Filling up with ethanol comes with risks, says expert
Wilson's says their gas contains up to 10% ethanol
One fuel company in Nova Scotia is now selling gas with ethanol in it and while it might be cheaper, experts say pumping it into some small-engine equipment comes with risks.
Wilson's has new signs on some of its gas pumps informing customers that gas may contain up to 10 per cent ethanol.
Ethanol is a clear alcohol — made of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon — mostly produced from the fermentation of plant-derived matter, mainly sugars and starches.
"It'll be cheaper per litre. They may be able to use it as a marketing tool to entice people to buy the fuel because it may be two or three cents cheaper a litre," said automotive consultant Doug Bethune.
Wilson's has increased their discount on gas purchased with cash or debit, from two cents off per litre to 3.5 cents.
Blending ethanol into gasoline raises fuel consumption by two per cent, according to the federal government.
Natural Resources Canada said ethanol-blended gasoline contains only 97 per cent of the energy of pure gasoline, but this is somewhat offset by the improved combustion efficiency of the blend.
Bethune said ethanol can reduce fuel economy by two to seven per cent.
"Never ever use ethanol fuel in any small engine. You can destroy your equipment. The warnings are out there."
Dave Giddens, sale manager at Full Throttle Sports, said he hasn't had any customers with ethanol problems yet but he expects they'll surface.
"Whenever I sell one of these chain saws, lawn movers, anything with a small engine, I always recommend supreme fuel instead of regular fuel because of the risk of ethanol in gasoline," he said.
Ethanol is usually not present in premium gasoline and while the fuel additive is common in New Brunswick, it's new in Nova Scotia.