More Ethanol Here Or On The Way

Brian Kenny


If you are one of many small aircraft users that buy automotive gasoline at the near-by gas station for use in your aircraft please note that gasoline with ethanol continues to proliferate. Be careful that you don’t get ethanol by mistake.

Since I last wrote an article on ethanol in automobile gasoline a number of the provinces and the federal government have joined Saskatchewan and Ontario in mandating the use of ethanol in gasoline. As a result most of the Vancouver and Winnipeg areas has ethanol in regular unleaded gasoline and some have it in all grades.

Starting this fall the Ottawa area will be converted to E10 regular. In Ontario and Quebec Petro-Canada stations with 94 octane at the pumps will have 10% ethanol in all the grades. In retail stations that don’t have 94 octane, the 91 at Petro-Canada stations will likely not have ethanol.

The only way to be sure at any station or any brand is to test the gasoline. This applies nearly everywhere in the country. That is not hard to do. Here is an easy test for determining the presence of alcohol in fuel.

  • In a small-diameter transparent cylinder, put approximately 10mL of water and clearly mark the level.
  • Add approximately 100mL of test fuel.
  • Shake vigorously, then let stand.
  • If, after settling, it is apparent that the water volume at the bottom has increased, alcohol is present.

In 2010 and into 2011, because of the Provincial and Federal Mandates more stations in the Edmonton area and in New Brunswick will start to have ethanol in the gasoline. More stations will be joining Petro- Canada in the Montreal area and the rest of Quebec.

So beware, just because it was okay before to use automobile gasoline, it might not be now or in the near future.

Brian Kenny is a fuel quality expert with a major oil company. He is responsible for automotive and aviation fuel specifications. He owns and operates both an amateur-built and a certified aircraft with an STC for automotive gasoline use.