Is the E10, the new “green gasoline”, suitable for your car?


As of today, the standard grade of gasoline in Great Britain is E10, indicating up to 10 percent bioethanol content. Prior to September 1, regular gasoline was E5, although the E10 has been on sale for some time in the UK and more specifically in Europe. Premium unleaded gasoline (with an octane rating of 97+) will remain E5, while the change will not happen in Northern Ireland until early 2022. Diesel fuel will not change either. All gas stations will sell E10 bioethanol, but what effect will this have on your car?

Almost all gasoline vehicles (95%) on the road today can use E10 gasoline and all cars built since 2011 are compatible. But initial interest in the new fuel focused on AA’s claims that, due to the reduced efficiency of E10 gasoline, drivers’ fuel costs will increase by around 1.6%. .

Ethanol (or ethyl alcohol) is essentially the same type of alcohol you might drink from a cocktail glass with a hint of Noilly Prat and an olive – not what we would recommend, as the automotive ethanol is around 200 proof. Bioethanol is distilled from plant materials, most often corn or sugar cane, although cellulosic ethanol distilled from plant fibers and wood (cellulose) is considered a more environmental alternative.

You can check your car’s compatibility with E10 fuel on the government’s online checker.

What is E10 gasoline?

The E10 label indicates a regular unleaded fuel that contains up to 10 percent bioethanol of plant origin. This “green” proportion has already been used in pump fuel in the UK at concentrations of up to five percent (marked E5). The government says the pumps will be clearly labeled.

Cars produced after 2011 can use this fuel without having to modify the engine. Older cars, including classics, may need to be adapted (see below).

Diesel fuel currently has a ratio of bioethanol; it is labeled B7, indicating up to seven percent organic content, but does not change with switching to E10 gasoline.

What does this mean for drivers?

The move is part of the UK government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), which requires 12.4% of road transport energy to come from renewable sources by 2032. Large-scale fuel suppliers are required to ” achieve these goals and show what percentage of their fuel comes from renewable and sustainable sources.

Interestingly, the government’s own impact assessment report * stated that “there are no clear advantages for the consumer to choose E10 fuel” and also states that the RTFO targets until 2032 could be achieved without the introduction of E10.

Nonetheless, adding bioethanol to gasoline saves the release of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, when burning fossil fuels, although the exact amount it saves is at the origin of certain debates. In 2019, the UK government’s own figures claim that the 1,400 million liters of fuel equivalent saved around 82% of CO2, but that figure drops to 78% when indirect land-use change is taken. into account.

In theory, E10 fuel should have been introduced around 2011 when the new European standard was set, but in typical style Britain has dragged its feet. In 2014, the government was talking in earnest, but once again a combination of reluctance from interested agencies and poor labeling of pumps ended the plan.


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