Kettering University in Flint, Michigan is one of several that have been tapped by the Department of Energy (DOE) to study the impact of higher ethanol blends on older vehicles.
The use of up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline for 2007 model year vehicles or newer has been approved by the federal government, while the use of E15 in model year 2001-2006 vehicles is still being evaluated. The research at Kettering will look at vehicles older than 2000 model year, for which the use of higher ethanol blends has been denied by the EPA.
The $125,000 grant marks the second time Kettering mechanical engineering professors have studied the impact of ethanol on older vehicle engines. Kettering professors Craig Hoff andGregory Davis did a study last year that looked at how ten percent ethanol blends may impact classic cars from as far back as the 1940s. In that study, which included 1,500 hours of testing, the researchers concluded that “it’s safe to assume that you can continue to drive your collector vehicle using E10; it may just cost you more in the long run” because of additional costs associated with sealing fuel tanks and cleaning and rebuilding fuel systems more frequently.