Drivers warned as E10 petrol could lead to ‘performance issues’

E10 biofuel: Department for Transport explains why it’s ‘better'

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Last week, the Government announced that Northern Ireland would see the introduction of E10 petrol at the beginning of November. The “greener” petrol is blended with up to 10 percent renewable ethanol and has already been available in England, Scotland and Wales since September 2021.

Its use across the UK could contribute to cutting transport CO2 emissions in the UK by potentially 750,000 tonnes a year.

This is the equivalent to a forest the size of the Isle of Wight capturing carbon every year.

E10 will replace E5 as the standard grade of petrol in Northern Ireland from November 1.

Trudy Harrison, the minister for the decarbonisation of transport, said it would be a “small switch” for drivers, but could have huge environmental benefits.

A small number of older vehicles, including classic cars and some from the early 2000s, will continue to need E5 fuel, the Government reported.

Supplies of E5 petrol will be maintained in the “super unleaded” petrol grade.

Dr Dan Clarke, global head of science and technology at SulNOx, has warned that drivers may be hit with “performance issues”.

Speaking to, he said: “Cars using the new ‘eco-friendly’ E10 petrol could be hit with performance issues, which could become worse as the weather gets colder.

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“In cold weather, condensation occurs when water vapour comes in contact with a hot surface. 

“This can happen in your fuel tank, as any space not filled up with fuel will be taken up by air containing water vapour.

“The main problem is that the additional bio-ethanol content in E10 prefers to mix with water as opposed to petrol and where there is sufficient of both, it leaves the petrol and combines with the water to form a separate layer at the bottom of the fuel tank. 

“The fuel line then draws from this watery alcohol mixture which is pumped directly into the engine. 

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“Equally, while petrol or diesel are very unlikely to freeze in the temperatures we typically experience in the UK, water condensation left in the empty fuel lines can easily freeze and prevent fuel from reaching your engine.”

According to estimates from the RAC, as many as 600,000 vehicles in the UK are not compatible with E10.

As a rule, drivers of cars registered prior to 2002 are advised not to use E10 in their vehicle, as problems have been reported. 

As of 2011, all new petrol cars sold in the UK must be compatible with E10 fuel.

For those who are unsure about the eligibility of their vehicle, they can check using a new online tool.

This will ask for information about the vehicle before checking a database highlighting the car’s compatibility.

Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Transport Fuel Association (RTFA), said the move was “very welcome”.

He added that most petrol cars on the road are optimised to run on E10.

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