A Comprehensive Guide to E10 Fuel: Everything You Need to Know

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Disclaimer: This blog post aims to provide general information about E10 fuel and should not be considered professional or legal advice.

Over the last few years, there have been growing concerns about climate change and environmental sustainability, so Governments and industries worldwide are seeking ways to reduce carbon emissions. The introduction of E10 fuel as the standard grade petrol in 2021 was part of this greener initiative in the UK.

E10 fuel has a composition of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol and offers several benefits to both vehicles and the environment. The main advantage of using E10 fuel is the reduced dependence on fossil fuels. By incorporating renewable ethanol derived from plant sources we can help to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. E10 fuel can also enhance engine performance and efficiency, leading to improved fuel economy and reduced engine wear.   

What is E10 fuel?

E10 is an eco-friendly fuel blend which has recently emerged as a promising, sustainable alternative to traditional petrol. E10 fuel contains up to 10% renewable ethanol whereas the previous standard petrol, E5, only contains up to 5% ethanol. By using E10 fuel, the impact on the environment is therefore minimised.   

Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel that’s produced by the fermentation of various plants, such as sugarcane and grains, along with their by-products. It’s believed that ethanol is atmospherically carbon neutral as the biofuel plants should absorb more carbon dioxide than is released during fuel production and combustion. As E10 blends petrol with a higher level of ethanol than E5, less fossil fuel is needed which could reduce CO2 emissions by around 750,000 tonnes per year.

Many European countries were already using E10 as standard petrol prior to 2021, and it’s also widely used in the USA and Australia. However, E5 fuel is still widely available at petrol stations across the UK but is now charged at a premium rate.

Benefits of E10 fuel

There are many benefits to using E10 fuel, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which will help the UK to achieve the Government’s climate change targets. Some other benefits of E10 fuel are:

  • Renewable energy source – E10 fuel can be produced domestically, so it’s unlikely that it will ever run out, reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Improved air quality – As E10 fuel helps to reduce CO2 emissions, air quality could possibly improve, particularly in urban areas with high vehicle density.
  • Enhanced engine performance – Ethanol has a higher-octane rating compared to gasoline which can improve engine performance.
  • Economically beneficial – The use and production of E10 fuel help to create jobs in the agricultural sector due to the increase in demand for crops used in ethanol production. As it’s a domestically produced fuel, E10 fuel could also contribute to a more stable fuel supply, potentially limiting price volatility.

Considerations for E10 fuel users

Over 95% of petrol-powered vehicles on the road are compatible with E10 fuel, including all petrol vehicles that have been manufactured since 2011. Most drivers will already be using E10 for their petrol vehicles but there are several considerations you should keep in mind:

  • Compatibility – Although most vehicles are compatible with E10 fuel, some older vehicles, particularly classic cars, motorcycles, and certain small engines may not be approved to use E10. You can easily check online if your vehicle can run on E10 fuel.
  • Fuel efficiency – As E10 has a slightly lower energy content than E5, drivers may notice a slight decrease in mileage per gallon (mpg). However, the difference is typically minimal and shouldn’t significantly impact most vehicles.
  • Storage – E10 fuel has a shorter shelf-life than E5 due to its higher level of ethanol. If you have a fuel storage container, you should therefore make sure to use your E10 fuel within a few months to prevent any degradation.
  • Maintenance – The higher ethanol levels in E10 fuel can corrode your vehicle’s fuel system over time and may cause damage to other vehicle fittings made from rubber and plastic. This means that maintenance and servicing may be required more regularly.

Environmental impact of E10 fuel

E10 fuel has widely been regarded as a greener alternative to standard E5 petrol as it contains a 10% ethanol blend which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By blending gasoline with ethanol, a renewable biofuel, E10 will help to lower the carbon footprint of vehicles and support efforts to tackle climate change. In addition, the production of ethanol from crops can provide economic opportunities for farmers and contribute to rural development.

However, there are challenges with ethanol production and the introduction of E10 has been critiqued by some environmentalists. The production of ethanol requires agricultural land, water resources, and energy inputs which increases the pressure on water resources and could decrease biodiversity. To help protect the environment, it’s important to promote sustainable agricultural practices, develop advanced biofuels with improved production processes and invest in cleaner, more efficient vehicle technologies.

Availability and legislation

E10 petrol has been the standard grade petrol since 2021, so is available at almost all petrol stations across the UK. Some petrol stations have both E10 and E5 fuel pumps which are beneficial for those that have vehicles that are incompatible with E10. However, E5 petrol is now charged at a premium rate and may not always be available, so drivers should check this before they need to refuel.

It’s unlikely that the Government will scrap E10 fuel as it’s now widely available and accepted as the new standard petrol for the UK. However, the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 is fast approaching and this may lead to future legislation on E10, plus add pressure on drivers to start making the switch to alternative fuels.

Tips for E10 fuel users

If you’re using E10 fuel, there are a few actions you can take to make the most out of your fuel usage and ensure proper maintenance of your vehicle. Here are some top tips for you to consider:

  • Check your vehicle’s compatibility – Before using E10 fuel, we recommend that you make sure that your vehicle is compatible. New vehicles manufactured from 2019 onwards should have an ‘E10’ and an ‘E5’ label near the filler cap to show the fuel they can use.
  • Monitor fuel efficiency – As some vehicles may experience a slight drop in fuel economy, you may need to adapt your driving behaviour and adopt hypermiling techniques to help save money on fuel.
  • Regular maintenance – For optimal performance, all drivers should ensure their vehicles are regularly maintained, regardless of the fuel they use. By keeping your vehicle in good condition, you can help to maintain fuel efficiency.
  • Storage precautions – If you plan to store your vehicle for an extended period of time, you should consider adding a fuel stabiliser to prevent ethanol from breaking down and attracting moisture. Remember E10 fuel has a shorter shelf-life than E5, so always try to use your supply before the quality decreases.
  • Seek professional advice – If you have any specific concerns about E10 fuel usage or encounter any issues with your vehicle’s performance, it’s always best to consult a professional mechanic or contact your vehicle’s manufacturer for guidance and recommendations.

The use of E10 fuel brings benefits to both consumers and the environment. By blending 10% ethanol with 90% gasoline, E10 fuel offers a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to traditional petrol, plus promotes the growth of the biofuel industry, and supports local agriculture.

Adopting E10 fuel as standard allows the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change in line with other European countries. Although E10 fuel has its drawbacks, its use represents a significant step towards achieving cleaner transportation and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.   

At Right Fuel Card, we help fleets to save time and money on their fuel expenditure. We offer a range of fuel cards, including UK Fuels, Keyfuels and Texaco Fast Fuels. Contact our friendly team today at 0113 202 5110 to find out which fuel card is best for your business. 

Is my vehicle compatible with E10?

Over 95% of petrol-powered vehicles in the UK are compatible with E10 fuel. You can use the E10 vehicle checker on the Government’s website to check if your vehicle is approved to use E10 fuel.

What should I do if my vehicle is not compatible with E10?

Continue to use E5 petrol in the ‘super’ grade (97+ octane) which you’ll be able to find at many large petrol stations across the UK.

What should I do if I have filled up with E10 by accident?

Using a single tank of E10 fuel in a non-compatible vehicle should not cause any major damage, so just make sure that you fill up with the correct E5 petrol the next time you need to refuel. However, you should avoid using E10 fuel in a vehicle that’s not compatible as prolonged use could damage rubber seals, plastics, and metals.

Can you mix E10 and E5 petrol?

It’s perfectly safe to mix E10 and E5 petrol but you should only do this if your vehicle is compatible with E10.

What if I drive a diesel vehicle?

The change to E10 fuel only applies to petrol, diesel fuel will not be changing.

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Karl Gurney
Head of Sales

Karl has over 14 years of experience in the fuel card industry and has a wealth of knowledge around the servicing and maintenance of fleet vehicles. Outside of work, Karl coaches a junior football team and enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 sons.