This content is not included in your SAE MOBILUS subscription, or you are not logged in.
The Development of Improved Fuel Specifications for Methanol (M85) and Ethanol (Ed85)
ISSN: 0148-7191, e-ISSN: 2688-3627
Published March 01, 1994 by SAE International in United States
Annotation ability available
Fuel alcohols, such as M85 (a blend of 85 percent by volume methanol with hydrocarbons) and Ed85 (a blend of 85 percent by volume denatured ethanol with hydrocarbons), are inherently involatile at low temperatures and may contain soluble or insoluble contaminants. We explored the adequacy of existing specifications for M85 and Ed85 by studying fuel effects on cold starting and vapor flammability, and fuel contaminant effects on materials compatibility and filter plugging. These studies demonstrated deficiencies in existing specifications. Therefore, we developed General Motors specifications for M85 and Ed85 to improve vehicle performance and durability. Key features include a Cold Starting Performance Index to improve wintertime starting, a conductivity and chloride ion specification to reduce corrosion, and a particulate contamination limit to reduce filter plugging.
As part of an agreement with the California Energy Commission, General Motors (GM) developed the Chevrolet Lumina Variable Fuel Vehicle (VFV) to operate on any mixture of methanol and gasoline up to M85 (85 percent by volume methanol). Subsequently, due to requests by the states of Wisconsin and Illinois and by the Federal Government, GM developed a version of the Lumina VFV to operate on ethanol-gasoline blends up to 85 percent by volume denatured ethanol (Ed85). (Ethanol is denatured by addition of hydrocarbons at a concentration of about 5 percent by volume.) Currently, GM has sold about 1700 methanol VFVs and about 400 ethanol VFVs. Most of the methanol VFVs are located in California and most of the ethanol VFVs are in the Midwest.
Fuel quality is of prime importance for acceptable performance and durability for VFV customers. Methanol and ethanol fuels are inherently lower in volatility than gasoline fuels and are easily contaminated during manufacture, storage, and distribution. As indicated in the DOE publication, “Fuel Alcohol Formulations” , the formulation and purity of methanol and ethanol fuel can affect vapor flammability, cold starting performance, and corrosion.
Results of our studies are presented to illustrate some deficiencies in existing ASTM and California Air Resources Board (CARB) specifications. Based on these studies, we developed GM's specifications for M85 and Ed85.
CitationBrinkman, N., Halsall, R., Jorgensen, S., and Kirwan, J., "The Development of Improved Fuel Specifications for Methanol (M85) and Ethanol (Ed85)," SAE Technical Paper 940764, 1994, https://doi.org/10.4271/940764.
SAE 1994 Transactions: Journal of Fuels and Lubricants
Number: V103-4; Published: 1995-09-01
Number: V103-4; Published: 1995-09-01
- “Fuel Alcohol Formulations,” U.S. Department of Energy Report DOE/CE/50181-H1 Swedish Motor Fuel Technology Company September 1988
- “Proposed Specification for Fuel Methanol (M85) for Automotive Spark-Ignition Engines,” ASTM D-2 Proposal P 232, Annual Book of ASTM Standards 05.03 1993
- “Specifications for Alternative Fuels for Motor Vehicles,” California Air Resources Board March 12 1992
- “Standard Specification for Denatured Fuel Ethanol for Blending with Gasolines for Use as Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel,” ASTM D 4806-92, Annual Book of ASTM Standards 05.03 1993
- Beckwith P.P. Denham M. Lang G.J. Palmer F.H. “The Effects of Hydrocarbon in Methanol Automotive Fuels,” VII International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels Paris, France October 1986
- Kirwan J. E. Brinkman N. D. “Fuel Methanol Composition Effects on Cold Starting,” SAE Paper No. 912416 October 1991
- Kirwan J.E. Brinkman N. D. “A Cold Starting Performance Index for Wintertime Fuel Methanol,” IX International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels November 1991
- Zabetakis M. G. “Flammability Characteristics of Combustible Gases and Vapors” Bulletin 627 US Bureau of Mines 1965
- Marshall W. F. Schoonveld G. A. “Vapor Space Flammability of Automobile Tanks Containing Low RVP Gasoline” SAE preprint 902096 October 1990
- Gordon D. J. Murin J. Cruice W. J. “Temperature Flammable Limits of Methanol Unleaded Gasoline Mixtures,” SAE paper 852107 October 1985
- Wing L. M. Evarts G. L. “Materials Selection for Gasoline/Methanol Blend Fuel Systems,” SAE Paper Number 930447 March 1993
- Jastrzebski Z. D. Nature and Property of Engineering Materials John Wiley & Sons 1959
- Ailor W. H. Handbook on Corrosion Testing and Evaluation John Wiley and Sons 1971 628
- Reising R. F. Walker M. S. “The Corrosion of Iron in Ethanolic Systems,” Corrosion , paper # 265 March 9-13 1987 Moscone Center San Francisco
- Metals Handbook Ninth 13 ASM International Metals Park Ohio
- Metals and Alloys in the Unified Numbering System 3rd Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc. & American Society for Testing and Materials 1983
- Wiens J. Cox E. Fanick E. R. Smith L. R. “Methanol Fuel Formulation Issues,” Tenth International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels Colorado Springs, Colorado November 1993
- Accurex Environmental Corp. “Methanol Fuel Station Survey - State of California,” California Energy Commission December 8 1992
- “Standard Specification for Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel,” ASTM D 4814-92c, Annual Book of ASTM Standards 05.03 1993
- Benson J. D. Burns V. Gorse R. A. Hochhauser A. Koehl W.J. Painter L.J. Reuter R. M. “Effects of Gasoline Sulfur Level on Mass Exhaust Emissions - Auto/Oil Air Quality Improvement Research Program,” SAE Paper No. 912323 1991
- Uhlig H. H. Revie R. W. Corrosion and Corrosion Control John Wiley and Sons 1985
- Castellan G. W. Physical Chemistry Addison-Wesley 2nd 1971
- Esch Deborah M. Potter Noel M. General Motors NAO R&D Center