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The Effects of Ethanol

Carter Fuel Systems / Industry Trends, Ethanol

The use of ethanol in fuel has been on the rise since the 1980s, but it may have surprising effects on your fuel pump.

Most gasoline in the United States contains ethanol, which oxygenates the fuel and reduces air pollution. E10 is the most common ethanol and gasoline blend, but there are also E15 and E85 that can be found in cars on the road today. E10 is gasoline with 10% ethanol content, while E15 is gasoline with 15% content and so forth. E85 can be used in flexible fuel vehicles, which are designed to operate on any blend of gas and ethanol up to 85%.

However, E85 fuel has some significant issues associated with it. Corrosion, reduced lubricity and material breakdown are all common when this fuel is being used in vehicles that cannot properly accommodate it.

Non-85-compatible pumps may suffer premature brush and commutator wear, corrosion of commutator brush wires, swelling of non-metallic materials, and pumping section component wear.

To combat this wear, Carter fuel pumps use carbon material (versus copper material) for the commutator pads. This eliminates oxidation and high electrical erosion. The binder used to manufacture the carbon brush and commutators is also ethanol compatible.  Carter also nickel-plates the carbon brush wire strands.

In addition, ethanol-compatible materials prevent the swelling of non-metallic components.

To prevent corrosion of the commutator brush wires, Carter plates the copper brush strands with nickel.

Carter also adds wear prevention coating to pumping section components or utilizes alternate materials to minimize wear.

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