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Investigating E85 (FlexFuel) conversions


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For the last month or so I have been investigating what needs to be done to convert a 2.5L i4 or 4.0L i6 Jeep to run on high ethanol fuels such as E85 in summer and E70 in winter. My assumption being that the ethanol blend of petrol in the UK will increase in the next few years. The tech stuff I have found will follow later.

 

However, it is interesting that in France E85 is commonly available and the retail price per litre is roughly half the cost of petrol. Sadly, the French government (like the British with LPG) has now insisted that only authorised technicians can retrofit the Fuel Injection module to compatible cars. On eBay the DIY modules cost less than 180 Euros. They plug into the fuel injectors directly, tapping the circuit to allow the module to launch it's own 'man-in-the-middle-attack' on the injector pulses. The module also has a temperature sensor that must be clamped to the outside of the engine block. The module recalibrates the fuel injection on the fly to work with E85. The French however, are not bothering to convert their cars as the cost charged by the authorised technicians is between 900 and 2000 Euros.

 

About 15 years ago, E85 was available in East Anglia (no idea if it still is). Morrisons in Norwich was the site of the first E85 retail pump but the fuel was only 2p per litre cheaper than unleaded petrol. Clearly the British government were at fault here by not reducing the ridiculous 80% tax on transport fuel. How different things would be now if E85 was 40p a litre in 2006 and increasing to around 65p by 2021.

 

So, my opinion based on the French situation is that E85 is dead in the EU. If governments are able to dissuade adoption by forcing unrealistic conversion rules or high taxes on the fuel, E85 is not going to gain traction with the average motorist. I guess the politicians have too much of their own personal money invested in the future of electric cars.

 

For me, converting my 4.0L Jeep engine to run on E85 is better than converting to LPG because I don't need to lose space for another fuel tank. A plastic tank compatible for E85 can also be used for regular unleaded petrol.

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