BRP (parent company of Evinrude) has begun a program to test butanol-extended fuel in a variety of recreational marine engines for Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. Butanol-extended fuel will be tested as an alternative to gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a waiver allowing up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline. According to industry test data published last October, E15 can cause significant damage to marine engines. A 2011 alternative fuel study executed by BRP, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) concluded that isobutanol was a promising alternative fuel in marine engines.
“Gasoline with 10 percent ethanol (E10) is still an acceptable fuel for marine engines, including BRP's Evinrude outboard engines, but isobutanol, which has a higher energy content than ethanol, could be a viable alternative to E15,” said Jeff R. Wasil, an engineering technical expert at BRP. “Isobutanol represents a unique opportunity for BRP, and the entire marine industry, to be at the forefront of innovation in alternative fuels.”
With oversight from Argonne and the Department of Energy, the project calls for many types of recreational marine inboard and outboard engines to be tested in both a laboratory setting and through on-the-water trials to determine the effects of butanol-extended fuel on engine power, performance, emissions and overall durability. Phase I of the isobutanol testing on the water takes place this week in Annapolis, MD. Phase II is planned for later in 2012.
Along with BRP, Argonne Laboratory and the NMMA, marine manufacturers Volvo-Penta and Indmar Marine have provided testing resources for the first phase of the project.