How much ethanol is actually in E10? Is it really less?

Did you know that E5 fuel often contains no more than 5 percent ethanol, but usually no ethanol at all? This is great for cars that can’t handle things very well. But if E5 is ‘max 5 percent ethanol’, doesn’t E10 have ‘max 10 percent ethanol’? And maybe even less? We will find it for you.

The reason for the question is a video from a YouTube channel Car shenanigans. Someone in the United Kingdom tests E10 and concludes that Esso fuel contains only 2 percent ethanol, BP 5 percent and Shell only 6 percent. That’s crazy: why have laws if oil companies are allowed to decide how much ethanol they add?

How much ethanol is actually in E10?

Being the web editor that we are, we might have blindly copied the video and posted the findings with a title like “BREAK”. In a moment of complete bewilderment, we decided to dig a little deeper. It turns out: in the Netherlands you won’t easily come across E10, which contains only 2 percent ethanol. Here the percentage is higher.

E10 fuel in the Netherlands is required by law to contain at least 8.5 percent biofuel, a spokesperson for BP tells TopGear Netherlands. More specific: 7.5 percent ethanol and 1 percent another biofuel. When E10 is filled in the Netherlands, butyl contains between 7.5 and 10 percent ethanol.

Should petrol stations be obliged to fuel with ethanol?

A spokesperson for BP explains the rules in force in the Netherlands from October 2019: ‘Only filling stations that can only supply one type of petrol are free to supply E10 or another petrol (eg E5). As more gasoline types are offered, at least half of the number of refilling pistols should contain E10.’

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Ferdinand Woolridge

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