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The Masthead

I

n light of recent movement toward the

allowance of E15 blended fuel, ABYC

and NMMA had the opportunity to test a

gasoline blended with isobutanol. What is

isobutanol? It is a naturally occurring

alcohol derived from the fermentation of

a biomass, corn for example. Comparing

it to ethanol, it is roughly 86% of the

BTU’s of gasoline, where ethanol is

roughly 68%. Unlike ethanol, isobutanol

will not phase separate, it will act as we

would like it to; water remains on the

bottom while the butanol/gasoline mix-

ture stays intact. The blend we tested

was 16.1% by volume.

The Test

Several lab-based evaluations of this fuel

had been and still are ongoing. What this

particular company (GEVO) was inter-

ested in was an evaluation of an in-use

situation. Dave Munz with GEVO provided

the fuel for the season’s testing and, with

the help of BRP and Volvo Penta, we were able to evaluate

its effects on three boats. A twin-engine jet boat, 175-hp,

two-stroke outboard, and a 3.0-liter stern drive. The test in-

volved exhaust-gas sampling and analysis with both isobu-

tanol and indolene, which is the test

fuel used to evaluate engine emissions

for the EPA.

In early June, the baseline tests were

completed. A sophisticated Marine Port-

able Sampling System (MPSS) devel-

oped by Jeff Wasil of BRP was used to

capture exhaust samples into contain-

ment bags, which were then driven to

Volvo Penta where ABYC Technical

Board member Rich Kolb analyzed the

exhaust properties. Following the June

testing, 40 hours were put on each of

the test boats to simulate a typical sea-

son’s use. In late September, the whole

process was repeated.

Additionally, we took the opportunity to

perform materials testing. Fuel hose,

primer bulbs, gaskets and even vintage

fiberglass tanks were tested for com-

patibility with this new fuel blend. Stan-

dard industry testing resulted in no

ABYC/NMMA Test Alternative Fuel

From left to right Rich Kolb, John Adey, John McKnight, Jeff Wasil. Not shown

Brian Goodwin

The MPSS – The sample was taken from a probe installed in the exhaust

stream.

Dec. 2014 Page 26