Ethanol stakeholders belie claims of adverse effects on car’s engine

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CONTRARY to earlier claims that the use of ethanol may result in adverse effects to a car’s engine, …

In an Ethanol Industry Stakeholders Meeting, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said the stakeholders and the DOE have agreed unanimously that there are clear guidelines or specifications issued by the DOE and the National Biofuels Board (NBB).

Reyes said there is a caveat in the guidelines that the use of a 10-percent ethanol-gasoline blend is only suited for vehicles with fuel injection systems.

“There was also a consensus that the corrosion is not caused by ethanol itself but by the containing or previous accumulation of water—which causes the corrosion in a car’s fuel system,” said Reyes.

He added that a vehicle could have been fed or contaminated with water but not ethanol, which resulted in the corrosion of the fuel system.

The ethanol locally produced by Leyte Agri Corp. and San Carlos Bioenergy Inc., according to Reyes, are above the minimum international standards of 99.3 percent at 99.8 percent pure.

Reyes said use of the 10-percent ethanol-gasoline blend is mandated by the Biofuels Act of 2006.

Arturo Cruz, Seaoil Philippines Inc. marketing director, said the earlier claims of Petron chairman Ramon Ang has “basically pulled back the program and have done disservice not only to the fuel itself but to the whole biofuels program.”

“I also would like to suggest to DOE—as the governing body—to come up with a statement to neutralize whatever damage, if there is, that has been parted to the motorists,” said Cruz.

Tetchie Capellan, executive director of the Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines, requested the DOE and the NBB to issue industry stakeholders the yearly projections of ethanol demand and supply.

She said the annual projections could have every stakeholder work together in meeting the targets of the law, which is basically 5-percent or even 10-percent blend for all the gasoline.

“The annual projections could guide ethanol producers and investors on how they can act accordingly based on the signals from the market as provided by the DOE,” said Capellan.

Ang earlier said Petron wrote the DOE saying that if it wants to proceed with the use of the 10-percent ethanol blend, then it should come up with the right specifications of ethanol to be blended with gasoline as (engine systems of some) cars could be damaged. He said there is a possibility for car engines to be damaged when ethanol is mixed with gasoline.

Ang pointed out that oil companies have yet to put in place a dehydrator that would remove the water content of ethanol.

“Without ethanol being dehydrated, it becomes highly corrosive, which could corrode a vehicle’s fuel system,” he added.

“In trying to replicate what other countries did, the Philippine legislators forgot to make the law right and include the need for oil companies to put in place a dehydrator that would remove ethanol’s water content. But the DOE is already looking into these and that discussions between oil companies and the energy department are ongoing,” Ang said.

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