction of engines and petroleum products, found leaks from uneven valve seat wear and pittage in two of eight 2001-09 vehicle engines run for 500 hr on a 15% ethanol-85% gasoline fuel blend, the organization supported by the American Petroleum Institute and automobile manufacturers said.

“There are a minimum 5 million engines on the road today with characteristics similar to the ones that failed,” API Pres. Jack N. Gerard told reporters during a May 16 teleconference. “It’s not like we’re talking about prospective application. We’re applying this to the fleet that’s on the road today. We believe our estimate is conservative.”

The test results confirm that the US Environmental Protection Agency prematurely approved E15 for use in 2001 model year or newer cars and light trucks before CRC could complete its tests, added Michael J. Stanton, president of Global Automakers, and Mitch Bainwol, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Policy goals are being advanced by putting consumers at risk,” Bainwol suggested. “Now we have material evidence that validates our concern.”

Former CRC Chairman Mike Leister, who also participated in the teleconference, said that stakeholders concerned with potential impacts from mid-ethanol fuel blends discussed the initial design of CRC’s research with EPA and kept the federal environmental regulator updated as the studies progressed. “One of the problems with EPA rushing to a solution was that it knew our research wasn’t complete yet,” he said.

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