The cheapest gasoline in 2023 at the stations.  What is E10?  Can anyone refuel?

At the beginning of January, an amendment to the Biocomponents and Liquid Biofuels Law entered into force, which exempts gas station owners from the obligation to sell E5 gasoline, provided they supply E10 gasoline. In practice, the situation when a driver at a station has only one type of gasoline at his disposal – “new” – is probably rare. Instead, especially at large stations, there will be a choice: either regular or “new” gasoline, perhaps a little cheaper. It is also a dilemma: How is this fuel different? What do you choose?

Gasoline 95, but in different versions. What is going on?

The fuel label currently in effect at gas stations—aside from proper names like “Efecta” or “Verva” at Orlen stations or “miles” or “miles Plus” at Circle K stations—is: “E5” for gasoline and “B7” at diesel fuel condition. “E5” and “B7” are European markings, which indicate how many vital components are in the fuel by volume. E5 petrol contains a maximum of five percent of vital components (practically: alcohol), B7 diesel – a maximum of 7%. The new, which Polish drivers will soon have to deal with, is E10 petrol. As some of you may have already guessed, the maximum content of vital components in E10 gasoline is 10%.

New cars are clearly distinguished. and older?

Now look under your car’s fuel cap: if it’s a fairly recent petrol model, it probably has an “E5” badge on it, and maybe an “E10” badge as well. This means that the car’s engine is compatible with E5 and E10 fuels. E10 petrol can be purchased in Germany, France or Great Britain. If a person drives a car to Germany, he probably came across an E10 distributor, with which you can fill in gasoline 5-7 cents cheaper than an E5 distributor. At the same time, it’s easy to see that – at least in Germany – there are no queues for cheaper fuel, with a petrol market share of more than ten percent or so. On the one hand, drivers of older cars do not particularly know whether fuel with a greater mixture of vital components will not harm their car engines, on the other hand, drivers of younger cars do not see the point in refueling with E10.

Photo: Piotr Szypulski/Auto Świat

Marking under fuel filler flap: E10-compliant vehicle

The problem with older cars is that under the filler cap we will not find information about the maximum allowable ethanol content of gasoline that can be safely refueled. This doesn’t mean you can’t, but there is uncertainty.

Which gasoline do you choose? You will buy your E5…

When it comes to the “compatibility” of the fuel with an increased amount of vital components, it is assumed that E10 can be refueled in all cars manufactured for the European market from November 2010 onwards (German Automobile Club ADAC website) and in the vast majority of cars from 2000 onwards. The exceptions (relating to older cars) especially apply to the first engines with direct fuel injection, which, even without additional challenges, had a lot of problems.

As for the differences between E5 and E10 fuels, they only result from the lower or higher content of vital components. Ethanol has different properties from gasoline: its content in the fuel increases the octane number, but the calorific value of ethanol is lower than the calorific value of gasoline. In fuel systems not rated for E10, ethanol can adversely affect seals. Also, because alcohol is hygroscopic, it usually contains some water which can cause aluminum to oxidize in systems not rated for E10. Thus, a fuel with less vital components is better than one with more. That’s just … the differences – as claimed by proponents of a high content of vital components in the fuel – are negligible and of no practical significance for the car. However, the benefits are real.

Noticeable differences can be detected in practice if we carry old fuel in the tank for a very long time – for example in cars running on LPG. But these are exceptions.

ADAC: Avoid biased E10

The German Automobile Club ADAC is now encouraging German drivers to fill up on E10 fuel, which proves that:

  • The increase in consumption of E10 gasoline compared to E5 is minimal. ADAC reports an increase in fuel consumption of 1.5 percent – confirmed by dynamometer tests. after using E10 fuel instead of E5;

  • The decline in engine performance is practically immeasurable;

  • E5 and E10 fuels are miscible with each other in any proportions, that is, they can be refueled alternately;

  • The use of E10 has a positive effect on the environment: slightly reduces carbon dioxide emissions, and more – nitrogen oxides and particulate matter;

  • Car manufacturers don’t mind refueling with E10;

  • By refueling with E10 instead of E5, you can save.

According to the ADAC, 86 percent of drivers stubbornly fill up with E5 gasoline, ignoring E10, due to prejudice and unfounded fears. Another thing is that the savings from refueling at a German E10 gas station are not so great – they are only about 6 cents per liter. Thus, on a full tank of E10 we would only save about 3 euros, with the real savings being even lower due to a small (but always invariable) increase in fuel consumption.

Why ethanol in gasoline at all and is it worth the cheaper refueling?

It’s not that fuel added with alcohol is the best, but that ethanol – unlike petroleum – “grows in the fields.” Reducing gasoline imports by at least 1-2 percent. The resultant increase in the use of ethanol is tangible value, which is a decrease in dependence on oil imports. A certain benefit is also a slight reduction in the amount of harmful substances in the exhaust gases.

In Poland, the E10 can be expected to be 20-30 cheaper than the E5. Is it worth trying? Everyone has to answer this question for themselves.

curiousity: Among other things in Brazil, E85 petrol is commonly used, which is 85 percent. of ethanol and only about 15-20 percent. than regular gasoline. For this reason, the vehicles in this market have fuel systems adapted to this type of fuel (in Europe they are not taken, individual copies are the margin of the market) and are necessarily supplied with regular petrol. E85 is also becoming more popular in the USA.

However, the massive use of ethanol as fuel also has its critics, as it contributes to an increase in food prices.

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