Dealing with E-10 Ethanol Gasoline in a Marine Environment with StarTron

For the past few years E-10 Gasoline (10% of Ethanol) has been introduce in the Northeast. While the idea of Corn based fuel is exciting to the “Green” community, for many in the marine community E-10 fuel is a nightmare. StarTron is the only Product that I know of that makes the claim that it helps prevent Ethanol related problems with the E-10 Fuel and in some cases can reverse existing Ethanol problems. I have been using StarTron for 2 years religiously as preventive maintenance to protect from E-10 related issues. I have not had any problems in the past 2 years, while other around me have been hit by the Ethanol bug.

In Automotive applications, the fuel tanks are pressurized from the outside environment. As a result, the E-10 fuel remains stable. In a Marine environment, the fuel tanks are vented, thus exposed to outside environment. Simple things such as daily changes in the temperature create small amounts of condensation in the fuel tanks. Eventually over time enough condensation can be created which results in a chemical reaction with the E-10 fuel. Ethanol molecules are attracted to water, so any water in the fuel can result in the Ethanol molecules separating from the gasoline. This lowers the fuel Octane and creates a jelly-like substance at the bottom of the fuel tank that will clog your fuel filters, fuel lines, injectors and carburetors. This separating of Ethanol in the fuel is known as “Phase Separation”. For those who have experienced this, Phase Separation equates to Hundreds to Thousands of dollars in repairs, and not to mention, the lost time in your boating season.

I have 2 boats, a Formula One with Mercruiser 470 and a Bertram 30 with twin Crusader 454s. With the Mercruiser 470, I was hit with Ethanol Phase Separation. As result of this phase separation, I had to rebuild the Carburetor and replace the fuel pump at a cost of $500.00. Since that time, I have been using StarTron for both of my boats as preventative maintenance. My recommendation to anyone who has E-10 fuel in their boats is to use StarTron as preventive maintenance and protection against E-10 Phase Separation in your fuel. Whether you have a Yamaha Outboard, Mercury Outboard, an old Johnson or Evinrude, Inboard / Outboard or just a straight Inboard, it is my opinion that you are taking a huge risk if you don’t treat your fuel with StarTron. If you wish to buy Startron, you can click any of the Startron images in this article or just go to your local Marine supply store.
Aside from the E-10 issues, StarTron also alleviates the octane failing from absorbed water, by removing the water from the bulk fuel. It will still accumulate on tank bottoms. Fortunately, E-10 is self-curing for bulk water as long as there is no aftermarket detergent additive emulsifying the water. StarTron will also dissolve the varnish and gum sludge that forms when the ethanol water mix dislodges it from tanks sides and it will keep filters from plugging.

For boaters, preventative maintenance is more important than ever with E10. Keep tanks full to keep airspace down, and use Startron to prevent the fuel from deteriorating. Use water traps on all fuel lines, not just large boats. Replace all old hoses and gaskets, and never use aftermarket additives with synthetic detergents. Non-detergent additives, such as octane boosters or stabilizers, don’t appear to have any negative effects. I feel that StarTron is capable of handling all E-10 housekeeping and maintenance requirements.

The following is information I got off of the StarBrite web site which will give you more of an understanding of E-10 Fuel related issues and how StarTron is the answer.

ABOUT ETHANOL / E-10 GASOLINE

New Fuel Is Arriving at Pumps Across the Country
The sale of ethanol blended fuel, commonly referred to as E10 gas, is on the rise in the US as more states are mandating its use to help improve air quality. Also promoting the growth of E10 is the need to phase out the current additive MTBE which has been found to contaminate ground water supplies. E10 gas has been in use for many years and with smart fuel management boaters can learn to live with it.

The Side-Effects of Ethanol
The first problems encountered with transitioning to E10 is the loosening of sludge from the fuel tanks. Ethanol is a very effective solvent and it will attack varnish, gum, and resins: the sludge that can build up in fuel tanks. Once cleaned off the fuel tank walls this build up leads to poor performance and frequently clogged fuel filters and injectors. The enzymes in Star Tron® will safely break down and disperse this sludge. After a filter change or two the fuel tanks will be clean and boaters can move on the next, more serious, ethanol related issue…

Understanding Phase Separation
Ethanol has a great affinity for water, and will attract moisture from the atmosphere through the vented lines of a marine fuel tank. The water molecules form an electro-chemical bond with the ethanol that is stronger than the fuel’s original bond with the ethanol. Water is heavier then gas so the water/ethanol molecule is dragged to the bottom of the tank and separates from the more buoyant fuel molecules. This is referred to as phase separation and occurs when the water content in the fuel reaches roughly .5%. Ethanol provides a significant boost to the octane rating of the fuel, so when phase separation occurs you end up with a corrosive water/ethanol layer on the bottom of the tank, under what is now substandard fuel.

Preventing Water-Related Engine Damage
In a boat that is being used regularly, Star Tron® prevents most phase separation that occurs from daily condensation. By neutralizing the electrical charges between water

molecules in a process called de-ionization, Star Tron® prevents the water molecules from forming huge clusters, large enough to form drops, and settle, taking the ethanol with it. The octane rating and the combustion characteristics of the gas are protected, and the suspended water molecules are harmlessly burned along with the fuel. In order to understand this process, start by understanding that water does not exist in nature as its textbook single molecule, (H2O). Water consists of hundreds of water molecules bound together in huge “macro-clusters” which are much larger than a fuel molecule. Star Tron®’s enzymes break the electric bonding that holds these macro-clusters together, reducing the molecular size of the water cluster sufficiently to where microscopic amounts are suspended harmlessly in the gas.

Not All Additives Are Equal
A new breed of fuel additives has recently cropped up to capitalize on ethanol-blended fuel problems. These additives are known as emulsifiers. Ironically, some of them are made of ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, or one of the many alcohol cousins. Some emulsifying products will use chemicals such as “ethanolamides” (or anolamides), which are basically just common detergents.

Adding More Alcohol Isn’t The Solution
Alcohol has been used by boating consumers for years to “dry” out gas, but that was when gas was all gas. E10 already has a huge amount of alcohol in it, and adding more can cause operational problems and increase the water problem. Adding additional alcohol can also violate the EPA regulations on limits of oxygenates (alcohol) allowed in the fuel, as well as the ASTM fuel specifications. The EPA sets those limits to prevent damage to the engine. Today, all engine manufacturers have certified their new engines on a maximum of 10% ethanol. Any additive taking the fuel over 10% alcohol may void your warranty.

Why You Want to Avoid Emulsifiers
Before using a fuel additive, review the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by the manufacturer to determine if they contain any alcohols or other harmful waterbonding components. Adding more alcohol to E10 fuel is not the solution and in fact can compound the problems as emulsifiers have a long history of causing engine damage. These additives have the ability to absorb their own volume in water, thus allowing more macro water clusters to bond with the fuel. These “new” additives have been demonstrated via a neat sideshow trick in which water is added to gas in a test tube. The two fluids separate, and by adding the emulsifier and violently shaking the test tube, the water appears to vanish. In reality the water still exists. What emulsified water can do to an engine can be far worse than the original problem. Water, when sucked into an engine in volume, will shut it down. It must be cleaned, and the oil changed, but little else happens. Emulsified water/ethanol causes a more serious problem because instead of shutting down, the mixture can be partially combusted, but not effectively, which can damage the engine. Therefore, a mixture of water and ethanol is worse than just water. When emulsified water runs through an engine over a period of time, it causes excessive abrasion and wear, corrosion, and the emulsifier alone causes excessive carbon deposits, which cause wear on rings, pistons, and valves.


Water In The Engine Causes Many Problems

Emulsified water in the fuel can have several negative effects. Water displaces gasoline, which lubricates the fuel pump. Water pits and corrodes the plated metal surfaces causing premature wear on the fuel pump. Water reacts with various components in the fuel and forms acids, which corrode the fuel injector tips as well. Water/gas emulsions were tested by the SAE with ethanol, and they eat the plating off the pump’s internal moving surfaces. (SAE 2005-01-2196, Rovai, Tanaka, Sinatora)
Bonding Water To Gas Causes More Problems Than It Solves
This is just the effect the wetted fuel has. The real harm comes during combustion. The earliest reference to experiments with gasoline and water emulsifications (water chemically bonded to an oil is called an emulsification) we know of is 1913. Every few years since then, somebody thinks they have invented the solution to eliminate water from fuel by adding an emulsifying chemical to gasoline. General Motors conducted a lot of research back in the 1970s, and more attempts were conducted for a few years after that. Each time, the deleterious effects of water/gas emulsions outweighesd any benefits.

Thickened Fuel Can Void Warranties And Damage Engines
Water emulsions immediately increase the fuel’s viscosity. Even “micro-emulsions”, that look to be clear and stable as opposed to the milky look we generally associate with oil/water emulsions still thickens the fuel. Thickened fuel can destroy a fuel pump and fuel injector. The ASTM specifications for fuel viscosity are very tight, and thickening the fuel with water can take the fuel outside its specifications, which will void your warranty. How thick is thick? You can’t tell in the field by looking, unless the emulsification has turned to gel, which it can do if overdosed. A boater can not be expected to dose with an emulsifier, for a water level he can’t assess, and be certain his fuel is still in spec.
Emulsifiers Cause Excess Carbon Buildup
Because the emulsified water lowers the flame temperature in the combustion chamber the combustion efficiency is greatly reduced and the unburned hydrocarbons soar. This forms carbon deposits in the engine, especially on the piston crowns and on the spark plugs. Further, in the General Motors tests, (SAE 760547, Water-Gasoline Fuels, Their Effect on Spark Ignition Engines Emissions and Performance, Peters and Stebar) the deposit buildup was so rapid that the engine had to be disassembled for cleaning approximately every 20 hours. Additionally, they found shiny black deposits linked to the emulsifier. They noted the spark plugs were coated black and appeared wet. Drivability plummeted as well, and fuel economy suffers in a direct ratio to how much water is in the fuel. All effects were increased as the water level increases. GM abandoned their efforts with water in gasoline, as have many others over the years. They also noted in the GM study they never even bothered to investigate the lubricity issues or long-term engine durability, because the performance characteristics were so bad. Star Tron®’s various enzymes in fact de-emulsify water, which is exactly what you want for contaminated fuel. The advantage to removing water in microscopic amounts is that our enzyme technology is totally harmless to an engine and does not change the ASTM specifications for fuel. Star Tron® will not remove water from a glass jar but it will remove the water layer in an operational boat.

Star Tron: The Solution to Fuel Concerns
The real Star Tron® advantage goes beyond just how it eliminates water, or even how it cleans up sludge. Star Tron® is also a combustion catalyst, improving emissions, including reducing carbon monoxide, while it increases power and fuel economy. Star Tron® cleans out combustion chamber carbon deposits, reducing an engine’s octane demand and eliminating engine knock, as well as cleaning the entire fuel system. Star Tron® disperses bacteria, breaks down and safely disperses sludge, varnish, and gum, and outperforms conventional chemical-based gas stabilizers because Star Tron® not only prevents new fuel from aging (gasoline can be stabilized for one year), it can bring back stale fuel. And no product can compete with the cost effectiveness of Star Tron®.

The following is a White Paper I got from the StarBrite web site:

E-10 Ethanol Fuel Problems

STAR BRITE STAR TRON SOLVES FUEL PROBLEMS CAUSED BY NEW FORMULATED E-10 ETHANOL ENHANCED GASOLINE

The gasoline we buy for our boats and cars is in the process of a major reformulation. Ethanol, an alcohol derived primarily from corn, is both a domestically produced, and renewable fuel. E-10 (10% ethanol) has become a critical component of our fuel infrastructure, but it requires better housekeeping, especially in the boating industry. Ethanol is being phased into the fuel supply across the country.
The problem is all alcohols are hygroscopic. That means it likes water, and it attracts and couples with moisture in the air, resulting in greater amounts of water collecting in the fuel tank. Since water is heavier than gasoline, the water and ethanol mix settles to the bottom. This is referred to as “phase separation”, and eventually the water/ethanol phase is drawn into the fuel delivery system. If there is no water separator in the line, the water goes into the injector/carburetor and the engine does not run properly. In extreme cases, the engine will stop running. For automobiles, this is not a common problem in that an entire tank of fuel will most likely be used up within one week, well before a water/ethanol build up takes place. Also, automobiles have smaller gas tanks, leaving less air space for condensation to accumulate. Boats usually do not use up their fuel for many weeks, if not months, and their large gas tanks, when left low in fuel, readily form condensation. This presents a problem for most boaters.

An additional problem boaters will face is loss of octane, which is critical to an engine’s performance. Ethanol is over 100+ octane, and provides the fuel with much of its octane rating. Once water reaches about a .5% level, it will phase separate. With the ethanol drawn to the bottom along with the water, the fuel will lose octane, and this can cause a loss of performance, including pinging and engine knock, which can damage your engine. It also severely worsens fuel economy and power.
There are other problems with E-10 fuel. Ethanol is a powerful solvent and readily breaks up tars and organic sediment found in many marine fuel tanks. The ethanol/water mix also makes a potent stripping agent for old varnish and gum accumulated from years of gasoline sitting in the tank. These organic contaminants, once loosened from tank walls, can plug filters and injectors quickly, disabling your boat’s engine. In cold weather, the water/alcohol phase can also freeze, turning into a syrupy mix that plugs filters.

To assist boaters, Star Brite has introduced Star Tron, a revolutionary fuel additive based on enzyme technology that can prevent these water-related fuel problems. The enzyme package in Star Tron disperses water derived from normal condensation into microscopic clusters, and allows the water to pass through the fuel system and engine harmlessly, preventing the buildup on the tank bottom that can contribute to poor performance, fuel gelling and corrosion. This de-watering effect prevents potential phase separation. If large amounts of water are already present it will be de-emulsified and drop out of the body of the fuel, improving overall fuel performance. Over a period of time, with fresh gas loads treated with Star Tron, even large accumulations of water will be totally eliminated. Star Tron can also counter the effects of lost octane, greatly improving the combustion performance of E-10 fuel that has had water contamination. Star Tron can also prevent filter plugging from old gum and varnish. The enzymes help break down the dislodged sludge and other deposits into sub-micron-sized particles that usually pass through the fuel filter and are burned away as part of the combustion process. Tank deposits that would cause gelling are solubilized so that fuel flows uninterrupted through the filters.

What is StarTron
Product Description
Star Tron® is an amazing fuel treatment based on naturally occurring enzymes. Although this is a very unique application of enzyme technology, we encounter various enzymes in our everyday lives. For example, enzymes in laundry detergents break down dirt and stains so that they may be easily washed away, even in cold water. Enzymes in the human digestive system break down food into components that are easily used by the body to produce energy. Functioning as biocatalysts, enzymes increase and control the rate of chemical reactions. Star Tron® uses highly specialized enzymes to modify how gasoline and diesel fuel burns, the end result being more complete and uniform combustion. This same enzyme package, cleans the fuel delivery system and combustion chambers, stabilizes fuel chemistry and reduces engine emissions.

Increasing Power & Improving Fuel Economy, Reducing Emissions
Engines are not very efficient at burning all of the fuel that is fed into the cylinders. The result of this incomplete combustion is reduced power, production of harmful emissions and carbon formation. By changing the bonding structure of the hydrocarbon molecules that make up fuel, enzymes in Star Tron® allow more oxygen to attach to the fuel at the time of ignition, resulting in a more complete burn of the fuel charge. Star Tron® treated fuel therefore produces greater power, dramatically increases fuel economy and shows up to a 90% reduction in commonly encountered emissions. Carbon monoxide is reduced up to 40%. Diesel soot is now classified as a carcinogen and a toxic air contaminant. Enzyme modified diesel fuel can reduce soot by over one half in just a day and continued use can reduce soot by up to 80%.

Cleaning Injectors, The Fuel Delivery System & Combustion Chambers While Removing Carbon Build-Up
When more of the fuel charge is burned there is a dramatic drop in the formation of performance robbing carbon deposits. After several hours of operating with Star Tron® enhanced fuel, the engine’s concussive forces will blow all existing carbon off the pistons, completely cleaning the combustion chamber without the use of solvent-based carbon removing additives. As the enzymes in Star Tron® are naturally powerful surface-active agents, deposits are removed from the fuel tank, fuel lines, injectors, valves, pistons and spark plugs. Star Tron® accomplishes these cleaning tasks quickly and at the lowest per gallon cost of any product on the market. Once existing carbon deposits are removed and future deposit formation is prevented, knocking and pinging (pre-detonation) are eliminated. Engines develop full power while running smoother and quieter. An added benefit of a deposit free combustion chamber is that fuel burns at a properly controlled rate, helping to greatly boost fuel economy.

Microbial Growth In Fuel
When gasoline or diesel fuel sits in a tank with excessive air space, the daily temperature changes produce condensation (water formation) on tank walls. This water falls into the fuel where it sinks to the bottom providing a breeding ground for microbial spores that feed on hydrocarbon fuels. Known as “diesel algae” these are primarily fungi, yeast and mold contaminants. If left untreated, diesel algae will ruin the fuel causing clogs in filters, fuel lines and injectors. Common treatment for this problem up until now has been the use of a biocide to kill existing growth and prevent a future infestation. The use of a biocide can however cause other problems. Once the growth is killed, the resulting biomass settles to the tank bottom where it decays forming organic acids. The acids then deteriorate the fuel and cause corrosion of the tank walls, injectors and fuel delivery system. Additionally, biocides can be harmful to all those who handle them or come in contact with treated fuel, plus they can cause environmental damage if spilled. Star Tron® uses its enzyme technology to disperse microbial growth throughout the fuel. These microbial particles are then either safely burned away or filtered out.

Treating Water In Fuel
As mentioned before, water can wind up in your gas or diesel fuel as a result of condensation in the tank. Because water is heavier than fuel, it sinks to the bottom of the tank and forms a distinct water layer. The fuel pick-up tube is located at the bottom of the tank so, once this happens, water is supplied to your fuel pump. Obviously the engine can not burn water; soon it starts to sputter and eventually stops running. Additionally, water is corrosive so it deteriorates tank walls and metals in the fuel delivery system. The enzymes in Star Tron® prevent the water molecules that are in fuel from combining and forming a distinct water layer. Water is reduced to sub-micron size particles that cannot cause corrosion and are safely burned during normal combustion.

Ethanol-Enhanced Gasoline
The emissions-reducing additive MTBE that has been put into gasoline for years was found to contaminate water supplies. As a result, MTBE is being eliminated throughout the U.S. and replaced by up to 10% ethanol. When used up quickly, ethanol-enhanced gas does not present difficulties for users. In boats and RVs that tend to use up fuel less frequently however, the new ethanol gas does in fact create problems. Ethanol has a great affinity for water and as a result, this new formulated fuel can cause a water layer to form and gelling to occur. Additionally, ethanol is an excellent solvent that can attack sludge buildup in fuel tanks and cause fuel filters to clog frequently. Star brite Star Tron® can prevent these problems from occurring and can also reverse the problems if they already exist.

Stabilizing Fuel Chemistry
Diesel fuel and gasoline are not formulated to be stored for more than 90 days. After this period of time, they begin to oxidize, forming sludge, varnish, gum and other harmful deposits. The ability of the fuel to burn properly is diminished as chemical components start to break down. Star Tron® uses its enzyme technology to maintain fuel quality and prevent the deterioration of fuel components. Diesel fuel treated with Star Tron® has a shelf life in excess of two years. Gasoline, which tends to evaporate volatile components more quickly than diesel, remains stable for one year. Once hydrocarbon fuels deteriorate, the process of cleaning and rejuvenating them is extremely expensive. Enzymes contained in Star Tron® can in fact “repair” old fuel, restoring cetane and octane ratings, dispersing water and breaking down sludge and other deposits. Star Tron®’s enzyme formula may well be the most cost effective fuel remediation technology in the world.

After being a user of StarTron for more than 2 years, I’m a believer !! With the price of Gasoline these days and the cost of repairs, the few dollars spent on StarTron is well worth the investment. If you would like to purchase StarTron, you can find it in any marine store or if you wish, click on any of the Startron images in the article and it will take you directly to a vendor on Amazon.com that will ship it direct to your home.

The StarTron’s previous life:

Star brite officials say Star Tron has been marketed to industrial and commercial users for about 10 years by Solpower (www.solpower.com ), as Soltron and XBee. Solpower says it “has conducted many ‘industry-standard’ empirical studies on the performance and environmental safety of Soltron Enzyme Fuel Treatment (XBee and Star Tron) in laboratories around the world.” However, it also says some Soltron claims do not have a standardized fuel-lab testing protocol that “accurately duplicates real-world application of the enzyme technology.” The claims of removing sludge and dispersing bacteria are based on fuel modification analysis or field studies of customer experience and opinion, it says.


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3 Responses to Dealing with E-10 Ethanol Gasoline in a Marine Environment with StarTron

  1. Wow. This is some great info on E-10 for your boats. I will make sure to follow these tips when I take my boat out this summer.

  2. Pingback: By using StarTron Fuel Additive you can keep Ethanol Phase Separation at Bay, so your boat can leave the Harbor..

  3. Rusty Waples says:

    Gumout has a fuel stabilizer that fights the bad effects of ethanol/gasoline. It works in marine environements too. They also have a flex fuel fuel injector cleaner that works in gasoline motors/engines that use gasoline with ethanol (10%-85%/e10 e85). It doesn’t state that it is for marine application, but would imagine it would be ok. Niether product has alcohol in their formula.

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