Boats, biofuels and you
In the interests of promoting the use of cleaner, greener, locally made fuels in NSW, the State Government has taken steps to ensure the broader use of biofuels.
Biofuels are perfectly safe to use in road vehicles designed to be compatible with them, but they create some significant issues for boat owners.
The biofuels available in NSW are ethanol and biodiesel which are mixed in varying degrees with petroleum. For example E10 is petrol containing 10 per cent ethanol, B20 is diesel containing 20 per cent biodiesel.
E10 is now widely available in NSW and, subject to certain exemptions including for marinas, the minimum ethanol content of all regular unleaded petrol sold in NSW after July 2011 will be 10 per cent. Petrol that contains ethanol must be labelled at the dispenser. Premium grade unleaded petrol without ethanol will still be available.
On 1 March 2009, the national Diesel Fuel Quality Standard was amended to permit up to 5 per cent biodiesel in all diesel fuel in Australia. B20 will also be increasingly available but any diesel blend with more than 5 per cent biodiesel will have to be labelled at the dispenser.
Marine engine manufacturers are producing new engines capable of using biofuels, however there are still some significant safety and fuel management issues of which boat owners need to be aware.
Generally ethanol blended fuel is not recommended in a marine application because ethanol absorbs water readily, to the point where it may separate from the petrol.
The ethanol itself may cause problems for carburettors, fibreglass fuel tanks, rubber fuel lines, fittings, seals and filtration systems, particularly in older engines, and non-standard engine installations.
The NSW Government has provided for exemptions so that regular unleaded petrol may continue to be available from marinas after 2011.
Boat owners who purchase their petrol from service stations will be able to purchase premium grade unleaded fuel without ethanol.
E10 should not be used in a boat unless:
Always consult your marine dealer
Remember: it is an offence under The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 to pollute NSW waterways.
The following links provide additional information on this issue: