Where does the name E85 come from?

E85 fuel is named after its percentage of ethanol content. Eighty five percent ethanol and fifteen percent unleaded fuel.


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Pros and cons at a glance

  • E85 fuel is typically 30 to 35 cents per litre cheaper to purchase than 98 PULP
  • E85 fuel consumption is typically 27% higher
  • On a turbocharged engine power level will increase after custom tuning by approximately 12 to 14 %
  • Exhaust gas temperatures decrease by approximately 200 degrees centigrade
  • Ethanol has a higher octane rating than PULP
  • Fuel lines and components in many cars are not E85 resistant

E85 fuel and Octane

Using ethanol blended fuel has many advantages. In Boosted engines such as the Ford XR6 Turbo and Supercharged Coyote V8, higher power and better throttle response can be obtained by custom ECU programming.  An added benefit is lower exhaust gas temperatures, which adds reliability.

Ethanol also has a higher octane rating than 98 PULP – usually at ~107 RON (Research Octane Number). Octane is the measure of a fuel’s ability to resist detonation. The higher the fuel’s octane number, the better the fuel and the more resistant it will be to detonation. This factor allows us to calibrate the engine management systems fuel, spark and boost tables to make the most out of the higher octane rating of ethanol fuel.

E85 fuel and Corrosion

In the past, ethanol has been blamed for being corrosive. However all types of petroleum products have corrosive properties and oil companies are required to add corrosion inhibitors not only to ethanol-blended fuels but also to other petroleum products. Corrosion inhibitors are additives that are used to inhibit or suppress the corrosive properties of fuel. In turn, this prevents the corrosion. Remembering that our Ford XR6 Turbo Falcons run plastic fuel tanks with ethanol resistant rubber fuel lines, so rusting of the fuel tank as well as the other components of the fuel system are not anywhere near the problem they are in early model vehicles. Many other vehicles do not have ethanol resistant fuel lines and components, this must be put into consideration before converting your car.

The potential for corrosion due to the use of ethanol blended fuels has been eradicated in Australia for some time as long as the blended is purchased from a reputable source. This is because the ethanol sold in Australia must – by law – contain a corrosion inhibitor additive to overcome previous issues of improper use of lower quality ethanol or at inappropriate blends without the corrosion inhibitor.

Ethanol does however clean your fuel system, so it is common that the factory fitted fuel filters need to be cleaned or replaced a number of times after the conversion to E85. Once this initial cleaning has occurred, filters only need to be replaced during normal service periods.

E85 fuel and Consumption

Ethanol contains around 30% less energy per litre than PULP, so to make the same power we need to add around 30% more fuel. Don’t confuse octane rating with energy per litre. Due to high volume of fuel required to make the same power number as PULP, fuel system components such as fuel pumps and injectors quite often need upgrading. Remembering that E85 fuel in most cases makes an extra 12 to 14 percent power increase thus further taxing the fuel systems flow rate. In rough terms you will require a system that has a capacity of 50% greater that when using 98 PULP.

In normal day to day driving our experience tells us that your fuel consumption will be around 27% higher, remembering E85 is substantially less expensive per litre, running cost will be approximately the same however your range per tank will be lower.

E85 Fuel Conversion

As explained above, in most cases your fuel system will need to be upgraded. This normally involves high flow fuel injectors along with an anti surge tank and hi rated fuel pump. Lastly the engine management system will need to be re-calibrated. Of course for Ford XR6 Turbo’s we use an SCT X4 Flash Programmer giving you the flexibility to revert back to a PULP based calibration when E85 fuel is not available. Other vehicles with an aftermarket engine management system (E.g. Apexi Power FC, Motec, Wolf, Haltech, Nistune etc) can also be re-tuned to accommodate the modifications required.

Contact us to talk to one of our trained technicians regarding you future upgrade plans, so that correct selection of fuel pump and injectors can be accommodated for. In average terms it will cost approximately $2000.00 on a Ford XR6 Turbo for the components plus tuning to run E85 Ethanol fuel.

Want more information, give us a call today!

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