The Star Tron® Ethanol Story
The sale of ethanol blended fuel, commonly referred to as E-10 gas, is on the rise in the US as more states are mandating its use. Also promoting the growth of E-10 is the need to phase out the current additive MTBE which has been found to contaminate ground water supplies. E-10 gas has been in use for many years and, with smart fuel management, most
The first problems encountered with transitioning to E-10 is the loosening of sludge from the fuel tanks. Ethanol is a very effective solvent and it will attack varnish, gum, and resins - the sludge that can build up in fuel tanks. Once cleaned off the fuel tank walls this build-up leads to poor performance and frequently clogged fuel filters and injectors. The enzymes in Star Tron® will safely break down and disperse this sludge. After a filter change or two the fuel tanks will be clean and you can focus on the next, more serious, ethanol related issue.
In addition to a loss of power and economy, E-10 can cause other problems. Ethanol is hygroscopic, meaning that it will attract water from the air, which is absorbed into the gas. The water bonds to the ethanol, becoming heavier than gas and the mixture sinks, lowering the octane level and causing performance problems. This is Phase Separation. Cold temperatures will accelerate this separation. Ethanol is also a potent solvent that will loosen old gum and varnish deposits, which can darken the fuel and foul filters and fuel injectors with large particles. The mixture of ethanol, water and particles can form a gelatinous sludge layer on the tank bottom that can block filters and damage your engine. During operation, Star Tron’s® powerful enzymes allow water to be dispersed throughout the fuel as sub-micron sized droplets that are safely eliminated as the engine operates. They also slowly break down the sludge, cleaning out your fuel tank while restoring the fuel’s combustion characteristics to insure proper and safe engine operation.
In a boat, motorcycle, outdoor power equipment or other gas-powered equipment that is being used regularly, Star Tron® can help prevent phase separation that occurs from daily condensation. By neutralizing the electrical charges between water molecules in a process called de-ionization, Star Tron® prevents the water molecules from forming huge clusters large enough to form drops and settle, taking the ethanol with it to the bottom of the fuel tank. The octane rating and the combustion characteristics of the gas are protected, and the suspended water molecules are harmlessly eliminated along with the fuel. In order to understand this process, start by understanding that water does not exist in nature as its textbook single molecule, (H2O). Water consists of hundreds of water molecules bound together in huge “macroclusters” which are much larger than a fuel molecule. Star Tron®’s enzymes break the electric bonding that holds these macroclusters together, reducing the molecular size of the water cluster sufficiently to where microscopic amounts are suspended harmlessly in the gas.
A new breed of fuel additives has recently cropped up to capitalize on ethanol-blended fuel problems. These additives are known as emulsifiers. Ironically, some of them are made from ethanol or isopropyl alcohol or one of the many alcohol cousins. Some emulsifying products will use chemicals such as “ethanolamides” (or anolamides), which are basically just common detergents.
Alcohol has been used by boating consumers for years to “dry” out gas, but that was when gas was 100% gas. E-10 already has a huge amount of alcohol in it, and adding more can cause operational problems and increase the water problem. Adding additional alcohol can also violate the EPA regulations on limits of oxygenates (alcohol) allowed in the fuel, as well as the ASTM fuel specifications. The EPA sets those limits to prevent damage to the engine. Today, all engine manufacturers have certified their new engines to operate on a maximum of 10% ethanol. Any additive taking the fuel over 10% alcohol may void your warranty.
Before using a fuel additive, review the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by the manufacturer to determine if it contains any alcohols or other harmful water-bonding components. Adding more alcohol to E-10 fuel is not the solution and in fact can compound the problems as emulsifiers have a long history
of causing engine damage. These additives have the ability to absorb their own volume in water, thus allowing more macro water clusters to bond with the fuel. Several of these “new” additives have been demonstrated via a neat sideshow trick in which water is added to gas in a test tube. The two fluids separate, and by adding the emulsifier and violently shaking the test tube, the water appears to vanish, but in reality the water still exists. What emulsified water can do to an engine can be far worse than the original problem. Water, when sucked into an engine in volume, can shut it down. It must be cleaned, and the oil changed, but little else happens. Emulsified water/ethanol causes a more serious problem because instead of shutting down the engine, the mixture can be partially combusted, but not effectively, which can damage the engine. Therefore, a mixture of water and ethanol is worse than just water. When emulsified water runs through an engine over a period of time, it causes excessive abrasion and wear, corrosion, and the emulsifier alone causes excessive carbon deposits, leading to wear on rings, pistons, and valves.
Emulsified water in the fuel can have several negative effects. Water displaces gasoline, which lubricates the fuel pump. Water pits and corrodes the plated metal surfaces causing premature wear on the fuel pump. Water reacts with various components in the fuel and forms acids, which corrode the fuel injector tips as well. Water/gas emulsions were tested by the SAE with ethanol and were found to remove the plating from fuel pump internal moving surfaces. (SAE 2005-01-2196, Rovai, Tanaka, Sinatora)
This is just the effect the wetted fuel has. The real harm comes during combustion. The earliest reference to experiments with gasoline and water emulsifications (water chemically bonded to an oil is called an emulsification) we know of dates from 1913. Ever since then, products have been introduced that claim to eliminate water from fuel. Many attempt to do so by adding an emulsifying chemical to gasoline. General Motors conducted a significant amount of research on this issue in the 1970s, and additional attempts were conducted for several years after. Each time, the deleterious effects of water/gas emulsions greatly outweighed any benefits gained.
Water emulsions immediately increase the fuel’s viscosity. Even “microemulsions” that appear to be clear and stable as opposed to the milky look generally associated with oil/water emulsions, still thicken the fuel. Thickened fuel can destroy a fuel pump and fuel injectors. The ASTM specifications for fuel viscosity are very tight; thickening the fuel with water can take the fuel outside its specifications, which will void a warranty. How thick is thick? You can’t tell in the field by looking, unless the emulsification has turned to gel, which can happen if there is an overdose of the emulsifier. The average consumer cannot be expected to dose with an emulsifier for a water level he can’t assess and be certain his fuel is still within approved specifications.
Because the emulsified water lowers the flame temperature in the combustion chamber, the combustion efficiency is greatly reduced and the amount of unburned hydrocarbons soars. This forms carbon deposits in the engine, especially on the piston crowns and on the spark plugs. Further, in the General Motors tests, (SAE 760547, Water-Gasoline Fuels, Their Effect on Spark Ignition Engines Emissions and Performance, Peters and Stebar) the deposit buildup was so rapid that the engine had to be disassembled for cleaning approximately every 20 hours. Additionally, they found shiny black deposits linked to the emulsifier and noted that the spark plugs were coated black and appeared wet. Drivability plummeted as well, and fuel economy suffers in a direct ratio to how much water is in the fuel. All negative effects increased as the water level increased. Eventually, GM abandoned their efforts with water in gasoline, as have many others over the years. It was also noted in the GM study that they did not bother to investigate the lubricity issues or long-term engine durability because the performance characteristics were so bad.
Star Tron®’s various enzymes will actually de-emulsify water, which is the correct way to treat contaminated fuel. The advantage to removing water in microscopic amounts is that Star Tron®’s enzyme technology is totally harmless to an engine and does not change the ASTM specifications for fuel. Star Tron® will not remove water from a glass jar but it will remove the water layer in operational boats, cars, ATVs, motorcycles or outdoor power equipment. The real Star Tron® advantage goes beyond just how it eliminates water, or even how it cleans up sludge. Star Tron® is also a combustion catalyst that reduces emissions, including deadly carbon monoxide, while it increases power and fuel economy. Star Tron® removes combustion chamber carbon deposits, reducing an engine’s octane demand and eliminating engine knock, as well as cleaning the entire fuel system. Star Tron® breaks down and safely disperses gum, sludge and varnish, and it outperforms conventional chemical-based gas stabilizers because in addition to slowing the aging of fuel (gasoline and diesel fuel can be stabilized for up to two years), Star Tron® can also rejuvenate stale fuel, restoring it to serviceable condition. It can improve octane in old, sub-standard or non-spec gasoline. It does all this at the lowest cost-per-gallon-treated of any additive.