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Concerns raised over E10 ‘green’ petrol

A more eco friendly alternative petrol known as E10 is being introduced to the UK in 2013, but critics promoting rival fuels have raised concerns that it could do more harm than good.

E10 is petrol diluted with 10 per cent ethanol, a type of alcohol. The fuel is set to hit forecourts later this year as a result of Britain’s involvement in an EU directive that states fuel suppliers must dilute a proportion of all fuel sold with environmentally friendly substances such as ethanol. The idea is that E10 will reduce our dependence on petrol and lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but a study by think tank Chatham House has warned E10 is not without its issues.

It is widely accepted that E10 contains less heat energy than petrol, making it less efficient. It is claimed many cars will, as a result, experience reduced economy figures, meaning motorists will have to top up more often. Chatham House claims anyone using the fuel may have to pay an extra £80 a year to travel the same number of miles.

“The increased use of ethanol in petrol to meet EU sustainability targets is resulting in drivers paying extra at the pump,” Chatham House believes. The organisation, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a a non-profit, non-government outfit, however its report is funded by cooking oil refining company Olleco, which collects and refines waste cooking oil to be used as biodiesel – a rival fuel product.

Chatham House claims the added ethanol content is not suitable for all vehicles and in extreme cases it could actually cause damage to car and motorbike engines over a certain age. Estimates from the Department for Transport peg the number of vehicles that will be unable to use E10 without harm at 8.6 million.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Chatham House senior research fellow Rob Bailey said: “Based on case studies in other countries that have introduced E10, field trials and laboratory tests, the research found issues of material incompatibility, corrosion and drivability problems for vehicles of ten years or older.”

Britain has signed up to the EU’s Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation, which requires a minimum of five per cent of fuel supply to be renewable by 2013. 

A Government list of all the E10-compatible vehicles is expected to be released ahead of the fuel’s launch in the UK.

A per-litre cost figure is not yet available.

Source: Daily Mail 

Image: Flickr

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