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What to Know About Ethanol Blends and Small Engines

Some people are making claims that E10 fuel, a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, has led to rough-running, hard-to-start engines in lawnmowers and other outdoor equipment. If you are told this, ask for data supporting these claims.

Current equipment is built for the legal fuel limit which is currently E10. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is not anti-ethanol. Right now, however, OPEI is concerned about legacy equipment and its ability to handle mid level ethanol blends (E15, for example). Current equipment is neither designed, built or warrantied for mid-level blends, OPEI says.

OPEI anticipates sending a letter to the EPA and DOE with its interpretation of a recent DOE test study on the effect of mid level blends on outdoor power equipment. It also would urge both agencies to utilize the existing formal waiver process. The process will provide the necessary studies and data to fully understand effects of introducing new fuel types into the marketplace. The studies also will provide information necessary to educate consumers about the use of mid-level ethanol fuels on existing and future products.

To read OPEI’s study of the DOE testing report, visit

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