• Welcome to SVTPerformance!

Converting to E85?

Discussion in 'The Distillery' started by REX-RACER, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. REX-RACER

    REX-RACER Testing w/ the live data! Established Member

    Messages:
    3,670
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    H-town by way of STL
    I know some of us have kicked around the benefits of the 100+ octane rating of E85. Recently a station a few blocks from where I live just started offering E85 and since I'm considering a 125+ N2O shot in the future I'm wondering how difficult/expensive it would be to make these cars E85 compatible?

    I'm not really worried about the decreased fuel mileage associated w/ E85 b/c the Cobra is mostly a weekend/garage queen. I would also definitely have a tune done w/ my XCal2 to optimize for the E85 as well as the N2O.

    Has anyone considered this or know of a possible parts list?
     
  2. kxt

    kxt atomic number 30 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,293
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Location:
    NC
    the former owner of the yellow mustang registry, steve did this conversion. Search through that site to find more info.

    It shouldn't be many parts at all. The custom tune may be the biggest deal.
     
  3. Torch10th

    Torch10th I make hits Established Member

    Messages:
    7,408
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Evans, Colorado
    The entire fuel system will need to be replaced. You're basically seting up the car up to run on alcohol. This means all your hard and soft lines as well as the plastic fuel injectors need to be replaced.

    second, the gravity of E85 is significantly different then petroleum based gasoline. Where 14:1 is stoich with gasoline, you're looking at closer to 8-9:1 effective stoich for E85. You'll have to tune for this.

    Given the costs involved with replacing the fuel system, tuning the computer and probably a host of small items I'm not even thinking about, but always present themselves, it's probably more cost effective to purchase a drum of race fuel.
     
  4. 01 Venom

    01 Venom New Member Established Member

    Messages:
    3,102
    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    I agree with Torch, very involved to do that
    Just get some race gas if thats what you need
     
  5. REX-RACER

    REX-RACER Testing w/ the live data! Established Member

    Messages:
    3,670
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    H-town by way of STL
    KXT, thanx for that info, that looks like it may have provided exactly what I need!

    It looks like the guy on YMR did the conversion and it wasn't even that bad. He has a site dedicated to E85 Mustangs actually www.e85mustangs.com.

    He even lists his set up which seems not complicated at all:

    Not to quible w/ you Torch 'cause I know you're usually on your game, but it looks like this may not be as big of hassle as you percieve. I had actually read some other place that becuase of the Brazil initiative of using alcohol enriched fuels a lot of auto manufacturers had simply made the fuel systems of most 99+ E85 compliant in order to amoratize costs and in anticipation of when E85 would be in wider use especially in Norht America. If you think about it, many of us already live in cities where 10% ethanol ( E10 ) is the rule in all grades at the pump and we have no problems at all.

    It actually looks like the biggest piece of this may be in the tuning. Since I was already planning on a tune anyways that may not be such major hurdle after all.

    I'm definitely going to do some more research on this and let you all know what I find . . . :pepper:
     
  6. 01vert

    01vert Active Member Established Member

    Messages:
    1,218
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2004
    Location:
    MA
    Look at all the FFV taurus' and focus' running around. these will run on ethanol I believe. Ford has had most of the rubber parts changed to be alcohol resistant for quite a while. I remember reading about this because of the 10% alco fuel that is sold in many places including Massachusetts.

    Not sure when they started the alco resistant stuff but I have always been interested in this too just to see how it is done. Thanks for the links
     
  7. REX-RACER

    REX-RACER Testing w/ the live data! Established Member

    Messages:
    3,670
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    H-town by way of STL
    More interesting info, apparentl this guy on Coral converted his '89 5.0 to run E85 + N20. Peep what he says about the fuel system:

    Source thread: http://www.corral.net/forums/showthread.php?t=826071

    Some very interesting reading right there!
     
  8. 01 Venom

    01 Venom New Member Established Member

    Messages:
    3,102
    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    hmmm thats pretty neat
     
  9. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer 4cams aren't better then1 Established Member

    Messages:
    11,540
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    jersey
    I would be very hesitant to do this. Just because someone has been running with the stock pumps, and lines for a while doesn't mean the alcohol won't eventually eat through the soft parts of the fuel system.

    A 5lb drum of torco is 185 bux. If you run 32oz per tank (makes about 97 octane, which is plenty), you can get 5,000 miles out of one drum. It would only add a bit over 50 cents to the price of each gallon
     
  10. Torch10th

    Torch10th I make hits Established Member

    Messages:
    7,408
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Evans, Colorado
    Precisely.

    Fuel systems only have to worry about 10% ethanol. The fuel system may be fine for a little while, but my fear is that eventually the alcohol would corrode through both the hard and soft lines of the fuel system.
     
  11. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer 4cams aren't better then1 Established Member

    Messages:
    11,540
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    jersey
    not to mention that you'd have to upgrade the pumps and injectors because ethanol requires such a fuel heavy mixture. It would be like having to run a 400hp fuel system on a 300hp car.
     
  12. anothersvtguy

    anothersvtguy Turner of Wrenches Established Member

    Messages:
    932
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    why

    Why would you want to?
     
  13. whizdumb81

    whizdumb81 RealEyesRealizeRealLies Established Member

    Messages:
    183
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Location:
    NJ
    I'm kinda with svtguy on this one... It seems like a hassel for a marginal gain in HP. Not to mention the loss of economy (maybe just cuz i drive my cobra alot) I would wait till they increase the technology of ethanol fuels and start to make it outta the different materials that they are talking about...Maybe then i'd switch over... Also it's not available everywhere so if you can't make it to that particualr gas station to get your ethanol, then you will be running regular gas on your engine setup for ethanol (that just seems like a tuning dillemma to me) So if you do the conversion then cool; but i for one will be waiting till the future for a move like that. however do keep us posted on the developments and how you go about the switch.
     
  14. REX-RACER

    REX-RACER Testing w/ the live data! Established Member

    Messages:
    3,670
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    H-town by way of STL
    The ambient octane of E85 averages about 105 but the price at the pump when I passed there yesterday was $2.68/gal vs 2.97 for Premium 93 in my area ( that E10 93 at that ). So even taking quad & Torch's argument if you add .50c/gal to price of 93 I'd be still paying approx. .80c/gal more than something I could get straigh out of the pump at this same station. Also by comparison the VP Fuels 110 that's available locally ( well sort of, the place almost 30 miles from where I live actually ) runs approx $7.50/gal!

    I know someone will say that the cost is probably off-set by the decrease in fuel economy but a modified Mustang Cobra w/ a 125+ N2O shot & 4.30 gears is not something I use for economical travel. To me this would just be another performance mod to do on the car so if you think about it like that, none of them are really economical but that isn't why we do this anyways.

    Quad mentioned having to upgrade to 30# injectors and that was something I was already considering along w/ upgrading the fuel pump either to an Aviator or GT pump just to give some head room b/c I eventually want to run a 150 shot and see if I can get to 500hp at the wheels. That's kind of a lofty goal I know which is why I was thinking of the performance advantages & detonation protection I can get out of higher octane E85 readily available right down the street at a better price than I can get 93!

    At this point it's a research project but I appreciate everyone's feedback! :beer:
     
  15. REX-RACER

    REX-RACER Testing w/ the live data! Established Member

    Messages:
    3,670
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    H-town by way of STL
    Yeah, the tunning I think is going to be the big thing. I already have an XCal2 which I think should give me the ability to get two tunes done. One for the E85 and one for regular 93. People around here do this all the time, they might have a 93 octane "street tune" and then a high octane "race tune" for the weekend night at the strip. Some people do it w/ a flip chip, I have an XCal2 already so that's no additional cost.

    The Cobra is really a weekend car that I might occassionally drive to work but since the E85 station is right down the street from me, like 10 mins away, I don't see it as being a problem. But even If I couldn't get there, w/ the XCal2 I can just flip the tune back to 93 and be on my way. Once the hard componentry is upgraded that part shouldn't be an issue.

    Thanx for the feedback and keep it coming, I'm just gathering info right now.
     
  16. whizdumb81

    whizdumb81 RealEyesRealizeRealLies Established Member

    Messages:
    183
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Location:
    NJ
    Yes the flip chip or the multi-tune idea is great... But (maybe because i over analyze things) what happens when you mix the regular gas with an e85 mixture and wind up with a like half and half mixture? Which is bound to happen unless you run the tank down to the bitter end everytime. I guess im thinking too much but in the pursuit of knowledge one must be a devils advocate to raise questions that need answers.. Anyway i would love to one day change my car over because i am a fan of the regrowable fuel idea.. so if we can all figure out how to properly do this on a performance car before e85 becomes more widespread than thats great... Also maybe someone will design a duel tank system for cars that want to run different fuels at different times. e85 at the track and regular fuel on the road but i don't know the practicality of that... My head hurts from thinking about this too much but i hope that whatever you decide to do it works out for you.

    Also i would like to find out how the long term use of e85 (which burns hotter) will affect our aluminum blocks, piston, gap rings, valve seats and overall distortion. I would take an educated guess to say that if you plan to run that kind of fuel you should upgrade your cooling system or deffinately run like a water wetter mixture in your radiator...

    I almost feel like this should become a sticky because it will probably contain a lot of answers to discussion questions that may affect us in the future.
     
  17. REX-RACER

    REX-RACER Testing w/ the live data! Established Member

    Messages:
    3,670
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    H-town by way of STL
    More interesting info!!!

    These are some really good points you raise here especially about the extra heat and the possible tuning problems that may arise from having to "mix" E85 w/ standard unleaded gasoline. I did some more e-research last night and learned some more interesting stuff!

    First, the heat issue is definitely a concern. Some people may have heard that the Indy Racing League - IRL - moved to fuel grade Ethanol this year from their traditional Methanol fuel. The IRL is of course using "the good stuff" which is actually a 98% ethanol/2% unleaded gasoline blend and this is apparently due solely to the fact the 100% ethanol would be considered a consumable beverage subject to Federal liquour taxes by the ATF. Subsequently they have to add a bit of gasoline to the alocohol so people won't drink it all willy-nilly in much the same way sulfur is added to the industrial N2O so people won't go home and snort the stuff in their garage!

    At any rate, the IRL engineers found that the ethanol/E98 actually ran about 30% hotter than the methanol previously used. This actually presented the biggest obstacles on the road courses where the cars experienced lots of low speed turns and subsequently there was less air moving over the radiators for cooling purposes. This problem was adressed by a moderate reworking of the cooling hardware.

    Source article linkage: http://www.fastmachines.com/archives/irl/004215.php

    It seems like to me this could be the same type of problem encountered in "stop-&-go" traffic in a street driven car but it could possibly be adressed by running a colder 160* thermostat and also adjusting the cooling fans to turn on at a lower temperature than the stock tuning. A relatively easy fix perhaps but obviously something that would have to be evaluated in real world conditions like summer heat!

    The other good question and obvious tuning concern would be dealing w/ the eventuality of partial fuel mixtures. For my own purposes I'm inclined to say that I'll just try as much as possible to run either a full tank of E85 or standard gasoline and eliminate the guess work of trying to come up w/ some sort of "comprimise tune". It's my impression that one of the reasons E85 Flex Fuel Vehicles are currently getting a bad rap is becuase factory stock vehicles don't come w/ "flip chips" or flash tuners to alternate between optimized tunes for different circumstances ( oh how we wish they would though ). Subsequently the auto engineers who work on mass-produced vehicles that are supposed to be FFV capable are forced to come up w/ compromise tunning strategies that can handle all of the likely eventualities of varying mixtures of E85 & conventional gasoline.

    And ya know what they say about the fine art of compromise, it typically leaves noone particularly satisfied. You'll generally end up w/ some middle of the road crap that's optimized for nothing in particular. I've done some reading on some of the full-size/half-ton pick-up truck boards and a number of people I have seen have reported "loss of power" and "cold starting" problems when switching back and forth between the various types of fuels frequently. This apparently has prompted many of the manufacturers to recomend even in the owners manual picking a particular fuel style and sticking w/ it such that the ECU addaptation can calibrate itself properly. Apparently GM's owners manual even state that it may take "two or more" fuel tankfuls of E85 to get the appropriate performance and milage. Since I will be in the market for a new truck in the next two years, this has pretty much convinced me that one of the first things I will be doing is buying a flash tuner that holds multiple tunes and disposing w/ the factory tune ASAP!

    Some other interesting things I learned in my searching:

    The guy from YMS was nice enough to actually provide a tuning tips page on his www.e85mustang.com page. Obviously he recomends consigning the services of a knowledgeable and experienced dyno tuner if someone is going to endeavor to optimize an E85 tune for performance purposes. Interestingly enough thoug, in the last paragraph he actually confirms my idea on using the XCal2 multiple tune strategy:

    Source linkage: http://www.e85mustangs.com/tuning.html

    The last thing I found of particular interest in my research last night was this indication of vehicle VIN codes that apparently already E85 capable:
    http://www.ve85.com/FlexibleFuelVehicles/FFVIdentification/

    Check the Vehicle Identification Numbers below to see if your vehicle is VE85 compatible:

    Ford Motor Company
    Vehicle Characters 2-3 Characters 8
    Taurus FA 2
    Mercury Sable ME 2
    Ranger FT V
    Explorer FM K
    Mercury Mountaineer M2 K


    Soooo, I took a little stroll out to my garage to examine the VIN on my Cobra and found something interesting, yet puzzling . . . characters 2-3 = FA & character 8 = V!

    What does that mean?

    Uhm . . . I'm not really sure? :??:

    If I had to hazzard a happy guess I'd say that possibly this is an indication that parts of the fuel system and engine are hardned for E85 usage but since the Cobra is a relatively low production vehicle perhaps no specific designation for them was made in terms of the parts that these VIN codes designate. In other words, it would be helpful to know what positions 2-3 & 8 are actually designated for such as fuel delivery system ( pump, lines, injectors, etc. ) and internal engine components ( valve seats ). It's a possibility that the a good chunck of the componentry such as the fuel pump, fuel lines, injectors, etc. ended up on other vehicles from the same modle year that were actually designated FFV and therefore by default are E85 hardebed on the Cobra as well?

    I don't know about this last part, but it's something to ponder at least and try to research.

    So there you have it, more research to come and info to come hopefully! :D
     
  18. Torch10th

    Torch10th I make hits Established Member

    Messages:
    7,408
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Evans, Colorado
    it probably has very little if anything to do with that in all honesty.

    Now if they had those items listed under the mustang, then sure I could see it. But as it stands by your reading, if your vehicle was a Ford Tauranger then you'd probably be good to go with the fuel system.
     
  19. REX-RACER

    REX-RACER Testing w/ the live data! Established Member

    Messages:
    3,670
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    H-town by way of STL
    I hear what you're saying Torch which is why I'm not inclined to jump to any conclusions. I guess what I'd like to do now is three things:

    1). See if I can find some type of VIN decoder and possibly figure out the true relevance of the characters and positions noted above.

    2). Try to figure which parts of the fuel system may already be E85 tollerant and what may need to be replaced and what replacement parts are workable.

    3). Since the guy from YMR & his tuner have already done the heavy lifting on the tuning, I'll try to get in touch w/ them and see if they are interested in mail ordering tune files or at least giving some pointers.


    I still have a suspiscion that this may not be as involved in terms of the hard parts as initially suspected. If that's true and it only requires things like a fuel pump and/or injector upgrade ( remember the YMR guy is running the stock dual '03 Cobra pumps ), this could become a viable high octane/high boost option for all of us!

    Any help folks want to lend is greatly appreciated!
     
  20. stylin99

    stylin99 Member Established Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2001
    Location:
    Gastonia, NC
    Hello guys. This is a great topic. One that I'm intimately familiar with as I'm the yellow '99 GT that converted last august to E85 fuel.

    There is a great deal of misinformation posted in internet forums, not excluding this one regarding the details of this fuel.

    MythBuster correction#1: CORROSION
    Post-1988 cars have materials designed to withstand the 10-20% ethanol content that the gov't expected would occur. Gov't mandates required vehicles to be compatible with E10. Although not officially designed for E85, any components not found compatible with ethanol, were likely removed entirely (rubber, bare aluminum, etc)

    Mythbuster correction#2: HEAT
    The relationship to Indy cars mentioned above is misleading. Note the Indy guys say Ethanol burns hotter than METHANOL. Key word there is hotter than methanol not hotter than gasoline. Due to the extra volume of fuel in the cylinder, and the characteristics of E85, it actually burns COOLER than GASOLINE (remember they burn E100 not E85). It's all in what you're comparing it to.

    Overall, so far, I have no complaints of vehicles converted to E85 that have experienced corrosion of fuel components.

    One of the other risks with the engine internals, is only under the presence of water, and only during cold start ups. If water is present during a cold startup, Formic Acid can form, which can deteriorate the piston. For this, OEM coats the piston tops on FFVs with a special coating. It's rare, but is supposedly possible if you get a bad batch of fuel.
     

Share This Page