Fuel ethers and biofuels

Bio-ethers enhance the properties of the ethanol used in their production in several ways. Bio-ethers:

  • Reduce the smog forming precursors (VOCs) emitted from cars (source: European Commission).
  • Contribute to less CO2 emissions across their life cycle than using ethanol directly: typically around 38%.
  • Deliver a better balance between the high-speed and low-speed octane number (MON and RON) that modern cars need.

Converting ethanol into bio-ethers removes barriers to its introduction into petrol. Fuel ethers remove the concern over the so-called “co-mingling” of different batches of fuel containing different levels of bio-ethanol. Low levels of bio-ethanol in petrol show non-linear volatility behaviour. If two batches of petrol containing different levels of bio-ethanol are mixed together then the resulting blend could have a higher than expected volatility. This could result in it going out of specification, which is a major concern, given the prevalence of shared storage in the European oil industry.

Bio-ethers are also compatible with the hardware used in the distribution systems and in older vehicles. It is worth remembering that the average age of a car in the EU is around 7 years old. Likewise, there is no need to dry the distribution system in order to prevent water being dissolved in the petrol.