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Friends of the Earth: The Upside

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When I was speaking to Marcie Keever at Friends of the Earth for this podcast last week, she laughed when I informed her that many in the aviation community view FOE as a bunch of tree-hugging, environmental whackos. "I've been called a lot worse," she said, and I wouldn't argue the point. Groups like FOE, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others take a beating for what are often viewed as radical stands on public policy.

Whether they deserve it or not is a debate for another time and place, but FOE has placed itself in the fray with aviation interests because of its petition to the EPA asking for a finding of endangerment on the use of tetraethyl lead as an octane enhancer in avgas. Technically, they're approaching it not from the TEL input side, but from the emissions standards side, but the effect is the same.

Right or wrong, Friends is viewed as the leading heavy in the industry's struggle to maintain a sustainable fuel supply. But the reality is that FOE's petition is only one prong of a two-pronged attack on lead, the other being the EPA's own emerging tighter standards on airborne lead emissions. These have nothing to do with the FOE petition which may or may not lead to a lawsuit for force EPA's hand. Although FOE can't say at this point if it will sue, my guess is that it will.

Is that a good thing? I have diverging views on this. Although I disagree with the contention that avgas is a significant environmental threat I am at the same time supportive of the work that groups like FOE do. Without activist groups like this, companies would still be dumping poisonous compounds into rivers, fouling the air with dangerous chemicals and burying who knows what to leach into and destroy ground water tables. For all the fear mongering it's subject too, EPA is in the end high atop of pyramid of foot-dragging, politically sensitive agencies.

As we reported, EPA's Glenn Passavant at AOPA Summit earlier this month so muddied the waters on the lead regulation issue that it has become all but impossible to form a rational opinion on this subject. Maybe they will. Maybe they won't. No one seems to have the first clue which way this is going to go, leaving owners and the developers of replacement fuels to twist in light and variable winds. For as confused at EPA appears to be about this, general aviation industry's response has been consistently pathetic. Twenty five years into the problem, we've collectively wrung our hands and achieved nothing.

It is not possible to find anything approaching clarity, but I give FOE credit for at least being an honest, forthright player in this drama, which is more than can be said of others. While FOE has a clear picture of the regulatory issues, it's less tuned in to some of the unleaded fuel research underway, such as the details of Swift's work, GAMI's research or the ultra low-lead initiative. Even if it were, I'm not sure that this would—or should—influence its stance on leaded fuel emissions.

Why? Because the more the various parties co-opt each other with deals and agreements, the longer the period of uncertainty over future fuels will go on and the worse it will be for owners trying to decide what they're going to do. Far better, I think, to reach a definitive finding, put the stake in TEL with a definite deadline or, alternately, decide that the juice isn't worth the squeezing and leave the stuff alone, allowing market forces to do their work. If the latter, lead emissions are a self-correcting problem, given the decline of avgas volume and the potential rise of heavy fuel engines.

Not that I am encouraged by this. In fact, the more I cover this issue and the more people I talk to about it, the more discouraged I become. The single best proposal out there is Lycoming's idea to decide on a new fuel within two years, then implement it in the market over the next 10 years. I'm just not seeing a lot of meaningful progress toward that goal. In that context, the benefit of FOE's petition and possible lawsuit is to force the issue one way or another and end this uncertainty. That's not a bad thing.

Comments (209)

With all the best intentions, I cannot view FOE as a group that has a balanced view of progress. Rather, they find a weak target to address, not necessarily a worthwhile one, show total disregard for any cost/benefit analysis and then abuse the general public's ignorance to leverage their point-of-view. You say without them "companies would still be dumping poisonous compounds into rivers", I say if they had been about any sooner we would all be stuck in the stone age. Are they willing to work towards a solution, or are they just interested in destroying GA ? Sure, GA is guilty in that it uses dinosour technology. It is guilty for not adopting mogas when it would suit the majority of engines (thereby loosing leverage when it came to ethanol blending, and ending up with no real alternative). GA is sandwiched between the powers of the industry (anti-innovation), politicians (anti-noise), the lobbies (anti-everything) and internal pressure to stick to a single fuel by the upper-end minority. AOPA can't take a tough stance for fear of loosing it's good ties with all of the above. GA should take a stance like ICAO, commit to something tangible but feasible, and us that to at the same time push thorugh sensible reform (FADEC, mogas sans ethanol, engine development, noise regulations) and quash irresponsible demands (FOE and the like). The lithmus test must be : could the FOE ever envisage condoning such a plan ?

Posted by: Peter De Ceulaer | November 28, 2010 4:30 AM    Report this comment

I don't understand why the lead in avgas "problem" isn't addressed in the same manner as lead in auto fuel. Starting in some model year, the manufacturers just stop producing engines that require leaded fuel. Distribute both leaded and unleaded fuel for a period of time until it no longer becomes profitable and the leaded fuel goes away. At engine replacement time, you get an engine that runs on UL because you can't get an engine that doesn't. It will take longer for the switch due to the fact that airplane engines last longer than ones in autos, but honestly, who misses leaded auto fuel today?

Posted by: Jerry Plante | November 28, 2010 8:50 AM    Report this comment

Paul, if avgas goes away so will my airplane and a bulk of my net worth. I like others am hanging on to aviation by a thread. You often become the voice of reason on issues, so it's difficult for me to understand why you would do anything more than constantly repeat the need for lead to stay around. Are you free for lunch sometime?

Posted by: Brad Vaught | November 28, 2010 12:42 PM    Report this comment

I read recently that ASTM has approved 94UL as an aviation fuel. This is 100LL without the Lead. I believe it is a better fuel for use in around 80 percent of general aviation spark ignition engines. Many of these engines were designed to operate on 80/87 fuel and the newer ones from Rotax and Jabiru were designed to operate on auto fuel.

I think airports should start supplying 94UL as soon as their budgets allow. They will still need 100LL for the larger engines in their communities, so an additional pump is needed. The 94UL will cost less than 100LL and work better in the smaller engines.

I don't understand why some of the major players in this game think it is important for the entire fleet to use just one type of fuel. This forces the smaller engines to use fuel that is more expensive and not needed so the larger engines still have a fuel supply. A second pump with unleaded aviation fuel would certainly get a lot of business and give the early adopters an edge over their competition for fuel sales.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | November 29, 2010 4:21 AM    Report this comment

Brad, it's not so much that I see the need for lead to remain in fuel as I don't accept--yet--that the data that it represents a real health risk is credible. I'm open minded on it. Regardless of my views, its days are numbered.

Replacing leaded avgas with a high-octane equivalent is no longer a technical problem. At this point, it is largely a lack of will and of bureaucratic inertia complicated by no market demand because the regulatory status is so muddied.

Lunch? You buyin'?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 29, 2010 5:01 AM    Report this comment

Talking of lawsuits, how long will it be before some mechanic gets a lawyer to argue that their health problems are due to the daily inhalation of lead dust from aircraft exhausts? And the thing is, they may be right.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | November 29, 2010 5:24 AM    Report this comment

My original hope was that an unleaded avgas would be significantly cheaper than 100LL due to such a fuel eliminating the need for separate transport because of lead content. If the fuel can be run through existing pipelines with other unleaded fuels then extra transport costs would be avoided. But now I see the economics of it, and the boutique nature of any avgas, be it 94, 96 or 100UL I doubt we'd ever see the price relief I assumed. When avgas represents one tenth of one percent of fuels used in the U.S. annually, that's not a whole lot of buying power. The environmental issue becomes secondary after the economics.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | November 29, 2010 8:29 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I commend you on your objective interview with Ms Keever. Still, I remain more than skeptical about FOE. I work in the energy industry and any move we make comes under protest from environmental groups. They do not protest the way we're doing things, they protest that we're doing things and I can only assume that they do not want us to clean up the way we do things as much as they want us to pack up and go away. No matter how much diligence we back up our work with to prove that we're being responsible, the howling protests and lawsuits have no end. Actually, howling is the wrong word. While public forums are packed with angry protesters, the official faces of the groups leading the charges are much like Ms Keever's. They are level-headed and seemingly objective and claim to desire to work with you to find a solution, but experience suggests behind this mask lies a goal to cease industrial progress. Pardon my cynicism, but I believe that Friends of the Earth would much rather see general aviation, one of the crowning achievements of an industrial and free society, disappear.

Despite my doomsday views, I'm glad to see this much attention given to the issue. As said above, we're hanging by a thread. We need to tread lightly and proceed with caution. Please carry on.

Posted by: Ryan Lunde | November 29, 2010 9:00 AM    Report this comment

I don't recall anyone calling FOE as a bunch of tree-hugging, environmental whackos. They are simply not operating from a rational and scientific approach. That is why the Aviation community dislikes what they are doing. Aviation is based on science and provable results, FOE is not.

I wish you'd started off as an Aviation person asking the obvious questions of toxicity, atmospheric concentrations, and measurable environmental impact. It would quickly become obvious if they were "whakos" or if they had done serious homework.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 29, 2010 9:30 AM    Report this comment

I have followed the FOE's efforts to end leaded Avgas, which is a part of their larger effort to eliminate lead emissions from a variety of sources. While it does indeed appear that their premise of any level of lead is too high has yet to be proven in the case of G.A., I would argue that public opinion on the subject is - sadly - beyond debate in 2010. To their credit however, the FOE did cite Mogas as a viable lead-free alternative to 100LL for a large portion of the piston-engine fleet, something we've yet to hear emphatically from our own aviation alphabet groups. Also to their credit, the FOE now campaigns against continued taxpayer support for the ethanol industry. Why wait though for these things to work themselves out? We have the production and infrastructure (sans low-cost tanks) for Mogas, a very affordable alternative to any boutique Avgas existing today or planned for the future. And we have an enormous body of people in other areas, who, like aviators, need an ethanol-free fuel. Who can argue that selling $3 Mogas to 80% of the piston-engine fleet (and 100% of all new LSAs) is a bad thing for the future of G.A. ?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 29, 2010 9:44 AM    Report this comment

"Who can argue that selling $3 Mogas to 80% of the piston-engine fleet (and 100% of all new LSAs) is a bad thing for the future of G.A. ?"

Answer: The 20% of the fleet that cannot operate on it. Even if 100LL remains an option for these operators, the price will necessarily rise steeply because of the reduced volume in sales and production. Many types of airplanes will become and commercial operators who use these types WILL go out of business. They're already operating on razor-thin margins. I fear any division of fuels is not a viable solution at the moment. Current volumes cannot allow for divisions in the marketplace. To be viable, a replacement fuel must be usable in EVERY type of airplane that uses 100LL.

Posted by: Ryan Lunde | November 29, 2010 9:59 AM    Report this comment

Ryan, but you argue that those moving to Mogas now only represent 20% of 100LL sales, surely not enough to cause the collapse of 100LL production, something that has been dropped by 7% per year for the past 8% despite essentially no Mogas at airports. Your argument has no basis and is illogical. What is fact however are (a) many FBOs sell 100LL as a service now anyway and don't make money on it anyway; (b) forcing the other 80% to buy a more expensive fuel than they need is killing off the lower end and is un-Democratic. Why should the vast majority of aircraft owners, the pleasure flyers who pay their own bills, be forced to subsidize the business users and deep-pocketed side of G.A.? If the low end of G.A. continues to shrink due to the high cost of flying, it will eventually destroy many airports and the high end. We can have Mogas on our airfields for little additional cost and it will strengthen the low end, the folks who will eventually need a high-performance airplane. A rising tide raises all ships. Right now we're all sinking and need to look for any opportunity to lower costs. Mogas is one of the few instances where this is possible.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 29, 2010 10:08 AM    Report this comment

be forced to subsidize the business users and deep-pocketed side of G.A.? <<

Might be a bit of a mischaracterization there, Kent. "Deep pockets" doesn't really apply to a flight school trying to train pilots in a portion of a fleet that can't burn anything less than 100-octane; deep pockets doesn't apply to a freight hauler or a charter operator flying a 340 or Navajo on a razor thin margin; it doesn't apply to the owner of a 30-old-old Mooney 201 that won't run on mogas and who is on the fence about keeping it anyway. It might not even apply to the buyer of a five-year-old Cessna 182. I keep getting letters from these guys, along with a few from mogas users.

If those guys go away, the mogas fleet won't keep many airports afloat, although it will keep some. I doubt if mine would be one of them. Lots of hangars already empty. The ramp is looking thinner than ever.

I think we have to have this us-versus-them discussion to reach some point of agreement. Until we do, the entire issue will just drift along representing little more than a Petri dish to grow the same circular arguments. Could be we have to decide that some airports will die, some will have both fuels and some will have one or the other.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 29, 2010 10:46 AM    Report this comment

I hope we are not confusing 94UL with 3$ MoGas. 94UL is avgas. I think it will not require an STC or any special approval from anybody to use in most light planes. It is exactly 100LL without the tetra ethyl lead.

I don't think 94UL will cost 3$ per gallon. It will be more like 4 or 4.50 in a market where 100LL costs 5$. It is still a boutique fuel. It just has a lower octane rating and doesn't raise objections from the tree huggers.

I operate a plane equipped with a Rotax 912-ULS engine. It would love 94UL. Using 100LL requires oil changes every 25 hours because of the lead contamination in the oil. Even if 94UL cost the same as 100LL it would still save me money.

I know some people think their engines that require 100 octane fuel will go thirsty and die if any other fuel is available. I just don't believe this. It is a nightmare that focuses on the worst possible situation rather than the reality that where there is a market there will be someone wanting to supply it.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | November 29, 2010 10:55 AM    Report this comment

Kent, There are lots of percentages that can be tossed about in this subject and I find them suspect at best. Frankly, I would be very surprised if it's only 20% of the fleet that requires lead. There are thousands of airplanes flying right now that cannot run on mogas, and as Paul said, many of them are on the brink, rather than awash in cash. If a company or individual finds it economical to operate a plane requiring lead, I think they should be able to. My plane is STC'd to operate on mogas and I use it when I can, but most planes are not and even a lot of people I know whose planes can burn mogas will not use it. While I like having it as an option, I do not see it as a solution because of how much of the fleet cannot burn it. Whether they have deep pockets or are on the edge of starvation, I do not wish to see operators of Twin Cessnas, Lancairs, Malibus, Beavers, or even B-29s left without an option and have to retire their airplanes. Ideally, we'd have 80 Octane, 100LL, mogas, and Jet-A widely available. The reality is that government regulations and market forces have dictated a more restricted offering. Still, most every airplane that has flown can be flown on the fuels available. I really want to keep it that way.

Posted by: Ryan Lunde | November 29, 2010 11:16 AM    Report this comment

Perhaps its time to revisit some so-called non-starters. It's 2010. Maybe it's time to revisit the notion that airplanes can't burn E10. The marine industry is doing it, with ethanol resistant hoses and seals. Phase separation is being dealt with by keeping the tanks topped.

Maybe the airport economy will support a two-fuel approach. Making one of them 94UL doesn't make much sense because it strands the high-performance crowd or forces them into expensive mods that may think the fleet to below critical mass.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 29, 2010 11:37 AM    Report this comment

"Maybe it's time to revisit the notion that airplanes can't burn E10"

Airplanes are not cars. Airplane fuel tanks are open to the atmosphere. It's not just the hoses that can't take Ethanol it's that Ethanol absorbs water.

Maybe the "notion" is that Ethanol tainted gasoline is a garbage fuel that has the disadvantage of both less energy and more expensive?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 29, 2010 12:06 PM    Report this comment

Paul -

What is wrong with airports having both 94UL and 100LL? That is the approach I would like to see implemented at many airports.

MoGas just isn't appropriate for use in most planes for the full range of operations those planes might have. Type certificated planes require an STC to use MoGas. I believe all such STCs require the fuel not contain any ethanol.

94UL is not MoGas. It is fully proper avgas with a lower octane rating than 100LL. You can think of it as the 80/87 most smaller aviation engines were designed to use but with a 94 octane rating.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | November 29, 2010 12:36 PM    Report this comment

All fuel tanks are open to the atmosphere, Mark. You're familiar with tank venting? Your car has that, too. So do boats. So do chainsaws.

Ditto boats, where the moisture issue is far more severe than for airplanes. The problem is not hygroscopy of itself, it is phase separation. But it takes a lot of entrained water to cause that.

The boat market is dealing with this and less than 5 percent of marinas sell E0. BoatUS tells me this number isn't going to go up. We should stop whining about how it can't be done and prove that it can't or it can.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 29, 2010 12:42 PM    Report this comment

I recall Hjelmco's 96UL sounding very promising for the vast majority of users, but I wouldn't give up on 100UL just yet.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | November 29, 2010 1:07 PM    Report this comment

"Maybe the airport economy will support a two-fuel approach."

Paul, maybe we need to consider the possibility that too many airports offer fuel services?

After all, if the economics of supporting fuel infrastructure at certain airports is questionable today (i.e inventory turns over slowly, fuel farm maintenance costs are subsidized by local taxpayers, margin insuffucent to cover overhead costs, etc.), will it only become worse when you have to add additional infrastructure for an additional fuel type?

Maybe if fuel was available at airports with adequate fuel usage and traffic, the economics become a bit more attractive to add that additonal infrastructure?

Posted by: DAVID COLEMAN | November 29, 2010 1:31 PM    Report this comment

John,

I agree with your idea. It is not necessary for every airport to offer every fuel option.

My home airport (1W1) offers 100LL and has an additional tank/pump on the budget for next year. It doesn't offer MoGas or Jet fuel. Many small airports in my area offer no fuel. Folks based at those airports tend to fly the few miles to one of the ones that has low priced fuel. Owners who feel a need to top up their tanks after each flight just need to be based at an airport with fuel pumps.

The decision to put in a second type of fuel is easy to make if the only cost is the price of the equipment. It is entirely different for a small airport to decide to put in jet fuel. That would attract large noisy aircraft (especially helicopters) that the neighbors find objectionable.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | November 29, 2010 1:39 PM    Report this comment

Questions: How many pilots aren't flying significantly fewer hours each year, if at all, right now due to fuel costs? And how many of them would increase those hours (or re-start) if $3 mogas were readily available at their airport?

If you think about costs in $/hour, if your plane burns 10gph, a $2/gal savings translates to $20/hr. I'd be willing to bet that such a savings would get a lot more people flying. Just in terms of the cost of getting a PPL that would save a typical student pilot $1000 off the price of admission.

If the typical pilot isn't flying as much (or giving up altogether), and fewer are starting to fly largely due to costs spiraling faster than collective incomes then if something isn't done to reverse that trend then aviation will die a long, painful death.

Overall I'd favor an all of the above approach. 100LL, Swift, GAMI, diesel, mogas, 94UL, etc. Toss it all out there, get the FAA and ASTM to either get out of the way, or seriously streamline their processes and let market forces to do the rest. Yes, some parts of GA will die in the process. But if the base of GA can expand in the process then eventually it will all work itself out to benefit of the overall community.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | November 29, 2010 1:50 PM    Report this comment

Three of the four AVGAS producers in Europe takes the lead to have unleaded AVGAS to reside together with production of leaded AVGAS. Why is this so difficult to handle in the US? For more pls read: http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?p=32096

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | November 29, 2010 2:45 PM    Report this comment

Some folks seem to construe proponents of Mogas as opponents to any other fuel; this is not the case at all. I personally need both a high octane and a lower octane fuel for the variety of aircraft I fly, and I want to see both 100LL and Mogas on as many airfield as it makes economic sense. Mogas will only survive if (a) reliable sources of ethanol-free premium are secured, (b) the economics are there. Two of the recent additions of Mogas are the Sebring (SEF) and Ft. Myers (FMY) airports, which most would consider leading G.A facilities in Florida. Both added it as a service to their growing LSA-based aircraft and LSA-based flight schools, the future of flight training in the U.S. Lower fuels costs have helped make the Sport Pilot license in an LSA aircraft 40% cheaper than a PPL in Part 23 aircraft; that's huge. If our attempts to get ethanol out of Premium and get low-cost tanks on airfields fail, so be it. But for Pete sakes, why would anyone object to airplane owners trying to lower the cost of aviation by tapping into the enormous infrastructure that already exists for gasoline, one that will never be achieved with any aviation fuel? How many empty hangars and shuttered maintenance shops will it take before we realize that G.A. needs to address everyone's needs, even the guy who flies an old C150 or Tri-Pacer 50 hours a year? This does not have to be an "either-or" solution.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 29, 2010 3:05 PM    Report this comment

What is wrong with airports having both 94UL and 100LL? That is the approach I would like to see implemented at many airports.<<

Hard to see the sense of this long term. Even short term. 94UL would be in the same general price range as 100LL for the U.S. price structure. (That's what I'm told by people in the U.S. business.)

So if the two fuels are nearly the same in price, where's the advantage other than Rotax engines not eating lead? Further, with 100LL endangered, would or could 94UL step up as the replacement? Possibly, but not likely.

Mogas and 100UL of some sort makes more sense. At least mogas provides a real cost incentive, while still providing fuel options for high-performance airplanes.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 29, 2010 3:36 PM    Report this comment

While it may be true that 20% of the GA FLEET cannot use 94UL, that 20% probably burns a lot more than 20% of the 100LL. It's commercial operators and the upper end of the airplane scale in costs. And remember the golden rule... Them what have the gold make the rules.

Also, the last time I checked, changing the hoses and seals in a boat didn't require and IA to sign it off...

Almost every airport I've visited that has fuel has 2 pumps. Most of the time, one sits idle. The infrastructure is there why not use it? Oh yeah, the golden rule.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | November 29, 2010 3:42 PM    Report this comment

Paul -- if you dive into how the EPA measures lead concentrations and the assumptions from these measurements you will see how a dual fuel situation, leaded and unleaded solves the air quality problems. Further with bad image comes increased costs. With a good image costs can decrease.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | November 29, 2010 4:36 PM    Report this comment

dual fuel situation, leaded and unleaded solves the air quality problems.<<

Maybe. But EPA hasn't provided enough detailed data to judge the methodology. If you have same, send a link. The lead emissions from GA are already in decline due to less fuel consumption.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 29, 2010 4:40 PM    Report this comment

Paul - I understand having both 94UL and 100LL at an airport doesn't make a lot of sense to you, but it does to me. The really important question is whether the operator of each airport finds it desirable or not.

It is not only Rotax engines that don't like lead. I've seen huge build-up of lead compounds in the cylinders of a C-152 that interfered with its ability to generate full power. The large lumps of white stuff had to be removed in chunks the size of marbles until the cylinders were empty again.

It would be nice to bury our heads in the sand and hope the day when 100LL goes away is the day the new truck shows up with Swift or Gami or some other high octane replacement. I don't think it will be that smooth.

I want to see my airport start selling 94UL now. Then when it is time to replace 100LL with a newer formula there will still be fuel available for most of the fleet while the painful change-over takes place on the 100 octane pump.

I know there are proponents of mogas in place of 94UL. I just don't think this is a good idea for most of us. While it certainly works for folks who never go above 3,000 feet and who fly their planes all the time, the better preservatives in avgas are still important for folks who leave their planes idle for months at a time.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | November 29, 2010 5:23 PM    Report this comment

Paul M. - Agreed, lead is a major problem in all low-compression engines, not just Rotaxes. Ask any mechanic about lead deposits in plugs, valve stems, stuck valves, etc. Swift - Am I the only person who is concerned about its higher weight at 7 pounds/gallon? That's a real show-stopper in my mind. Mogas - I am not aware of problems with Mogas at altitude, unless ethanol is present in it. Stability issues in Mogas are a thing of the past too. Most, if not all, problems related to Mogas stability today are caused by ethanol, not the gasoline itself. Filtering of Mogas is essentially the same as with Avgas today. Most problems attributed to Mogas are myths or have been resolved over its 25+ years of successful use as an FAA-approved aviation fuel.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 29, 2010 6:11 PM    Report this comment

When Eastern AL shut down I worked for a lawn service operation as a fleet mechanic with about 40 vehicles and a bunch of 4 cycle air cooled engines powering assorted smaller items. I took automotive electronics courses at the local community college and after 2 years took the ASE tests and got the 5 year Master Automotive Tech rating. They hired the lowest skill level people who could drive a light truck and burned the cheapest fuel available. Most of the older air cooled engines would not make much power when hot.

Pulling the cylinder head would show a light gray coating, almost a dust inside the cumbustion chamber and coating the valves. Removing this coating would improve the performance considerably.

I believe the coating comes from burning ethanol in the auto fuels making this a problem in addition to attracting water to the fuel and corrosion of fuel system parts.

If Exxon Mobil would be generous and contribute some savvy to this industry problem things could move faster. It seems that they buy up every new idea just to keep them on a shelf and not change any proceedures that they would not make them money. A congratulation to IBM who has guided the PC through it's growth with many good ideas.

My only suggestion is to make sure any new fuels are compatable with each other!!

Posted by: Arnold Allison | November 29, 2010 6:12 PM    Report this comment

Many of the previous comments are not based on facts and data. 1. 80 octane was eliminated primarily due to low sales volume. 2. 94UL is not 100LL without the lead, that would only be 91 octane. 94 UL is the best unleaded gasoline the refiners can make with current technology. 3. Aircraft which require 100 octane fuel consume upwards of 70% of all avgas used, so that portion of the piston engine fleet flies the most hours. Remove those airplanes, and the business infrastructure which supports all general aviation will likely dry up, to no one's advantage. We all need to support the continuing availability of 100 octane fuel. 4. It would be nice if decisions about the future of leaded 100 octane fuel were based on facts and science about any dangers (or not) the use of leaded fuel in general aviation airplanes poses to the environment. Such facts and data have not been determined.

Posted by: Stanley Stewart | November 29, 2010 6:33 PM    Report this comment

Stanley,

Even if your facts are correct, you are omitting one certainty - that there is only one refinery in the world that produces tetra ethyl lead. This whole discussion is not just about environmentalism. All it would take is one fire (or bomb) at the right place in the right refinery and 100LL will be forever gone.

I think we all agree we need 100 octane fuel to power general aviation. Nobody in this discussion wants to get rid of it. However, some of us would like to see an additional fuel that is more appropriate for the engines we actually fly behind.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | November 29, 2010 7:49 PM    Report this comment

Paul - the methodology to have an opinion of lead in air is to trap the lead which is at a certain location. If it is above specificed limits actions must be taken. This can be done for ex. for AVGAS by reducing the total volume consumed in a certain area (less activity), or/both reducing lead in the fuel (soon to come 100 very low lead 100 VLL) and introducing an unleaded fuel such as 91/96 UL or 94 unleaded. When the airquality is measured again the lead will be lower. At small airports with limited activities the airquality would from the beginning have small amounts of lead and there is no necessity for change from a one pump solution with 100 LL if the market does not request otherwise. In Jan 2010 we have had 30 years of uninterupted dual leaded and unleaded AVGAS in Sweden and it has worked fine. There is a positive image among the public that we have made our home-work. Just doing nothing would have been devastating. And with good image and good PR there are other benefits such as possible reductions in various fees, taxes etc. Don,t listen to big oil companies that promote just their idea about a single fuel. Perhaps AVGAS should be handled by smaller oil companies and the price at the pump would go down. This is the experience we have in Scandinavia.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | November 30, 2010 1:11 AM    Report this comment

I'm missing something. If we were to return to nonstarters, as Paul suggested, why have I not heard this possibility in the discussion:

Distribute one grade of avgas-spec unleaded fuel at 91-94 octane. For those aircraft that cannot use this as-is, blend lead with this product at the point of sale (probably with a dedicated pump set up to do this).

I can't envision a technical impediment to this, so why can't this work? (First guess: attorneys...)

Posted by: Steve Cornelius | November 30, 2010 7:06 AM    Report this comment

"All fuel tanks are open to the atmosphere...You're familiar with tank venting?"

No, modern cars operate positive pressure tanks. They basically "vent" excess pressure during operation and keep a slight pressure even when not in use. When/if air is needed, it's routed from the warm engine compartment through a canister(again to minimize moisture).

Airplane tanks are WIDE OPEN to the atmosphere. That's the reason (even with 100LL) you don't leave partial tanks in your plane for weeks at a time because of condensation. Now guess what happens with a fuel that has 10% Ethanol in it...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 30, 2010 7:07 AM    Report this comment

Paul said: "I think we all agree we need 100 octane fuel to power general aviation. Nobody in this discussion wants to get rid of it."

No, I and most GA aircraft owners, do not NEED 100 octane fuel. It's been forced upon GA for decades. 80/87 or 91/94 is PERFECTLY FINE for most GA piston planes and especially for the training fleet aircraft.

Personally I'm tired of being bullied into using 100LL by both the Government and by corporate aviation. And yes, after decades of being forced to buy it, I'm about ready to tell folks to get rid of the darn stuff completely.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 30, 2010 7:21 AM    Report this comment

Steve, your thoughts are correct - but blending with lead may not take place at airports -- but could take place at regional/local fuel terminals. The lead compound is surrounded by a lot of environmental and health regulations.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | November 30, 2010 7:24 AM    Report this comment

Don,t listen to big oil companies that promote just their idea about a single fuel. <<

I don't hear that from the oil companies, Lars. They are more or less silent on the issue. I do hear the single-fuel idea coming from the engine manufacturers and definitely from the alphabets. FBO are split; distributors will do what makes them money.

You keep comparing Sweden to the U.S. The two are not remotely the same in terms of aircraft population, size, usage and costs. I would like to compare the economies involved to see what we could learn, but you won't provide enough data for us to do that. My impression is that you are much more vertical than we are in the U.S. and that gives you significant advantages that are harder to achieve here.

As for the lead monitoring, I know about the point-source methodology. That much is simple. The other part of the methodology is the statistical validity of the first order health effects of these low lead concentrations. We asked EPA for their presentation data at AOPA, they declined to provide it.

That is why I am skeptical that lead represents the health and environmental hazards claimed. Given the low levels, it seems unlikely. I'm willing to be proven wrong.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 30, 2010 7:55 AM    Report this comment

The emerging National Ambient Air Quality Standards from EPA will require a 10-fold reduction in allowable lead emissions. States are required to meet these by 2017.

In the U.S., the accepted wisdom (if true) is that half of all airborne lead emissions come from leaded fuel used in airplanes. The enforcement effort will thus go to the individual states, risking a patchwork of regulations.

So let's say that a busy airport results in the local area not attaining the lead standards. What do they do? Stop selling leaded fuel? That won't work, because airplanes will fly in with leaded fuel bought elsewhere. What they may do is limit operations to meet the standard. That's a terrible solution, obviously. So you keep coming back to finding an unleaded replacement. These replacements exist. We are simply arguing regulatory and economic details.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 30, 2010 8:05 AM    Report this comment

Kent, with regard to weight, what you're overlooking is that Swift Fuel has higher energy content per mass unit--about 13 percent. So that means on a 10-gallon per hour engine, you'd flow only 9.2 GPH for equivalent power. (These from FAA Tech Center test.)

For equivalent weight, you suffer a little in lost range. For equivalent volume, you gain a little more range. The differences are great enough to require an updated performance table for Swift over 100LL, but it wouldn't be a show stopper for me, especially if it were the only choice. The effective weight difference is less.

Operationally in the real world and economics aside for this discussion, it seems workable to me, albeit not ideal.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 30, 2010 8:38 AM    Report this comment

Paul - in special cases yes certain airports could be "transit airports" where lead free fuel would not solve the problem - but my experience these airports are few. Most activities on airports are generated just by local based traffic. To continue argue that lead is not a problem -- or discuss statistical methods or other "technical" problems in the lead issue is a dead - end. The outcome will be the same as for those that argue that we don,t have a co2 problem or don,t have a green-house effect or won,t get climate changes. Those fighting such wars have already lost and such activities are frankly said waste resources. This is without saying what is correct or incorrect. You don,t hear very much officially from oil-companies -- but they work in the back-ground. Engine-producers -- well they could have opinions but they also speak to influent sources. Yes - the US is not Sweden -- but parts and large parts of the US are like Sweden and Canada. Florida is not Maine. The US is not uniform either, and Sweden is not Paris area or Frankfurt. I feel more and more that many people I talk to take the issue about lead in AVGAS as a human just getting to know he has a serious problem that should be solved. Going through such an experience takes a person through various phases where denial of the problem is one. First when it is accepted there is a problem -- first then can the individual start to do something and sometimes then there is nothing to do than accept the ourcome.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | November 30, 2010 8:46 AM    Report this comment

"risking a patchwork of regulations"

Paul, there already is a patchwork of regulations by States on Aircraft. Look at sales taxes, yearly use taxes, and landing fees. Busy airports and States will just have one more "fee" for airplanes using "their air".

Experience shows (as seen with tobacco and Alcohol) is that taxing is the preferred method. The Regulatory and Economic details for lead usage only need a dollar amount assessed to it...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 30, 2010 8:52 AM    Report this comment

I feel more and more that many people I talk to take the issue about lead in AVGAS as a human just getting to know he has a serious problem that should be solved.<<

I guess I agree with you, even if I am not convinced that the data shows that I should. It's more of a group think situation accepting a broad-based sentiment based on sort-of-convincing but not definitive science. That's another saying of saying that fighting it is futile. But by delaying a decision, we are, after a fashion, fighting it. Full circle, that's the upside of FOE's action.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 30, 2010 9:01 AM    Report this comment

Lars' mention of 100VLL just sounds like a non-starter to me. I doubt it'd be any cheaper than 100LL, and would be subject to the same higher transport and storage costs because of its lead content. Has any serious research gone into the feasibility of producing 100UL?

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | November 30, 2010 9:02 AM    Report this comment

Paul said: "that's the upside of FOE's action" In 2006, FOE petitioned to regulate GA lead emissions under the Clean Air Act. There is no "upside" to FOE torpedoing GA in using the EPA as a tool for their own political purposes.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 30, 2010 9:28 AM    Report this comment

Lars - having spent part of each year in Europe since 1979, I would agree that differences in GA between Europe and North America are much smaller than many here believe. In many ways flying is cheaper due to a multitude of flying clubs with their own airfields. Aviation is much different around the U.S., but the total number of airplanes and pilots is fairly comparable. In Sweden, Germany and Switzerland the number of GA pilots per capita and number of GA aircraft/pilot are comparable. I did an extensive study on the topic for the EAA earlier this year. G.A. is far from "dead" as some people in the U.S. believe.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 30, 2010 9:29 AM    Report this comment

Paul - I have yet to see conclusive dynamometer testing on the performance and consumption of Swift's fuel. Reports I have read have been anecdotal at best. Can you point me to lab test results under real conditions? Mogas too has 3%-5% more BTUs per gallon than 100LL, BTW. Swift fuel has been touted as a drop-in replacement for 100LL. Pilots will assume this means that filling tanks as with 100LL there will be no need to have a different weight and balance chart. Few pilots check this anyway when they top off - that's reality. 16% greater weight will push many aircraft past safe limits on high density altitude days. Swift does sound promising, but it is no drop-in replacement.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 30, 2010 9:32 AM    Report this comment

Will -- the cost for 100VLL will probably be somewhat higher because to make the detonation margins, you have to have better alkylate quality and NOT every current producer can make that. The 100VLL issue is just a way of delaying the inevitable - going away from lead. Some industry people think they can gain another 10 years along that route. On the other hand this might be a US solution but if US aircraft producers want to sell their products elsewhere they need products that can operate without lead. Cirrus has taken the lead with their SR22-T and 94UL aircraft. I applaud Teledyne/ Continental and Cirrus for their efforts. They show there is a life after 100 LL for high performance AVGAS aircraft.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | November 30, 2010 9:39 AM    Report this comment

Lars - What are the obstacles to developing a 100UL fuel? How close to the 100LL spec is your 91/96?

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | November 30, 2010 10:14 AM    Report this comment

Will -- for 100 UL the obstacles are pure political. In our formula of 100 UL from 2006 we use ETBE and the US industry seems not want to have ETBE in AVGAS in spite of some 400 pages of technical documentation produced by Cessna supporting this component. The Hjelmco unleaded AVGAS 91/96 100 % meets current US standard for AVGAS leaded grade 91/98 but is without lead and has no dyes. It is as such a drop in fuel and fully hydrocarbon. It recently got a blanket approval of our "FAA" the EASA if engine manufacturers have approved the fuel --which they have. This means in the EASA territory we don,t need to have the consent of the airframe builders and have the fuel listed in the POH which could be a long-time story if not in some cases impossible when producers no longer exist. And as our unleaded AVGAS has the approvals from Lycoming, TCM, Rotax, Kalisz (heavy radials)we are pretty well set for engines that are approved to operate on AVGAS 91/96 leaded.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | November 30, 2010 10:32 AM    Report this comment

Sure.

http://www.tc.faa.gov/its/worldpac/techrpt/ar1013.pdf

This is the full tech center report. There's an earlier one, too, which I'll try to find. I've seen GAMI's test cell results on Swift and spoken to TCM about theirs. Given its chemical composition, measured heat content and octane ratings--especially the rich rating--all of this stuff adds up. (That's not to say the economics do, but that's not the question.)

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 30, 2010 11:57 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Paul - but I read this report when it first came out. It deals only with wear, deposits, etc. and says nothing about fuel consumption, HP or torque. I was hoping for a dynamometer test report but am not aware that this exists yet.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 30, 2010 2:12 PM    Report this comment

I was hoping for a dynamometer test report but am not aware that this exists yet.<<

It does exist in the first report. I'll try to find it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 30, 2010 3:01 PM    Report this comment

Here's that other report. Initial FAA knock testing, with dyno, power and consumption data. GAMI found similar results:

http://www.swiftenterprises.com/Documents/Full-Scale%20Engine%20Detonation%20and%20Power%20Performance%20Evaluation%20of%20Swift%20Enterprises%20702%20Fuel.pdf

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 30, 2010 3:39 PM    Report this comment

Perfect Paul thanks. I could have probably found this myself, thanks for doing it for me. It looks quite detailed, what this engineer likes to see. Look forward to reading it. Kent

Posted by: Kent Misegades | November 30, 2010 4:06 PM    Report this comment

There is already an alternative to lead in fuel. Mogas is for many of us legal and practical. STCs experimental ac, and light sport all can use 91 octane mogas. But what we need is mogas available without ethanol which causes problems of phase separation and attacks some fiberglass fuel tanks. The powers to be completely ignore this group of aircraft. I can't buy mogas without ethanol anywhere near Austin, TX.

Posted by: Pete Christensen | December 1, 2010 8:47 AM    Report this comment

Small GA doesn't need a fuel that is just a little bit more expensive but a fuel that is cheaper than what we have now. I would gladly pay several thousand dollars to let my IO-520 run on MOGAS. A 30% reduction in fuel cost would result in a decent payback. Small GA is very sensitive to fuel costs.

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | December 1, 2010 10:07 AM    Report this comment

Authur, you got it. Just like Warbirds today don't use 130 octane gas, High compression engines CAN use lower octane fuels. Get low cost gas and just watch everyone gladly convert. If the new 100LL replacement "solution" is the same (or more expensive) than 100LL then once again delays the process for the ENTIRE GA fleet and keeps cost of all of Aviation higher than it needs to be. SwiftFuel and Diesels are a lose-lose for GA.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 1, 2010 10:45 AM    Report this comment

How is diesel a lose-lose? I get that not everyone will benefit from it, but given the higher effeciency of diesel cycle engines the cost of fuel would be quite close to mogas. Sure, converting an existing servicable Otto-cycle plane to diesel is never going to be cost effective, but if the engine is not rebuildable or you're looking at a new plane diesel can be a perfectly sensible option.

Furthermore, we're assuming that Swiftfuel will be more expensive. It may well be, but until it's even an option we won't know what economies of scale will do for its price. If it turns out to be $8/gal then I agree that it's a loser. But at $5.50/gal it would probably be acceptable to those that really need 100 octane, even if you personally don't.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 1, 2010 12:28 PM    Report this comment

Regarding ethanol and water, I agree with Mr. Bertorelli: Where's the data that supports the fuss? Once you get over being cheated twice - once as a taxpayer subsidizing an industry and again getting cheated at the pump with a less energetic fuel per pound, the data seems mighty thin. Note that at least Cessna allows the addition of 1% anhydrous isoprophyl alcohol as a treatment when water is found while sumping, so seals and hoses must be at least a little tolerant of the stuff.

One of the FAAs concerns is water, and a post here suggested condensation the main enemy. Years ago the Cardinal forum had a similar discussion and a member did the math. He concluded that condensation from diurnal expansion and contraction is minuscule even with worst-case assumptions such as an empty tank, 100% humidity, wide temp swings and months or years of such cycling, especially when compared to known water sources in Cessnas. Those include leaky Cessna 'killer' fuel caps and doors plus the water picked up between the refinery and the tank.

With regard to ethanol, the EAA summarizes their concerns here under 'known problems': http://www.eaa.org/autofuel/faqs/alcohol_testing.asp#TopOfPage

Posted by: Thomas Connor | December 1, 2010 12:42 PM    Report this comment

"Sure, converting an existing servicable Otto-cycle plane to diesel is never going to be cost effective, but if the engine is not rebuildable or you're looking at a new plane diesel can be a perfectly sensible option."

Except for the guy left standing there with a useless, engineless lawn decoration.

Posted by: Richard Montague | December 1, 2010 12:42 PM    Report this comment

However, I believe it was Mr. Bertorelli who pointed out in another publication that phase separation of ethanol/water occurs at about 10% total water saturation of a mogas/alcohol mix. That's 2.5 gallons of water in a 25 gallon tank (Ok, there is a temperature component to the assumption that I don't know). If you have that much water in a tank you have other problems.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | December 1, 2010 12:43 PM    Report this comment

"Except for the guy left standing there with a useless, engineless lawn decoration."

I'm not talking about forcing anyone to go diesel or nothing. That guy has a lawn decoration becuase he doensn't have the money to buy any engine, not becuase he's forced into an expensive new diesel. If an O-300 will work for his plane, there's always going to be a supply of them either new, used or rebuilt (and they can run mogas quite happilly).

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 1, 2010 12:59 PM    Report this comment

"How is diesel a lose-lose?"

Loose #1: The fuel is more expensive than gasoline. Loose #2: The existing fleet will need an STC to install brand new engines and props and fuel systems. It's a HUGE expense to do engine swaps on all GA airplanes and the reward will be more expensive fuel. It's a Lose-Lose when PRICE" is already driving people away from GA.

SwiftFuel is obviously more expensive than even 100LL to produce. Again, that is a terrible thing to do to GA when people can't even afford to burn enough AvGas to stay current.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 1, 2010 1:05 PM    Report this comment

"phase separation of ethanol/water occurs at about 10% total water saturation"

Put another way, you can have 2.5 gallons of water suspended in a 25 gallon tank that won't make it to the sump. The problem is that you won't even know you have a problem...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 1, 2010 1:12 PM    Report this comment

Actually, the phase separation occurs at a lower percentage. It's generally give as 5 percent on the total mixture, variable with temperature. In a 30-gallon tank, it would take about a pint of water to separate. I have pulled pints of water out of tanks, but not many. They just don't leak or condense that much, with good O-rings.

I have intentionally phase separated the mixture to test gadgets that measure fuel contamination. You'd have to be an idiot to miss it when sumping fuel. The heavy layer on the bottom doesn't look like water because it isn't. Smells different from the stuff on top, which turns cloudy and also smells different. You'd know it if you knew you had ethanol fuel.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 2:05 PM    Report this comment

Tom: "Regarding ethanol and water, I agree with Mr. Bertorelli: Where's the data that supports the fuss?" I suggest you read the hundreds of comments on the petition asking the EPA to ban ethanol in Premium. See the link at www.PURE-GAS.org. Ethanol is in our fuel as a results of the RFS standards in the EISA 2007 law. RFS aims to take the entire country to E85 fuel ASAP, that's 85% ethanol. 15% was just approved by the EPA and there is no engine or aircraft on the planet approved for it. See Ben Visser's comments on the topic in today's Pulse, http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?cat=60

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 1, 2010 2:08 PM    Report this comment

I have spent the last two days talking to FBOs, operators and suppliers about mogas. For what it's worth, most people familiar with it think that it's overblown as a risk for the operator, more a risk for retailer or jobber who can trash an entire truckload with a leaky cap or tank seal.

I spoke with a flightschool in California that's running an entire fleet of Tecnams on E10 because that's all they can get. Phil Lockwood, who runs a Rotax shop, says he thinks it's overstated too. Rotax engines are approved for E10.

On the marine side, BoatUS says that ethanol has become the great whipping boy for people with engine problems but the true incidence of it is pretty low. The larger issue is degradation of fiberglass tanks by ethanol, but that's on the wane and there aren't that many to begin with, says BoatUS. They estimate the total E0 market share at under 5 percent and not increasing.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 2:19 PM    Report this comment

As for the diesel market--really Jet-A for our purposes--the trend hasn't yet flipped in favor of heavy fuels but it will. Jet-A is a growth fuel, gasoline in general isn't and avgas is in relatively sharp decline. Moreover, Jet-A has somewhat promising bio potential in HRJs and gasoline has the crappy ethanol economy.

We did a detailed reported on a couple of SMA diesel projects which are clearly significantly more expensive to buy, but so much cheaper to operate because of .35 SFCs that their lifecycle costs are less than gasoline engines. People who fly them like them.

A couple of problems. They have no marketshare. The numbers are largely theoretical and need to proven over time. They haven't been. But they pencil out. Jet A has a strong future, avgas, not so much.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 2:28 PM    Report this comment

Having talked to the people supplying E0 to the aviation market, I can't tell if it has a future or it's just a hopeless piss upwind. I thought the marine market was strong, but they say no, it's mostly agricultural. One Florida supplier told me they would stay in the E0 market no matter what, unless Florida ends the exemptions for E0, which doesn't seem likely.

One midwest supplier told me he had 160 customers for E0, but the volume was tiny. I got crossways with another jobber who was surprised when I told him one of his customers was selling E0 for airplanes. He says every invoice he sends says "not for aviation use." I'm afraid to call him back...

At the top of the supply chain, the majors appear not to even want to talk about this. As for airports, some already have mogas, some are interested and some flat out aren't. They're barely holding on now and one said.."why the hell am I gonna buy tanks to sell 500 gallons of gas a month?"

I hope they can make it work. I am fundamentally opposed to ethanol on purely economic grounds. But the forces arrayed against it are enormous. I can be called a lot of things, but a pollyanna ain't one of them.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 2:41 PM    Report this comment

#1 - I'm NOT advocating, or even suggesting that diesel be forced on GA. What's so hard to understand about wanting it as an available alternative that can be freely chosen or rejected by individuals based on their needs/wants/opinions?

#2 - Yes, Jet-A is more expensive than mogas. #2-diesel is at premium mogas in price, and at least the Deltahawks are designed to run on either. Even if you have to run Jet-A, and figure $4.60/gal, if diesel saves 20-30% by volume in fuel burn that makes the break even mogas price $3.22-3.68. That's the same as for 91 octane mogas. If #2-diesel is an option then you are at price parity/gallon, plus the efficiency savings.

Converting a plane with a serviceable engine, as I noted earlier, is never cost effective. But if you're building an RV-7 there's little or no extra cost to go diesel vs. gas from the start. Remember that the $62k for a Deltahawk includes everything else needed to fly with the engine, not just the bare engine. By the time you put an IO-360 plus accessories in the same plane you'd have spent about as much. Some OEM's (at least in Europe) are also starting to sell planes with diesels.

Thielert engines are massively expensive and a bad idea (600 hour TBO on clutch/gear box, never mind the absurd price of the engine to start with) no matter your situation unless there’s no alternative. But there are other diesels out there, and as they mature the good ones will rise to the top and become apparent.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 1, 2010 2:46 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Paul, what FBO and airport operators have told you about Mogas is consistent with what I have heard, but I've found that most are also clueless on the general history of Mogas, and even ethanol for that matter. I do not expect any leadership from them and certainly not from existing aviation fuel suppliers. Great news though on the Tecnam flight school that still prefers Mogas over 100LL despite ethanol's presence, more evidence that the future of flight training will use LSA and Mogas as we've predicted. Some major Avgas/Jet-A suppliers have been known to threaten FBOs with contract termination should the airport add Mogas - how's that for a free market? Rotax 900 series are indeed approved for E10, but the manufacturer recommends against it, and 100LL for that matter. This is all a moot point though, as the EPA aims to approve ever-higher levels of ethanol as soon as it can due to the increasing mandates for ethanol production. It just approved E15 and people tell me the E20 and E30 are just around the corner, unless Congress backs off on the RFS mandates. It is hard to imagine anyone wanting to burn more than E10 as power and range loss starts to become an issue when using more than 10% ethanol in conventional engines. Mogas will reappear at airports as grassroots pilot groups make it happen, but only when an ethanol-free source of the fuel is secure. FBOs on public use airports do not by law enjoy a monopoly on fuel sales.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 1, 2010 2:52 PM    Report this comment

It just approved E15 and people tell me the E20 and E30 are just around the corner<<

God save us all. The acid test comes later this month to see if the Republicans have the guts to kill the blender credit, saving...$4.8B.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 2:58 PM    Report this comment

I looked at Ben Vissar's blog and need to defer to his expertise, but will also point out the leap of logic he makes by stating:

<

(People) drive their car or even build a kit plane and fly it on ethanol-containing fuel and then tell everyone that that proves that ethanol is safe for every airplane ever built.

If these people really wanted to help aviation, they would accept the fact that ethanol and aviation do not mix. >>

The last statement is an absolute that the previous statement dilutes. Paraphrasing: "It worked sometimes so it should be banned?"

I haven't seen that EAA or Peterson declared ethanol dangerous. What I have seen is a statement that their testing did not consider ethanol additives, hence they would have to retest to get it certified. Meanwhile, experimental aircraft are burning it and are not exactly falling out of the sky. Anecdotal, unscientific and personal, but it IS a data point.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | December 1, 2010 3:00 PM    Report this comment

Huh! My cut and paste was deleted. Here's another try: Peterson Aviation and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), who would benefit economically if ethanol mogas could safely be used in aircraft, have done their homework and have looked at the large amount of data available and have concluded that ethanol, when used in aircraft, represents a very real danger.

What amazes me is that people will read this and then hear of a report from an ethanol salesman that claims that ethanol fuel can be used in any spark ignition engine and believe it. Or they will drive their car or even build a kit plane and fly it on ethanol-containing fuel and then tell everyone that that proves that ethanol is safe for every airplane ever built.

If these people really wanted to help aviation, they would accept the fact that ethanol and aviation do not mix.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | December 1, 2010 3:02 PM    Report this comment

Marine - according to BoatUS, there are some 17 million owners of recreational boats in the U.S. 16 million of these tow the boat to the water and buy their fuel at the local gas station, not a marina. Larger boats have switched to diesels in recent years, so the problem of ethanol melting fuel tanks is not as common. But damage to smaller gasoline engines burning E10 from the local gas station remains a serious problem. ."why the hell am I gonna buy tanks to sell 500 gallons of gas a month?" Problem is, most FBOs think a new tank will cost $130,000 or more and they compare all fuel sales to Jet-A. A small, roadable fuel trailer might be more than adequate for Mogas. The strongest proponents of Mogas we've found are those who see it as a service and not a money maker. A quiet airport will spend millions on a parallel taxiway that is not really necessary and makes zero revenue, so a few thousand for a Mogas trailer or a small fuel station are peanuts by comparison. The payoff is lower costs and keeping the low end of G.A. alive, the hangars, maintenance shop, flight school and local EAA chapters all full. That Mogas tank is also a hedge against sudden supply problems with 100LL, which do occur even now. A rising tide raises all ships.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 1, 2010 3:03 PM    Report this comment

Meanwhile, experimental aircraft are burning it and are not exactly falling out of the sky. Anecdotal, unscientific and personal, but it IS a data point.<<

Know of any direct examples? I've heard the same, but haven't talked to anyone directly about it, except the Tecnam guys. We're all capable of perfect group think. Everyone believes a thing is true because everyone says it is. Then someone offers empirical evidence that...it isn't true for me.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 3:05 PM    Report this comment

A glimmer of hope - Paul, the WSJ just reported that the administration has finally accepted reality - cellulosic ethanol, made basically from agricultural trash as opposed to corn, is not coming along as had been expected. In fact, it is a huge belly flop. The government has modified its mandates for cellulosic ethanol downward from 250 million gallons in 2011 to only 6.6, woops. One can only hope that these folks reconsider the entire ethanol mandates and at the same time exclude premium for the millions who need it. I am in touch with leading members of the House GA Caucus and we hope to do something early next year about this.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 1, 2010 3:10 PM    Report this comment

Link to WSJ article on cellulosic ethanol mandate reductions: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704584804575645223546090894.html

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 1, 2010 3:11 PM    Report this comment

Kent, here's something else I was told, this from a flight school in New England operating LSAs on avgas. Private airport; no interest in mogas.

But, I pointed out, with a typical $1 Delta for mogas being cheaper, that's $5 an hour on the operating costs. Wouldn't that attract more customers? Make flying more affordable?

No, he says, it's the difference between $114 an hour and $119 an hour. Or $200 on the $5500 investment in an LSA rating. It's just not enough to nudge the equation in favor of the investment.

For some individual owners, they'd jump all over the $5 and for certified airplanes, it might be twice that. But only a portion will nibble and the portion is often not enough to accrete into what a local supplier would identify as a market.

There are degrees of cheap, I guess.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 3:18 PM    Report this comment

Ethanol (even in cars) is a bad idea as an additive. Lower MPG, higher fuel costs, higher overal environmental impact.

The logical, cheaper, available, and safer 100LL replacement for GA is obvious. Why any interest in a worse fuel (E10/15) or a more expensive alternatives(diesel, JetA, Swift, E10/15) is just beyond reason.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 1, 2010 3:22 PM    Report this comment

In Sweden Hjelmco Oil has installed small AVGAS fuel tanks size 800 gallons complete with all accessories at small airports for 30 years. The only requirement is a guaranteed turnover of 1600 gallons per 12 month. These tanks have been profitable during all these years -- I know because I was the one doing the job and the price per gallon has been less than 10 % higher than if the fuel was purchased at a major airport. At the end it is all cheaper than flying to the larger airport, paying landing fees and fly back. How could it be profitable --- it allows us to leave our fuel terminal with our trucks 100 % filled up. Efficient distribution and logistal knowledge makes the deal.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 1, 2010 3:25 PM    Report this comment

Paul, it is indeed a matter of economics. If Avgas is going for $4.00, once you add the surcharge for small deliver of Mogas the delta is not much, folks will use 100LL unless the lead deposits are a major issue. Sometimes state fuel taxes can make Mogas even cheaper, or more expensive than 100LL depending on how they are assessed. In NC we can get every cent of state fuel tax reimbursed when we buy the fuel at the local gas station. As a high fuel tax state, this can make quite a difference. If you keep a small plane at our local Class C KRDU, you're looking at $6.30+ 100LL from the nice folks at Landmark or TacAir. That's when Mogas at $3 sure looks nice. It's all a matter of economics, but at small airports, one needs to see the big picture. An FBO might lose a bit of money with Mogas sales, but it keeps its hangars, shop and SP/LSA flight school alive. BTW - Did Phil Lockwood tell you that he used to truck in all his own E0 Mogas before the FBO put in the pump? That's what the airport manager told me.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 1, 2010 3:39 PM    Report this comment

Phil didn't mention that. But he did say he uses both avgas and mogas in the Rotaxes and that they have figured out ways to minimize the maintenance costs related to 100LL. I get mixed reports on this.

Lars, what does an 800 gallon tank cost? Who pays for it? What does a U-fuel setup cost, minimum. The numbers I'm being given are $20 per gallon, all in, so 1000 gallon tank would cost $20,000. But most are looking at 5K tanks.

A lot of money for a marginal business. All of the FBOs I talked to make enough money on avgas to make it a revenue stream they can't abandon. Eighty cents times even 3000 gallons a month at least pays the rent.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 1, 2010 4:41 PM    Report this comment

Paul your number is about right for retail self-service systems. I have also heard $100k-$130k for a 10,000g system. Depends somewhat on local fire codes and other laws, for instance NY used to require all aviation fuel tanks be at least 10,000g in capacity. Many FBOs I know dream of selling 3,000g Avgas per month. I think FL GA is not typical in the US. Better weather, better economy, loads of flying retirees, flight schools, etc. Sweden may actually be similar to places in the US with similar weather conditions, which pretty much stop all sport aviation in the winter, unlike Florida.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 1, 2010 5:00 PM    Report this comment

Different airport operators have different ways of evaluating the cost of adding a new tank and pump. If the operator is a for-profit small business with limited capital then this may seem like a very risky move. On the other hand if the operator is a government entity with taxing authority then 20 or 30 thousand dollars takes a much smaller level of importance than satisfying the local taxpayers and airport tenants. Some airports really want to attract very light planes that would benefit most from lower octane fuel rather than attracting the larger and more noisy planes that demand 100 octane. Other airports that cater to the the twin engine commercial aviation market might think it is stupid to start supplying low octane fuel.

I think it is time for some airports to start pumping 94UL to help the small plane owners keep their maintenance costs down. It only takes a few airports going in this direction to establish the trend and market demand.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 1, 2010 6:15 PM    Report this comment

I think it is time for some airports to start pumping 94UL to help the small plane owners keep their maintenance costs down.<<

This is a perfect test marketing case. 94UL isn't available in sufficient volume in the U.S. to be competitive with 100LL. No one is making it. But Hjelmco's 91/96 is and is, if I am not mistaken, fully approved. Shipping from Europe is not a deal killer.

It would presumably cost in the range of 100LL. Someone would need to invest in such a test. Owners could then tell you if unleaded fuel would save them in maintenance dollars.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 4:38 AM    Report this comment

Paul,

A little patience is needed to allow 94UL to mature. I understand it was just approved by the ASTM, and the approval has not yet been published. I don't know how the FAA deals with this kind of issue, but I suspect some sort of ruling is needed there as well. If it can be used by type certificated planes without STC then I believe it would sell very well.

My point about maintenance costs was to make it clear that there are other issues here besides the cost per gallon. For any plane that burns upwards of 40 gallons per hour the price of a gallon of fuel is critical. For more common planes that burn less than 8 gallons per hour the fuel cost becomes subordinate to other fixed and hourly operating costs.

I think the timing that works for 94UL has the first pumps in service some time next year.

I wonder who would put in a new pump for fuel that must be ordered from Europe.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 2, 2010 5:06 AM    Report this comment

For any plane that burns upwards of 40 gallons per hour the price of a gallon of fuel is critical.<<

Let's examine that statement. What airplanes are we talking about? Certainly not singles. We are talking about twins. As a group, they are over overrepresented in fuel consumption. In other words, volume wise, they burn more than their lower horsepower brethren combined.

Some percentage of these twins--the ones that burn most of the gas that twins burn--are working airplanes like Piper Navajos, Senecas, Cessna 310s, 340s, 421s and so on. Also in the high-consumption group are Cessna 206s, 210s. Saratogas some 185s and so forth. Working airplanes.

Some of the low-compression turbo'd versions might get by on 94UL, but the high compression engines simply can't burn it. Against that backdrop, what is the rationale to market 94UL?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 6:22 AM    Report this comment

Who is planning to refine 94UL in sufficient volume to make it cost competitive with 100LL? Who is planning to capitalize the pumps to dispense it? It won't be the airports. Of the dozen I've talked to, zero are interested in a two-pump system. If this idea is underway at the refinery level, I haven't heard about it. Doesn't mean it's not happening.

To prove a 94UL test market case--and I'm not saying it can't be done, by the way--someone will have to agree to lose a bit of money for awhile. Making it in test volumes just isn't cost competitive with 100LL, so it would have be sold as a loss leader. If it's sold at the same prices as 100LL, the argument for an operator to buy it would be that it saves on maintenance costs (an elusive claim), proves a path to a future fuel (good) and saves the planet, also good.

Perhaps there is a lower-volume threshold for 94UL that could make it competitive. No one wants to talk numbers on this for the record. Hjelmco has dual fuel systems all over Europe and Lars asks why it won't work here.

It's a fair question. I am asking it. Another fair question: Why aren't operators asking for or demanding it? Which is the chicken, which the egg?

Hjelmco, by the way, ships its fuel all over the world in small lots. Why not a U.S. trial? Someone will have to step up and invest.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 6:24 AM    Report this comment

In Sweden you may put an AVGAS tank maximum size 800 US gallon without any permit or approval except from the landowner at an airfield. This tank size is also approved to use without any secondary protection such as extra container. Our smallest stations (yes they are complete stations) cost about 7500 USD each brand new. This cost includes 100 % epoxi coated linen inside, approved vacum-pressure valve, bottom water drainagepump, handpump (capacity 7 USG/minute), calibrated meter, API approved dual microfilter for both dirt and water separation, 60 feet of approved aviation fuel hose, approved aviation nozzle with nozzle-end meshfilter and an earthbonding wire of 60 feet. cont.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 8:06 AM    Report this comment

The tanks are provided free of charge by the supplying fuel company (Hjelmco Oil)if the user pays for own maintenance and buys minimum 1600 USG/12 months. These stations are written off by the owner with 5 % per year and interest is low today. Actually we see a real life time of 40 years plus in Sweden. Maintenance is minimal, hoses changed every 10 years, tank-cleaning every 4 th years, tank-inspectin every 12 th year. Filter cartridge changes every 2-3 years. On these stations things don,t break down except for the bonding wire -- but that is a piece of a cake costwise. Here a link to a picture of this small station. http://www.hjelmco.com/news.asp?r_id=22164

cont

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 8:07 AM    Report this comment

As can be seen, nozzle, microfilter, meter, pump and bonding wire are contained in the upper part (half-moon) door which is folded down when refuelling. As such all vital things are " back of a locked door". These stations are very profitable for us as an oil-company because it allows us to carry more fuel on our trucks when we deliver. The most expensive part of AVGAS handling is distribution -- and any gallon extra on the truck is free money if there is extra capacity. Our fuel trucks in Sweden are allowed to carry up to 14900 USG of AVGAS.

These station are very profitable for us as an oil-company because it allows us to carry more fuel on our trucks when we deliver. The most expensive part of AVGAS handling is distribution -- and any gallon extra on the truck is free money if there is extra capacity. Our fuel trucks in Sweden are allowed to carry up to 14900 USG of AVGAS.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 8:08 AM    Report this comment

Here the correct link that works. http://www.hjelmco.com/news.asp?r_id=22164

Sorry

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 8:10 AM    Report this comment

Paul -- you have a software problem. When I write a link your software automatically adds a following word to the link and then you cannot read it. So I put the link again here but without any additional text.

http://www.hjelmco.com/news.asp?r_id=22164

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 8:12 AM    Report this comment

If batteries improve only slowly and biodiesel is in fact cheaper and easier to make than bio-gasoline, diesel seems to me to be the long term future for GA. If there is going to be a second pump I reckon that's what it should dispense. In the meantime, the expedited decision on one fuel to see out the whole spark-ignition fleet seems like a no brainer. Where is the statesman or head kicker to get this done?

Posted by: John Hogan | December 2, 2010 8:22 AM    Report this comment

"No one wants to talk numbers on this for the record."

Call up FletchAir and I'm sure they can let you know how they ran a large successful FBO/school for years with MoGas and 100LL and JetA all somehow available over at Houston Hobby.

You're still asking the WRONG PEOPLE. Most pilots in GA and most private owners and most Flight schools don't need 100 octane and we darn sure don't want to be bullied into even higher priced SwiftFuel.

Want to attract more people in GA and keep them? Push for less expensive 91/93 MoGas.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 2, 2010 8:42 AM    Report this comment

John - what to do with the 150000 or so aircraft that already have a gasoline engine and where a replacement to a diesel engine will cost a fortune? If you want to have diesel aircraft or engines installed -- before you reach any substantial volume we would have written off new 800 gallons tanks if we installed them today. As there are another 20 years of lifetime of the tanks -- yes then we could put diesel in them because with the 100 % expoxi linen you may also store diesel, jet or any other approved fuel in them.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 8:42 AM    Report this comment

John,

I agree with you on the future technology issue. I think electric power will be the big winner at some point - especially for small training and recreational flying craft. I personally don't think diesel will do well, but that is because I believe electric power will thrive. If electric fails for some unforeseen reason then diesel will indeed look good.

The practical issue for the USA is the existing fleet of gasoline burning engines. They make up the vast majority of the fleet today and I don't think anybody wants to seem them scrapped. Even if all new planes were made with electric or diesel power plants the majority of the fleet would run on gasoline for many decades. The big picture must include supplying necessary fuel for both existing and new aircraft.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 2, 2010 8:45 AM    Report this comment

There is group of people who think there must be only one version of avgas. The big plane operators in this group are deathly afraid of the low octane fuel preferable to the huge majority of aircraft. They think if those users are satisfied then 100 octane fuel will no longer be supplied. The smaller plane operators are sick and tired of being forced to use fuel that is not ideal for their engines. They have been using it for some 20 years now and don't really want to continue. They fear development of replacement 100 octane fuel will mean they never get to fly with the fuel they really want.

I think there is plenty of demand for both fuel types. This may not be the case for every airport, but that is OK. I don't think all airports are alike in their demands or goals. Some will stick with a single fuel and others will go back to two aviation fuels - just like it was for many years before emergence of 100LL.

From the oil company point of view, avgas just isn't a financially important part of the mix. They supply it because the market wants it rather than because it makes their bottom line work. The oil companies are under constant political pressure - particularly from the environmentalists. I predict they will be happy to supply two versions of avgas under the same logic they use to supply one type.

The market will work out these issues in a way that seems best for each participant. I am confident that everyone will be reasonably happy with the results.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 2, 2010 9:06 AM    Report this comment

"Know of any direct examples? I've heard the same, but haven't talked to anyone directly about it, except the Tecnam guys. "

Yes, Myself when helpful friends refuel my O-360 powered Cessna with autogas that later tests positive for ethanol. Rather than dump it I burn it with no notable problems. Discussing it with locaL EAA guys running O-320 and -360 engines in RVs they say they have never owned an alcohol test kit and run mogas exclusively, so they take it as it comes. We all haul fuel to the airport and use criteria such as an honest gallon, separate hoses for each grade and look for unadulterated gas, but don't fret over it. A farmer friend in MI had a jobber deliver 500 gallons of what was supposed to be alcohol free fuel to his farm so he could burn it in his O-300 powered Cessna. A month later he got the bill and found they had added alcohol. He's still burning it and reports no ill effects, but burns an occasional load of 100LL for reasons I don't understand.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | December 2, 2010 9:11 AM    Report this comment

Lars, what you are describing is a classic vertical structure. If you--or any other business--approached FBOs in the U.S, with such a deal, I am sure you would find takers. Several operators have told me they would put in mogas if they didn't have to fund the tanks. (In Europe, there is some club funding of fueling facilities, I am told.)

So then the problem becomes supplying fuel at competitive cost and finding a business willing to fund enough of those vertical facilities to make a go of it. Although it's an unknown model for the U.S., it passes the smell test.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 9:12 AM    Report this comment

Tom, any worries about or evidence of phase separation? Any seal, hose or O-ring issues? Carb float issues?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 9:45 AM    Report this comment

"evidence of phase separation? Any seal, hose or O-ring issues? Carb float issues?"

Corrosion takes time. Effects depend on initial condition of the parts. Just because it worked once is truly meaningless.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 2, 2010 10:02 AM    Report this comment

When Petersen Aviation began testing mogas in the 1980's we approached the FAA in regard to testing for E10 at the same time. They were agreeable to doing so. However once we looked into it, it quickly became apparent that the added testing was going to at least quadruple the cost and time required to obtain the STC's because there was so much more to test for. A great deal of time and expense would be involved with trying to change seals, gaskets, hoses and o-rings in any significant portion of a 40 year old fleet of airplanes with dozens of different fuel system configurations. That however was only the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:14 AM    Report this comment

The increased probability of vapor lock would have surely required mods to many more of these airplanes in terms of adding fuel pumps or other means of facilitating passing the hot fuel flight tests. Hence the mods would be expensive not just to develop but to purchase and install. It'd be a far cry from a price based on horsepower.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:14 AM    Report this comment

Then you have the problem of water which no one knows how to deal with properly. A good example is a report we received a couple of years ago from a fish spotter on the East Coast. He'd been flying a Cessna for several hours and when it came time to head for home, when he put the power to it the thing didn't want to run. He limped 200 miles back to the coast and when he got there he found the airplane was full of water. He swore up and down that it was bone dry when he left. He had unknowingly filled up with 10% ethanol.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:15 AM    Report this comment

Granted, he was flying in a humid environment and had long range tanks, but it's an example of what can happen and what the hurdles would be if one were to try to obtain E10 STC's. With ever higher percentages of ethanol the problem becomes more acute. The point though, is that somehow one would have to come up with a mod to deal with this sort of thing if you expected to develop an STC for any amount of ethanol. I suspect the FAA would take a dim view of GA pilots having the ability to drain sumps in flight but I don't know how else to eliminate the problem. And even if you do, the octane rating of what's left in the tanks is about two points less than it should be. The FAA could never be expected to approve something like that.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:15 AM    Report this comment

I'll give three more examples of reports I've received. Two were Cessna's in California unbeknownst to each other but with the same scenario. They unwittingly filled up with E10, flew, parked the airplane and didn't come back for a month. When they finally got the engines to start they wouldn't turn up past 1300. They were both installing new carburetors.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:16 AM    Report this comment

Then there's the farmer from Iowa who flies a C-182. He swears he flies 45 minutes every day. He never ever misses a single day and he's been burning E10 for five years with no ill effects.

It is my understanding that when E10 is allowed to age, perhaps for as little as a week depending on the OAT, that the oxygen molecule falls off the chain and peroxides are formed. It's the peroxides that cause the damage to seals and gaskets etc. That then would tend to explain the differing experiences of those three pilots.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:16 AM    Report this comment

A study was recently released by EASA which shows even more problems with ethanol than previously thought. Vapor lock for one is much more likely, and then corrosion. Depending on the alloys used in the engine, this study indicates that just one fillup with E10 can start corrosion that doesn't stop when you switch back to 100LL. Just one fillup. Ethanol is a lousy actor, and that's all there is to it.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:16 AM    Report this comment

In an earlier post, someone stated that Petersen Aviation had never declared E10 dangerous for use in aircraft. I think we've been pretty straightforward on that in the past. Our placards have prohibited ethanol since their inception. Just to make it clear however, Petersen Aviation is of the opinion that ethanol in any amount above the 1.75% that Cessna originally endorsed for dealing with water, is indeed dangerous without significant modifications. Modifications which have yet to be developed.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:17 AM    Report this comment

One other thing needs mentioning - throughout this discussion, no one is talking about valve seat recession. If we end up with nothing but unleaded fuels older designs will suffer. Radials, Franklins, and small Continentals need lead at least when the engine is broken in. Lead may have been added originally only to increase octane, but protection against valve seat recession is indeed a side benefit and I've not heard of any proposals to deal with this problem in the ongoing discussions. TBO's went up when leaded fuel first appeared. We can expect it to go back down in those same engines when lead is eliminated. Some engines may prove useless if lead is not available at least for break in following each overhaul.

Todd L. Petersen Petersen Aviation, Inc. 984 K Road Minden, Nebraska 68959 USA 308-832-2200 todd@gtmc.net autofuelstc.com

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:17 AM    Report this comment

Thank you, Tom!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 2, 2010 10:25 AM    Report this comment

Regarding 94UL. It is not accurate to state that only low compression engines could use it. The Baron, C-210 and C-188 were approved for 91 octane autofuel in the 1980's. These models required the installation of an ADI system in order to do so, but they are approved for 91 octane mogas right now so of course the same system could be used to allow the use of 94UL Avgas. More testing is needed to obtain STC's on additional engines and airframes but it's been proven to allow the use of lower octane fuel in 100 octane and 100/130 octane engines. SE2197CE & SE2450CE.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 10:27 AM    Report this comment

Valve seat recession is really not a problem for Lycoming and TCM engines who were not overhauled before 1978-1980. We introduced unleaded AVGAS in Sweden 1981 and we had to follow the advise Todd gives -- but now-a-days practically all engines are younger than 1978-1980 model and contain valve seats and valves with Rockwell hardness quality to operate on unleaded AVGAS. Actually low compression engines do better with unleaded AVGAS than with 100 LL because of the problems lead cause to the valve system. The almost 30 years of unleaded AVGAS use in Sweden show that most low compression engines makes 3000 hours before major overhaul (3000 hours are max allowed in Sweden) while when flying on 100 LL major overhaul was usually necessary around 2000 hours. The problems we have now is that people are flying so little so we instead get corrosion in the engines........... but for those that fly a lot 50 % more of operating time on the engine is really a lot of money ..........

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 11:09 AM    Report this comment

I've not heard of any proposals to deal with this problem in the ongoing discussions. <<

Continental has and is doing significant research in this area. For recently built and/or overhauled engines with improved valve guides and seats, testing on unleaded fuels reveals no signs of significant recession. See the FAA's Swift fuel tests. Link above.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 11:14 AM    Report this comment

Again, the engines we need to be concerned about are radials, Franklins, and older small Continentals. All of which are prior to 1978. It is my understanding that Continental and Lycoming began using hardened parts around 1990 in their largest engines, and by the end of the decade this had filtered down to smaller engines. However the old spec is still legal. So to prepare for an unleaded future, anyone contemplating an overhaul should go directly to Continental or Lycoming for cylinder assemblies so as to make sure they are obtaining new spec parts.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 11:16 AM    Report this comment

For those wondering how we handle unleaded AVGAS 91/96 UL and AVGAS 100 LL with my company in Sweden the story as follows: We first produce unleaded 91/96 UL (which actually is a 94 UL fuel) and then a batch of the unleaded AVGAS 91/96 UL fuel gets a dose of lead, scavenger, dyes and antioxidants and then you have 100 LL.(the fuel actually meets old grade 108/135 octane wise). So the both fuels carry the same basefuel. For distribution each fuel lorry has several tank compartments and of course leaded fuel is separated from unleaded. Each fuel type leaded or unleaded has its own pump/meter and hose on the truck -- but the compartments are built in that way that if we have a customer that wants only 100 LL the entire truck can deliver 100 LL or vice versa if someone wants the fuel truck to be unleaded. By having such a distribution system with unleaded fuel we cover up for the volume MOGAS would have "taken" from us and instead provide a real unleaded AVGAS and without ethanol. As an AVGAS producer and seeing it from the view of the users -- its a win - win situation. cont.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 11:46 AM    Report this comment

We produce both the leaded and unleaded and the customer gets the choice of having an unleaded fuel without ethanol which also is an AVGAS meeting D910 standard for AVGAS. As unleaded AVGAS is one production step before leaded AVGAS it is also cheaper to produce and we also sell it at a lower price than 100 LL. Taken the volume unleaded AVGAS "takes" from a potential MOGAS supplier -- in the end we sell more AVGAS as a total than if we only had leaded 100 LL --- and as such we earn more money. The government then helps us by providing elimination of fuel taxes if real AVGAS (inclusive unleaded) is used for example in flight schools or other non pleasure activities.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 11:46 AM    Report this comment

"any worries about or evidence of phase separation? Any seal, hose or O-ring issues? Carb float issues?"

Apparently the amount of water in the fuel is a predictor of bad times so it appears we should be testing for dissolved/suspended water and better awareness of the temps that cause phase separation. I don't know how to do that, but certainly it's possible.

As far as the seals, we'll install Viton when needed, but so far there hasn't been a need. The seal on a fuel sender is wet, but it is 44 years old so it's hard to draw a cause and effect relationship. We replace fuel and oil hoses at ten year intervals and there are no apparent problems there either. The carb was a July 2005 overhaul from Precision with the SB for a sinkable float that came out that same year. The carb filter had bits of evaporated milk-like flakes not found in the gascolator. Perhaps from the gas cans. That's the only ill effect of mogas to date. We'll overhaul the engine this winter for a worn cam, discovered before using autogas and will replace the carb float then. I'll report any carb corrosion if I find it.

A noted difference between mogas and 10LL is the oil color: it gets black and stinky with mogas, greenish and not so stinky with 100LL. The bottom spark plugs stay much cleaner on mogas and don't get near the deposits.

Posted by: Thomas Connor | December 2, 2010 11:50 AM    Report this comment

So you're not blowing any gaskets? (Fraser will blow his when he hears that)

The entrained water isn't much of an issue, evidently, since it run through the engine with combustion. Might make for higher crankcase moisture content, which is a corrosion worry. Hard to say.

The phase separation you would notice with normal sumping and you're not likely to see it with a lot of gas running through the engine. Todd cited that incident with the fish spotter, but I thought he told me it was inconclusive on how the water got in.

My mogas survey is revealing mixed data on this. Some are saying the ethanol risk is overstated, others that it's not. I just talked to a company developing an ethanol separator for mogas...interesting concept.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 12:22 PM    Report this comment

I don't think there's any question as to how the water got there. Through the vents is the only way in.

Separating ethanol from gas with water will work, but it leaves you with less octane and the resulting water/ethanol mix is considered hazardous waste.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 2, 2010 1:07 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Petersen is an expert in the field. Please re-read his postings for words like "peroxide" before just thinking it's still just the ethanol that corrodes aluminum and gasket material.

Suffice it to say the ethanol itself in the combustion process produces less power (or the same power at higher fuel flow rates). Reason enough that the higher price of Ethanol is not beneficial/economical.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 2, 2010 1:07 PM    Report this comment

Great details, Lars, sounds like a brilliant solution. "Ethanol separator" ? In most cases, if this works, the results will be a highly corrosive water/ethanol solution and BOB, i.e. sub-octane fuel that is not a legal fuel for anything. Good luck on disposing the ethanol/water slop. What's the point of this? The whole ethanol issue is a moot point anyway since the EISA 2007/RFS mandates goal is to take all gasoline in the U.S. to E85, 85% ethanol. EISA 2007 is not an E10 law, but an E85 law. E10 is just a step on the path to this. E15 is already approved. Ethanol is a non-starter in engines not designed for E85. For Mogas to be a viable long-term option, ethanol must be banned from 91 AKI octane Premium.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 2, 2010 1:11 PM    Report this comment

Todd -- Kalisz heavy radials are certified on unleaded AVGAS 91/96 UL. There are no valve problems there. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antonov_PZL-Kalisz_ASz-61R_1000_hp_7_cyl_radial_engine.jpg

And I think Kalisz is owned by Pratt and Whitney -- however the company is located in Poland.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 2, 2010 3:15 PM    Report this comment

>>I have been using mogas in my airplane for over 20 years with excellent results. I have started separating the alcohol from gasoline to remain within the STC. I strip 50-gallons at a time, the alcohol water mix is easily disposed of. Mogas is no longer available in my area without alcohol.<<

From a California reader/aircraft owner.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 4:55 PM    Report this comment

Lars and Paul M, Sorry for any confusion - I am not proposing to abandon those engines and their owners. I think one new 100UL-type fuel that can run in all spark ignition engines is the solution. Derived from Jurassic juice no doubt. Paul M, Electrical power is my preference too. A true paradigm shift. Until the energy storage/weight/density issues are sorted, I like the medium-term chances of bio-diesel, particularly as it can span transport categories.

Posted by: John Hogan | December 2, 2010 4:55 PM    Report this comment

Lars, from a correspondent in Sweden: "Cost for 91/96UL is about 16-18SEK/liter (that's about 1.86€) and 100LL is the same range. This is with fuel tax (that the EU were nice enough to force Sweden to implement)."

I calculate that at 7.44€ or $9.83 a gallon. Is this correct? How much is the EU tax? At that price, bio sources start to look awfully good. So does Jet A.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 5:02 PM    Report this comment

>>When we had our 3rd-party lab do the testing, the results were: Ethanol content: Before 10.3%, After 0.0% Octane rating: Before 91.3, After 88.7<<

From a company about to develop a small scale ethanol separator. I'll let him know this doesn't work.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 5:07 PM    Report this comment

Pauk - it's 3.78l/gal, not 4. That makes it 7.03Euro per US gallon. Or $9.29/gal. Not a huge difference, but it is there.

Still makes alternate fuels a lot more attractive. Regular petrol is on a similar price difference. That's a big reason why diesel cars are so hugely popular there. Not only are they more fuel effecient, but diesel is a lot cheaper (or at least the tax on diesel is a lot lower than petrol).

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 2, 2010 5:50 PM    Report this comment

Andrew - bingo - tax policies in Europe have in the past favored diesel, but some countries have now switched and diesel is more expensive. The usual unintended consequences when bureaucrats attempt to meddle in what should be a free market. Paul - what ASTM standard does this fellow's alcohol-less fuel comply with? D4814? Does it have FAA approval? Is it covered by an STC?

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 2, 2010 6:19 PM    Report this comment

Paul - what ASTM standard does this fellow's alcohol-less fuel comply with? D4814? Does it have FAA approval? Is it covered by an STC?

DADT, probably. For experimentals, who cares? Point is, there are people out there (a) burning E10 successfully and (b) doing the ethanol separation. I doubt if stale mogas meets the ASTM either, what then?

My reaction, rather than sniffing at the legality, would be: how's that working technically? Like I said, might be time for another look at it. The old truths are sometimes right, but they sometimes die hard, too. I'd like to see more work on it.

Andrew, I did a fast conversion on the liter. Should have been more accurate. Anything over about $7 causes me to become woozy anyway.

Having said that, there is $8-plus avgas in the U.S. at the reliably ridiculously priced Signature in TEB. Their margin on that is almost $5.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 2, 2010 6:53 PM    Report this comment

Paul - current taxes on AVGAS in Sweden are: energy-taxes: 2:05 USD/USG, CO2taxes:1:31. These taxes can be claimed back if flight is non pleasure such as flight training, company flights etc. Retail price is about without taxes are 5:14 USD/USG for 100 LL and for unleaded 91/96 UL 5:04 USD/USG. A bioproduct may remove the CO2 tax part. We have worked hard on ether of ethanol (ETBE) which does not attract water and is an excellent component for AVGAS claimed by CESSNA in a 400 pages report. Using ETBE based on bio-ethanol would sure allow for a reduction in the CO2 tax. Further we have in pipeline hydrocarbons from paper-mills which also are biomaterial. The Swedish minister of environment is positive to change the tax-structure for fuels that are environmentally friendly. First in line will be the unleaded AVGAS we produce that unfortunately today is taxes as leaded AVGAS. The recent carte blance approval from EASA opens up this topic. In the EU there are possibilities to obtain tax-concessions for longer periods such as 5 years to establish a market on a new developed fuel product.

We continue to work with solutions that will suit the existing AVGAS fleet. HÈ

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 3, 2010 12:55 AM    Report this comment

cont. However obtacles are many -- mainly political. We had our 100 UL AVGAS ready in 2005 and environmentally tested with the Swiss Civil Aviation Authority and German DLR (similar to US NASA) on a Swiss air force base in 2006. However the gasoline formula was not politically correct in the USA - and as such that fuel formula has been stalled by the respective administrative units handling these things in the USA. The octane bosting component in our unleaded 100 UL grade AVGAS is ETBE.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 3, 2010 12:56 AM    Report this comment

I'm told by other sources that the barriers in the U.S. against ETBE are more legal than political, although the two are related. EPA pushed the oil industry to build out MTBE oxygenate capacity, then the industry lost a ton of money on lawsuits related to ground water pollution, they are thus not interested much in the ethers.

But there is no EPA regulation against them, that I know of. So why not export the fuel (ETBE-based 100UL) as a test project to the U.S. market? Or, even simpler, export the 91/96, which is already approved, to the U.S. as a test market?

The single largest issue in all of this--at least in the U.S.--is that potential customers are not expressing demand. They don't know what they don't know or what they'll do. They can't make the cost/value choice between having to pay to modify a high-compression engine to run on 91/96 or paying more for an unleaded 100-octane that will make modifications unnecessary.

They further can't make the larger judgment on whether to accept that a portion of the fleet will be scrapped if 91/96/94 is the fuel because owners won't buy the mods or the mods won't apply to some engines.

Demand will not materialize out of this confused state. And without demand, you cannot go forward. This is why I favor rapid approval of all of these fuels so the market can sort it out.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 5:00 AM    Report this comment

Paul - We cannot go anywhere without an ASTM standard -- and that,s where it has been now for almost 5 years in spite of having the best documented unleaded fuel ever available. Yes the documentation is better and more extensive than when 100 LL was approved. This fact also stops further transition in the EU because we rely on the US standards. And as known before -- the standardization process is a consensus process which can drag forever if there are wills for that.

By the way the largest production site in the world for ETBE is in the US which is the main supplier to Japan now when Japan has decided to use ETBE instead of ethanol in their car gasoline. And as known before ETBE is an approved agent by the FAA in AVGAS 82 UL or MOGAS. It is all political!

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 3, 2010 7:27 AM    Report this comment

"This is why I favor rapid approval of all of these fuels so the market can sort it out."

Now the market needs infrastructure for all of these new fuels just to see which one will sell? Tell me again why you were against promoting non-Ethanol MoGas that's already approved and is cheaper than every alternative? Why even consider new additives that could come back and bite GA later?

The solution for gasoline in GA is simple: Don't increase costs with expensive additives(ethanol or biofuel)and don't use questionable additives (lead or ETBE). That benefits GA and also protects the environment. What a concept.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2010 7:44 AM    Report this comment

"DADT, probably. For experimentals, who cares? The old truths are sometimes right, but they sometimes die hard, too. I'd like to see more work on it. "

Paul, the problems with ethanol are not urban legends, they are facts recently documented by the EASA, Cessna and others, all based on extensive testing in a variety of engines. On the other hand, "stale Mogas" is a thing of the past and is one of the many urban legends surrounding Mogas that we're trying to debunk. If Mogas is stale today, it is because it's tainted with ethanol. 100LL and Mogas will, after a long period of time, both break down. Neither 100LL nor Jet-A are immune from this. Washing the ethanol from Mogas might work for one brave (foolish) soul in his own EXP airplane, but this is not a serious solution for G.A. If this person would expend as much energy working with his state legislature and Congressman to help us ban ethanol from Premium gas, he'd have all the Mogas he needs, and so would millions of other Americans who need it for a variety of reasons. But Californians have historically capitulated on such issues, which is why their economy is today in the tank and many are fleeing the state. Many pilots are too often satisfied when their own personal needs are met, and avoid political battles at all costs. See a recent report on the dangers of ethanol washing here: http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?p=32284#more-32284

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 3, 2010 7:47 AM    Report this comment

>> a portion of the fleet will be scrapped if 91/96/94 is the fuel <<

Why is this the only possibility for the future? This seems like a myopic view that requires the solution that works for some group must be chosen and that means other groups must go away and die. To make this even harder to understand, proponents of this "One Fuel" idea seem to hold onto it with a religious-like fervor.

We live in a huge world with a lot of different people with different priorities and points of view. We don't all use the same logic to reach our decisions. Even if there were a universal set of "Facts" we still would reach different conclusions because of our basic differences. I think this applies to airports and FBOs just as it does to individual humans.

I wish I could wave my magic wand and convince the "One fuel" cool-aid drinkers that this just ain't so.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 3, 2010 8:06 AM    Report this comment

Kent, this reminds me a little of the lean of peak argument of 15 years ago. The entrenched interests said it couldn't be done. You'd blow up the engines. You'd fry the valves. You'd grow hair on your palms. They had good data...etc. In 2010, lean of peak is standard operating procedure for half the fleet, saving millions of gallons of gas.

Now you're saying these owners can't burn E10. They can't separate ethanol and for a source, you point me to your own blog saying they can't do this because you say they can't. (I get that. I sort of even agree.)

All I can tell you is this: These owners in the face of the absolute certainty that this can't be done are just doing it, evidently with good results. I make no value judgement on this. Maybe you're right. Maybe they're just lucky and living on borrowed time.

Point is, I am observing your theory and their reality. The two don't match.

Make sense?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 8:37 AM    Report this comment

Paul, tell me this: What would you tell the owner of something like a Navajo with TSIO-540-J2BDs or even a 540K owner of a Saratoga. Lycoming says these engines won't run on anything but 100-octane equivalent. Systems like the emerging IE2 won't close a six to nine-octane gap.

You would propose a two fuel system, would you not? In Lars' two-fuel system in Sweden there is about a 15 cent gap between 91/96 and 100LL. (Let's say UL will be as cheap.) So I have asked these operators if they'd install a $50,000 fuel system to split what is essentially going to be the same volume that, globally, is declining. They all ask: why would I do that?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 8:45 AM    Report this comment

Paul, we did not say it could not be done. We said that if you use the resulting fuel in a certified airplane, you are breaking the law and not following your POH. Your insurance company will probably use this as evidence to annul your policy when and if the engine fails or catches on fire. There have been numerous, detailed, accurate studies done on the use of 100% ethanol and ethanol blends in aviation dating back to the 1930s - there really isn't anything new here. We know its effects, its pros and cons. I'd be happy to summarize all these reports from EASA, Cessna, EAA, Petersen, several universities, etc. Our opinions are not based on heresay or shade-tree mechanics but reams of test data.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 3, 2010 8:46 AM    Report this comment

If you turn this question around and ask the customers--the people who burn the gas, guess what answer your get? Nothing. They don't know what they want just yet because the market is confused and not coalesced in a way that suppliers can hear it. If the operators (FBOs) don't hear demand, they won't act. It's that simple. Same for the oil companies. They'll hold status quo until the whole system collapses.

Let's not forget that Lars--and throughout Sweden--is operating a vertical system. He pays for the tanks, the trucks and facilities and he gets the proceeds of the fuel sale. No reason this can't work in the U.S. But that third party will have to step up and start marketing at some point. The airports, unless they hear a strong customer voice, won't and often can't do it.

Far more sensible for a two-fuel system is mogas. It's got a big price delta over avgas, those who use it love it and it just works. Two approved fuels with a 15 cent Delta? That's $180 a year for the typical flyer but a lot less for most. It's not even chump change.

You can dream about two-fuel all you want, but that and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. Unless and until demand for those two-fuels develops, the idea is DOA. In fact, using AVweb and our surveys to customers who actually would buy the gas, I am beginning to think the only ones who really grasp the demand thing are the guys using mogas.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 8:58 AM    Report this comment

"They don't know what they want just yet because the market is confused"

Confused? EVERY survey you can find shows that customers don't want higher prices. The market IS NOT confused at all. Ethanol raises cost of both the fuel and certification/maintenance. Biofuel just raises cost.

GA is not complex. Get gasoline cheap and don't throw in ethanol into our bare aluminum wing tanks that are wide open to the atmosphere.

Save GA: Don't raise gasoline/maintenance costs.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2010 9:23 AM    Report this comment

Kent--yeah, sent me the summary as the counterpoint. I probably already have the stuff, but you may have some reports I don't. I've got the AGE material and the U of M's data, plus some others.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 9:42 AM    Report this comment

Paul,

Your logic is fine for an operator who uses profit to make his decision. That guy may indeed offer only one grade of fuel.

My base is a government owned airport. The local population is used to paying for existence of the airport and port facilities. I proposed the two fuel solution to them around 6 months ago. They did some research and put $30,000 in next years budget for a second fuel tank and pump.

Most of the planes on my field would prefer 94UL to 100LL, but there are a significant number that require 100 octane. My proposal allows for continued operation of the field the day the 100LL runs out and we must wait for flow of whatever 100 octane fuel emerges. I expect that disruption to occur no matter what we do about a lower octane fuel.

The port commissioners are not in business to make a profit. Their goals include satisfying the taxpayers and tenants of the port, the airport, and the industrial park they operate. Adding a second pump seems like a good idea to them because the tenants want it and it encourages smaller plane owners to rent hangars. Keeping the 100 octane pump also seems like a good idea to them because the current tenants use it and want to continue.

Please note this is not a fancy financial calculation but a political one.

It really is possible for one airport operator to cling to a one-pump fuel solution while the one next door comes to a two-pump decision.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 3, 2010 10:42 AM    Report this comment

Great point. Big city airports with big city twins can keep dispensing high octane at high prices. That can be SwiftFuel or 100W (100 whatever). They also have the means to buy a tank with a valve if they want to service regular GA. For the other 90% of GA that owns small planes or run flight schools out of small and medium fields then unleaded MoGas can be the fuel of choice. All it takes is a wand-wave by the FAA to recognize all the effort by Petersen, EAA,and others and bless 91/93 MoGas for general consumption. They don't even have to change anything but the sign on the pump.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2010 11:18 AM    Report this comment

If what you say is true, why don't the people who would potentially provide the fuels step up? Why don't they hear the demand and make the pitch? Now is the perfect time to announce intentions.

Industry wide, the harsh calculation will be this, I expect: As a refiner, do you stick with the high margin and higher profit fuel or blow off the bottom end and take your lumps? Or do you split your already declining fuel volume into two product streams and thus raise your costs for less margin?

This is why a test market of 91/96 makes some sense. Give buyers an early option and see where they go with it. Prove the demand that way, because you can sell it now.

I'm not seeing that. I don't think it's too early to try it. See if it can sustain.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 11:43 AM    Report this comment

Mark,

I would be amazed if the FAA did a policy reversal to bless mogas for aviation use. For a long time now they have required an STC for this use on each specific airplane.

On the other hand, they could easily establish a policy that allows a new low octane aviation fuel to be used without STC. That fuel is 94UL. Rumor has it ASTM has already approved this aviation fuel and it wouldn't be surprising if the FAA endorsed that approval.

I don't expect 94UL to cost as much as 100LL but I do expect it to be higher priced than mogas. It has all the normal additives and quality control of avgas and will be distributed to airports rather than auto gas stations. The lower price comes from elimination of the very expensive additive tetra ethyl lead that would turn it into 100LL.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 3, 2010 11:52 AM    Report this comment

"Why don't they hear the demand and make the pitch? Now is the perfect time to announce intentions."

People have not heard that COST is killing GA? We need to setup a test market to see if more expensive gas will help?

Here is a huge hint: GA pilots and students only care about fuel cost. The lowest cost fuel for now and in the foreseeable future is Non-Alcohol/non-bio gasoline. That does not need to be "proven". Leaders in GA know don't know this are not leaders.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2010 12:03 PM    Report this comment

Paul,

All of your proposal is indeed happening right now. Instead of European unleaded avgas we are establishing an American unleaded avgas - 94UL. The process takes several steps and the usual amount of time to go through.

ASTM approval of 94UL was needed and rumor has it that is only a matter of waiting for publication of the already approved new standard.

Next, the FAA must bless this fuel for use in TC'd aircraft without STC. That may or may not happen. Time will tell. If they do approve it (as I expect) then we move on to the manufacturing and distribution stage.

There is no doubt of a market for 94UL - perhaps 80 percent of GA airplanes will prefer it to 100LL. The big question is the one we have been discussing for the last week here and for the last few years in the outside world. This is the question of whether there will be only one avgas available in the USA or two.

I think the two fuel solution is the best since it makes everyone happy. Yes, the exact profit for the oil companies will be a little bit different for a two fuel solution than a single fuel, but either one is such a tiny part of their overall business they just won't care.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 3, 2010 12:04 PM    Report this comment

Sorry, that should have been: Leaders in GA who don't know this are not leaders.

I agree, 94UL or a monitored E-zero MoGas is the only course. Expensive alcohol and/or bio fuel alternatives should not even be on the table as "an alternative" simply because the cost is higher and will always be higher.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2010 12:11 PM    Report this comment

The lower price comes from elimination of the very expensive additive tetra ethyl lead that would turn it into 100LL.<<

Well, not exactly. At the refinery scale, it's about a nickle to a dime, depending on which oil company's data you use. Lars gave us a price signal above: $5.04 for 91/96UL vs $5.14 for 100LL. I don't know if he's claiming higher transportation costs for leaded fuel or not, but U.S. distrubutors I know don't claim higher costs.

I think for the U.S, you can add a buck to his 91/96, for the wholesaler and the FBO margin. Remember, he cuts those guys out by owning the infrastructure including delivery trucks. Maybe you can knock the buck off for higher volume in the U.S.

But there's the rub. And it's complex. To meet the octane spec, 94UL will be made of the best (most expensive) alkylates the refineries have because they won't be able to gin it up with lead, which is cheap as an octane enhancer.

So, industry wide, all of sudden you split your 290M into two product streams. If you assume that the replacement avgas is fermented at $10 a gallon from soybeans, your alkylate demand goes from 290M to 100M. What's the gonna do to prices? Make them drop? I doubt it. The competitive pressure won't be there.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 12:25 PM    Report this comment

Bottom line, for the U.S, market, 94UL would be a little less or a little more than 100LL, depending on who's building it. Under your scenario, it needs to be less expensive than the replacement for 100LL.

An unknown. Do you think the dime price Delta Lars is showing is enough to stratify the market? I don't. But maybe when you consider the lack of lead, it's more than enough.

Again, unknown.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 12:32 PM    Report this comment

I'm getting beyond my own knowledge here, but . . .

Tetra Ethyl Lead is only made in one refinery - that I believe exists in Europe. That material (toxic - requires special handling?) must be shipped in relatively small quantities from Europe to the USA. I suspect it costs a lot more here than in Europe.

I think you are correct about 94UL needing to cost less than its high octane competitor. Even at the same price I think many airplane operators would choose it, but at a lower price nearly everyone would.

Only time will tell the exact price difference between 94UL and 100 octane fuel at any particular location or time. I have no doubt those airports that only have one pump will mostly convert to 94UL when it becomes available and properly blessed by the FAA. I hope there will still be many airports that offer 100LL or the (probably more expensive) 100 octane replacement for 100LL as well.

I think it makes more sense for those folks operating high compression engines to push for a two fuel solution rather than hoping to keep all the fuel at 100 octane. As soon as 94UL is ready for wide scale use it will be preferred by most players in aviation. Besides the fact it is more suitable for most airplanes, the environmental politics favor it. That all applies long before the emergence of a no lead replacement for 100LL.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 3, 2010 12:58 PM    Report this comment

ASTM approved 94UL last month http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?p=31520#more-31520

That does not however imply it is approved for any U.S. aircraft yet, nor has anyone announced intentions to produce and sell it.

"Why don't they hear the demand and make the pitch? Now is the perfect time to announce intentions."

What would that fuel be? E0 Mogas is very difficult to find. Airports can't risk the investment in a 2nd pump unless they are guaranteed a supply of E0. Hjelmco 94UL does not have FAA approval, although it has been in use for what, three decades, in Europe (sure sounds like protectionism to me). There aren't any other fuels other than 100LL and Jet-A out there, in reality. That's why no one has stepped up to offer an alternative.

The FAA could help though - adopt EASA's recent blanket approval for Hjelmco fuel, endorse 94UL, and turn the screws on the EPA to ban ethanol in Mogas. Then we'd have some real options.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 3, 2010 1:47 PM    Report this comment

The lead is indeed available from only one source, Inospec/Associated Octel in the UK. At least that we know of publically. There may be other sources we don't hear about. I was in a major avgas refinery two months ago and covered the process. Those TEL costs are pretty reliable. As an octane enhancer, TEL is a bargain. If the real cost of ethanol is...dunno...maybe $1.50 a gallon, it takes 15 cents of ethanol to do what 5 cents of TEL does.

Kent, it would have to be 94UL as the second fuel, even if mogas is more attractive. What you sense is "protectionism" is just procedural footdragging and politics in ASTM. I'll give you the exact parallel.

As you know, on the jet side, ASTM has approved specs for HRJ bio-jet and SPKs will be approved shortly. SPK in essentially syn kerosene from Fischer-Topsch. Rich Altman, head of the CAAFI committee that pulled that off in record time told me why: the airlines came to ASTM and said we want this stuff.

If GA did that, you'd see the specs developed and approved a lot faster. That's what I mean by the voice of demand. We're a little hobbled by still having a viable fuel in place, but so do the airlines. They're looking forward, we're arguing over nickels. Hjelmco's 91/96 is approvable, far as I know. It strikes me as a good test project because they've been making it for awhile. But the committees need to hear: We want this.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 2:53 PM    Report this comment

>>turn the screws on the EPA to ban ethanol in Mogas.<<

Yeah, but you know the liklihood of that happening is about zero. The RFS requirements are going up every year and gasoline demand has been flattening. They're gonna have to start stuffing this excess ethanol everywhere. (Don't look in your garage, you might find 200 gallons of the crap.)

To me, it makes the most sense to lobby the doable. Keep state exceptions for special uses. In Florida, we have marine, aviation and agricultural uses as exceptions. Ag seems to be the biggest market here.

Economically, mogas strikes me as the smarter option because 94UL isn't going to be as cheap as people think. But it is approvable and people want it, they need to say so and let it live or die in the market.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 3:02 PM    Report this comment

Paul you are so right. I think the voice for E0 Mogas is getting louder, but that's an ethanol issue mainly since Mogas is already approved and has a great track record. Fortunately, there is a much larger community of non-aviators out there pushing for a ban on ethanol in Premium. It's still an uphill battle though; a combined word of support for the other approved aviation fuel - Mogas - from the alphabets, aimed at the FAA and EPA, sure would help but all we hear now is an echo. The new smaller fuel stations we have at U-Fuel should be affordable for Mogas, or 94UL for that matter. Now we just need to make sure we can deliver the fuel and the numbers all work out. Stay tuned. If the FAA would get onboard and accept the EASA approval for Hjelmco's 94UL, I'd bet it would have a chance here. Surely the country that produces the most ETBE can also approve its use in aviation.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 3, 2010 3:10 PM    Report this comment

No need to ban ethanol in MoGas. Suppliers just don't have to use Ethanol for batches interned for Aviation use. They already have that process in place (with 100LL) not add add Ethanol. Same process, same tanks, same trucks for delivery that Aviation already uses.

Suggesting that leaving out Ethanol at the supplier is the normal process now for aviation fuels. The likelihood that it can be done is 100%. Yes, MoGas without Ethanol from the supplier.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 3, 2010 3:20 PM    Report this comment

ETBE is already approved for use in aviation. When oxygenate blending began, I think around 1991, ETBE and MTBE were both approved by the FAA for use with the existing mogas STC's. So fuel can be oxygenated, just not with ethanol. ETBE shows none of the ill effects that are inherent in using gasoline blended with ethanol.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 3, 2010 3:20 PM    Report this comment

Here is the spec for ETBE fuel.

http://www.astm.org/Standards/D7618.htm

The problem isn't the fuel. The problem is no one in the U.S. wants to make it for legal liability issues. Evidently, lots of ETBE capacity in the U.S. They are exporting it to other countries, including Europe if I am not mistaken.

On the return trip, maybe the product tankers could bring back 91/96...

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 3, 2010 3:57 PM    Report this comment

Mark, agreed but not enough demand for E0 Mogas yet, and gas companies are aflood in ethanol due to mandates. This discussion helps though. I met with a fuel supplier today who understands the market potential for an ethanol-free recreational fuel for aviation and others. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 3, 2010 4:43 PM    Report this comment

>> They're gonna have to start stuffing this excess ethanol everywhere. (Don't look in your garage, you might find 200 gallons of the crap.) <<

Actually it might be pretty good with some orange juice and ice cubes . . .

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 3, 2010 6:22 PM    Report this comment

ETBE is a preferred oxygenate in the EU (more inhabitant than the US), Japan and other major consumption areas. Certain US actors think there could be legal liability issues for ground water contamination. On the other hand the same and other US actors are involved in shale oil/gas activities in the US where there REALLY are concern about ground water contamination. The risks in shale oil/gas industry is probably some ten million times higher than if some above ground AVGAS tank with ETBE would start to leak at airfields. So at the end it is about politics. But when the processes in the ASTM prevents an ETBE fuel to get its standard it also prevents other countries than the US to get such a fuel. It is risky path for those actors because in the end no-one knows if there will be an unleaded 100 grade AVGAS in time -- and then the market could just be gone. These actors would have to carry a very heavy burden. Here some relevant ETBE documents among others from the FAA. http://www.hjelmco.com/pages.asp?r_id=14663

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 4, 2010 3:01 AM    Report this comment

But when the processes in the ASTM prevents an ETBE fuel to get its standard it also prevents other countries than the US to get such a fuel. It is risky path for those actors because in the end no-one knows if there will be an unleaded 100 grade AVGAS in time -- and then the market could just be gone. <<

Whether this overstates the case or not, I don't know. But it does relate to what I have been saying here: Without stated demand from users, ASTM and oil companies will remain in status quo until the last minute. And that comes full circle to the point of this blog: The FOE action forces the issue.

Otherwise, we've got our collective heads up our asses. And by way, for you folks who are irritated at the single-fuel crowd--the 100-octane coalition--they have made their voice heard loud and clear. If you favor the two-fuel approach, you haven't.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 4, 2010 7:15 AM    Report this comment

2 quick points, and then I hope to sign off this conversation . . .

1. ASTM can do whatever it wants. No external pressure is required - market demand or anything else. Anybody can join ASTM and become a huge force in the standards process and direction. It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to be active in the standards business, but there are no barriers to entry for anyone who wants to perform this volunteer work. This is especially true for product users (as opposed to producers) who are in short supply on most (all?) of the committees. (I just joined and became active on the F37 committee that controls Light Sport Aircraft standards.)

2. The "One-Fuel crowd - 100-octane coalition" is playing a very dangerous game which they can only lose . . . or at best break even if there is no change in the fuel situation. They not only need to keep the one-fuel situation in place but they need to keep that fuel at 100 octane. There is a real possibility that the one fuel will become 94UL now that it is approved by ASTM and there is no replacement for 100LL approved. If, instead, they worked for a two fuel solution they would be guaranteed of continued flow of 100 octane even if 100LL becomes extinct.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 4, 2010 8:40 AM    Report this comment

"...they would be guaranteed of continued flow of 100 octane even if 100LL becomes extinct...."

Huh?

In any case, is anyone on this blog trying to make their points to the Congressional General Aviation Caucus? NBAA, GAMA, AOPA, etc. are.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | December 4, 2010 12:12 PM    Report this comment

I think the press can do a lot to inform the average user about options. While beeing in the unleaded AVGAS business for 3 decades I have not seen any articles about the Swedish experience either in the Avweb or for example in the AOPA Pilot. Avweb did not even write about the SIB from EASA issued early Nov 2010 about our fuel which in reality is a major mile-stone for Europe. Now I have to close -- going to the ASTM AVGAS meeting in Jacksonville FL starting now on Monday Dec 06 and its a long way to travel from Stockholm Sweden. Those interested can join. All relevant actors will be there.

Posted by: Lars Hjelmberg Hjelmco Oil Sweden | December 4, 2010 12:31 PM    Report this comment

>> "...they would be guaranteed of continued flow of 100 octane even if 100LL becomes extinct...."

Huh? <<

Any airport or FBO that already has two pumps will continue to pump low octane fuel when the high octane stuff disappears from the market. Then when a new high octane fuel becomes available they will have an empty tank and pump ready to start supplying the fuel to planes again.

In the case of a one pump operation that has converted to 94UL the climb to get a second pump installed for the few planes that need it would be a steep one.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 4, 2010 12:49 PM    Report this comment

Well, the airports and FBOs I deal with have two systems already, 100LL and Jet A. I can't imagine them putting in another for 94UL. 94UL is a non-starter for the equipment needing 100LL, which buy most of the Avgas.

Again, if you're pushing a 94UL agenda, you should make your arguements to the Congressional General Aviation Caucus. This is the only group that I see that could possibly have real influence.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | December 4, 2010 1:06 PM    Report this comment

"And by way, for you folks who are irritated at the single-fuel crowd--the 100-octane coalition--they have made their voice heard loud and clear. If you favor the two-fuel approach, you haven't." At least for us Mogas supporters, this is not the case. We have established an E0 Premium coalition that extends way beyond aviation. We have given many talks on the subject, have multiple web sites full of reports backing our opinions, have established the leading resource for finding E0 (www.PURE-GAS.org), have contacted all the alphabets, the FAA, EPA, and FOE multiple times, and have a strong basis for our ban on ethanol in Premium at our petition to the EPA. The aviation alphabets however have all but ignored us. We're not sure what more we can do at this point. It is quite clear that the alphabets are not really interested in any dual-fuel solution and have said as much in their pronouncements the past 12 months, LAMA being one notable exception as they do support Mogas.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 4, 2010 5:32 PM    Report this comment

"you should make your arguements to the Congressional General Aviation Caucus. This is the only group that I see that could possibly have real influence."

Have been in touch recently with Congressmen Graves and Coble recently, members of the House GA Caucus. I will be meeting with Congressman Coble over the holiday recess.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 4, 2010 5:33 PM    Report this comment

I am referring here, Kent, to approved fuels. The mogas push is essentially invisible to the oil companies, ASTM and the alphabets because they don't believe in it enough to put effort into it. With the size of the ethanol mandates coming, I think it's a lost cause for them.

I don't sense there's enough grass roots interest in mogas to change that. Not to diminish your laudable efforts, I don't think you're going to get major traction on it. You should, probably, but I am not seeing it. The majority of people I talked to this week--about 25 interviews and 95 e-mail surveys--expressed a serious lack of confidence in future supply, even as they like the idea.

They shouldn't necessarily feel that way, given the state exemptions. But they do. Right now, E0 appears to be entirely a locally market driven niche. One major I called this week, whose jobbers market E0 heavily in the Keys, offered me this quote when I asked about nationally based E0 programs. "We are not interested in participating in that. We prefer not to even discuss it." Haven't called Exxon yet. Wonder what they'll say?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 4, 2010 6:39 PM    Report this comment

Hicks Oil, who supplies Fort Myers, told me they are absolutely committed to E0, but then in the next breath said "but the government might change that." Yet Florida has the exemptions in place and no one thinks they're going to be eliminated.

The only glimmer of hope is if the replacement for 100LL is pretty expensive, say $7 or $8. That could push enough interest to develop the demand and interest you need to succeed and convince the jobbers to stay in the game.

Again, this argues for getting the approvals out there sooner rather than later so we know what fuels we might expect and how much they'll cost. It seems to me the longer your effort goes without gelling some demand, the worse it will be because the RFS mandate keeps climbing against flat gasoline demand.

That could mean even if the mandates are there, the local distributors won't find enough uniform interest to make it worth doing.

Tick-tock. The longer we delay on visibility of replacement fuels, the worse it could get, the more the market erosion and so forth. I agree with you that mogas is a good alternative. I'm just not seeing market resonance.

Do you see this differently?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 4, 2010 6:53 PM    Report this comment

What is OBVIOUS is that no one supports us that only need 80/87 Gasoline. AOPA/AvWeb etc all don't care a whit for us small owners and new pilots. A pox to AOPA/AvWeb for turning their backs on GA.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 4, 2010 9:49 PM    Report this comment

An yes, I am canceling my membership with AOPA.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 4, 2010 9:51 PM    Report this comment

Kent, what is the pitch to Coble?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 5, 2010 3:55 AM    Report this comment

"but then in the next breath said "but the government might change that." It seems they do not understand the RFS in EISA 2007. The government tells no oil company where to put ethanol, only that they need to sell ever-increasing levels of it. Any oil company can offer a "recreational fuel" for exempted off-road vehicles including boats and airplanes. Marathon offers two different grades of recreational fuels, alas not at airports (yet). Flint Hills sells a great deal of 91/93 octane E0 in the midwest and is committed to continued sales for all who need it. Ironically, in the major corn-producing states, E0 is plentiful.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 5, 2010 2:45 PM    Report this comment

"I agree with you that mogas is a good alternative. I'm just not seeing market resonance."

Demand is there if you talk to pilots, but not if you talk to FBOs, Airport Managers and mainstream fuelers. This will be a bottom's up effort that will take some time for FBOs to understand. But it will happen.

"what is the pitch to Coble?"

Simple - hundreds of millions of engines need an ethanol-free fuel, so ban ethanol in Premium gas. This will also reduce lead emissions and lower costs for G.A. It's up to people like me then to get the fuel tanks and Mogas on airfields. We can not depend on any help from FBOs, major aviation fuel providers or the aviation alphabets.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 5, 2010 2:49 PM    Report this comment

The EPA is starting to realize that the RFS ethanol mandates were very unrealistic. They just lowered the mandate for cellulosic (non-corn) ethanol to only 6% of the original requirements. We fully expect a re-examination of the corn-based ethanol mandates soon as these too are unachievable. The EPA will also have to answer for the millions in property damage and safety risks already caused by ethanol in our fuels. There are quite a few reports of in-flight engine failures and even deaths as a result of ethanol contamination, but we need to verify these before making claims. See this link for news on cellulosic mandate reductions. Note that even AlGore is on our side now, FWIW: http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?p=32556#more-32556

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 5, 2010 2:54 PM    Report this comment

My error - new cellulosic ethanol mandate is less than 3% of the original. Makes you wonder how they could have been so wrong, and it puts the entire RFS mandates in question.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 5, 2010 2:56 PM    Report this comment

More from the fleet mech. Many Chev 1 ton trucks were left outside in the winter. Come spring they would not start. A shot glass of gas in the carb. would get them to start but they would not run.

I prepared a 1/4 self tapping shoulder bolt with an O ring and drove an all into the low corner of a fuel tank and drained over an inch of gas into a flat pan. The fuel looked milky - I sealed the tank with the bolt and prepared to pick up the tools etc. A glance at the drained fuel showed it had cleared up and there were blobs of water on the bottom of the pan. The alcohol had evaporated and dropped the water.

Very large additions of isopropal alcohol (the kindest form?) allowed the trucks to swallow their own problem.

Not what I want in an aircraft! The longer the aircraft sits with E10 or more, the worse it will be, and that does not address the predetination problem in hot weather.

Posted by: Arnold Allison | December 5, 2010 6:24 PM    Report this comment

I was unaware that any 1-ton pickups were anything but diesels.

Paul M.: >> They're gonna have to start stuffing this excess ethanol everywhere. (Don't look in your garage, you might find 200 gallons of the crap.) <<

Actually it might be pretty good with some orange juice and ice cubes . . . <<<

I know you're being facetious, but it reality that ethanol is almost certainly denatured so as to not be potable.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 6, 2010 2:42 PM    Report this comment

Andrew,

Actually, I was trying to lighten up and add a little humor to the conversation.

In fact, I don't drink alcohol at all - I have a really mean doctor.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 6, 2010 2:58 PM    Report this comment

Oh, I know. But, most (all??) of the problems with people going blind on moonshine in the 20's and 30's was becuase of bootleggers getting ahold of industrial ethanol (that was denatured) and blending it with their hooch.

Personally, if it weren't so illegal I'd have my own still and would be making my own whiskey and brandy. But I would not be burning any of the product in my engines.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 6, 2010 6:57 PM    Report this comment

"the problems with people going blind on moonshine in the 20's and 30's was becuase of bootleggers getting ahold of industrial ethanol"

No, the problem is with the mash and the still. If you don't watch the temperature on the distillation then you can get the early fraction that contains poisonous methanol...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 7, 2010 1:34 PM    Report this comment

And that's why distillers throw away the foreshots (first 2% or so of the distillate). Nearly, if not every, account I've read about WRT methanol poisoning in moonshine was traced to bootleggers using stolen industrial (and therefore denatured) ethanol to boost profits. That or people that didn't know any better drinking that same denatured ethanol they'd stolen for themselves.

Between nanny staters that don't want us making our own whiskey, and oil companies that don't want us making our own fuel, they concocted the story of blindness due to sloppy distillers so as to keep home distillation illegal.

While there may well have been a few cases of sloppy distillers accidentally poisoning their customers, it was, by and large, the blending of denatured ethanol that was the cause of those problems.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 7, 2010 5:11 PM    Report this comment

"And that's why distillers throw away the foreshots" "oil companies that don't want us making our own fuel"

Real distillers kept secrets. Real distillers were put out of business for almost 15 years. Home brew and makeshift stills fill demand. They did not know the niceties of real distillers and their makeshift stills had leaks and poor temperature control.

There is a REASON why the state thought it was better to let the professionals handle distilleries and went back to licensing/tax. There is a reason why the state does not want home-brew fuel farms in your back yard.

Letting the professionals handle things on a huge scale means lower cost for everyone. What's needed is to convince Congress of the FACTS that "renewable fuels" are harder on the environment, cost more in energy than they produce, are less efficient, and insanely expensive.

Let the professionals handle the petroleum stills and we have petroleum gasoline for cheap for 300 years. Let amateurs in and everyone suffers.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 8, 2010 7:20 AM    Report this comment

"What's needed is to convince Congress of the FACTS that "renewable fuels" are harder on the environment, cost more in energy than they produce, are less efficient, and insanely expensive."

That I will agree with you on. I'll leave it there.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 8, 2010 11:58 AM    Report this comment

Bootleggers stealing large amounts would easily distill it to pure Ethanol (a piece of cake). That's why I was curious where your source was that the problem in the main was stolen denatured alcohol. Small scale theft yes, large scale theft/distribution no.

Any source that the problem was widespread through distributors and theft? I just wanna know. It sounds interesting.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 8, 2010 12:30 PM    Report this comment

"Bootleggers stealing large amounts would easily distill it to pure Ethanol (a piece of cake)."

Sorry, but that is not correct. Denatured ethanol contains an additive (besides methanol) that makes it all but impossible to distill that methanol out of the solution. They figured out that methanol alone wasn't good enough rather quickly. I forget what that additive is off the top of my head.

The rest I'll leave to your own Google-fu. It's been a couple years since I looked it up, but the info is out there. There is a website out of New Zealand that goes into a lot of this IIRC (home distillation of beverage alcohol is legal there).

BTW, I did some napkin math and it would take something like 1.5-3 liters of 100% ABV hooch that did not have the foreshots discarded to get enough methanol to poison you, depending on the source of the mash. You'd die of regular college frat party grade alcohol poisoning first. The fusel oils (that taste nasty and can be toxic) would probably be a bigger problem than the methanol in poorly made moonshine. That or if the bootlegger used a car radiator for the condenser (glycol and lead contamination).

Posted by: Andrew Upson | December 8, 2010 2:48 PM    Report this comment

It is my understanding that it's denatured with gasoline.

Posted by: Todd L. Petersen | December 8, 2010 5:35 PM    Report this comment

Good news? Congress is thinking of letting expire the Ethanol subsidies in 20 days?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 9, 2010 7:52 AM    Report this comment

That would be good news overall. We don't need a subsidy and a mandate. Let the market decided what fuel to use.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | December 9, 2010 8:40 AM    Report this comment

Yea, strange bedfellows: "MoveOn.org, FreedomWorks, more than four dozen groups, and Al Gore all called on Congress to let the ethanol tax credit expire at the end of the year."

Hope for Ethanol free MoGas may come to use little GA folks after all...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 9, 2010 9:29 AM    Report this comment

As long as the mandates are in place, there will be continuing pressure against non-ethanol gas. Refiners are expected to hit the blend wall next year--not enough gas for all that alcohol.

That could mean E15 in the market, a potential disaster. Or it could mean E85 becomes more than a curiosity and someone actually builds the infrastructure to sell the stupid stuff.

There's also the remote but maybe not impossible chance EPA will be forced to rollback the mandates, which would collapse corn prices and whack the ethanol industry hard. Could happen. Maybe pigs can fly, too.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 9, 2010 10:55 AM    Report this comment

I'm told that with sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. As far as the ethanol issue goes, there seems to be an impressive bipartisan senatorial show of support for reducing or eliminating ethanol subsidies. Any guesses as to how much the corn lobby will spend to put the kibosh on this?

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | December 9, 2010 11:12 AM    Report this comment

"As long as the mandates are in place, there will be continuing pressure against non-ethanol gas."

Paul, And NOW is the time for GA supporters to step up and PRESSURE and end to Ethanol. Tell me why the heck they are on the sidelines while EIA is proposing lower levels for 2011 and subsidies are about to be cut?

Again, there seems to be ZERO support for GA from GA support groups. At least Moveon.org is working for GA on the fuel problem!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 9, 2010 11:34 AM    Report this comment

There are three big problems with the Ethanol laws that could all be corrected. I don't know what is on the table right now, but I would be happy if all three problems went away: 1. Ethanol is mandated in auto fuel. It makes the fuel more expensive and less energy dense. 2. There are an assortment of subsidies to ethanol/corn producers. None are needed since use of their product is mandated by government anyway. 3. There is a punitive import duty on ethanol - I think it is around $0.55 per gallon.

Elimination of all of these government interventions in the free marketplace would produce less expensive and more efficient fuel for all Americans. The only reasons not to do this (in my opinion) are a desire to push money on corn processors in return for big campaign contributions - AKA corruption, and a strange desire on the part of Green advocates to eliminate any form of personal transportation so we all ride buses and trains - an idea that only works for those who spend their entire lives in big cities.

Posted by: PAUL MULWITZ | December 9, 2010 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Well, let's see--today's Des Moine Register reports that the tax deal Obama just made with the Republicans will extend blender credits through 2011. It's not clear if it's at the 45 cent or a lower level, like 36 cents. Nothing on the table to cut the tariff or reduce EPA mandates, although that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

Iowa primary is not too far off, ya know.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 9, 2010 11:56 AM    Report this comment

Al Gore admitted at a green energy conference in Athens that ethanol was a bad idea... "I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”

The inconvenient truth is out there. Not CAPITALIZING on that for the good of GA (and everyone) is inconceivable. AOPA? AvWeb? Anyone?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 9, 2010 12:04 PM    Report this comment

According to the news, House Democrats just voted to kill the tax deal. It ain't over till it's over. Des Moines Register and Grassley are of course in the tank with the ethanol industry.

Regardless of the outcome of blender credits, the ethanol quotas can not be absorbed even at 100% E10 in all gas stations, or E15 for that matter. Something will have to give.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 9, 2010 12:55 PM    Report this comment

Well, I've written my congressional delegation. In reality, I agree something will have to give. I just don't think it will be ADM.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 9, 2010 2:32 PM    Report this comment

Thank you Paul. If only more people like you would find their backbone. Kent

Posted by: Kent Misegades | December 9, 2010 6:48 PM    Report this comment

FYI, the current version of the tax deal has another year of blender credit in it. No bill yet, though.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 10, 2010 7:10 PM    Report this comment

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