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Old 09-03-2011, 11:30 AM
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QSilver7 QSilver7 is offline
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BMW's Position on Ethanol: up to E10 (10% ethanol) is OK

This is info taken from a 10/25/2009 reply in a thread about the use of Ethanol & other Flex-fuels...the info was taken from the BMW TIS:

Originally Posted by QSilver7 View Post
BMW recommends NOT to use any fuel with an alcohol (ethanol) content greater than 10%.

Subject-Alcohol Fuel Blends in BMW Vehicles

All with gasoline engines

Fuel blends containing a high percentage (above 10%) of alcohol, mainly ethanol, are becoming more commercially available. Customers inquire about the possibility of using alcohol fuels (e.g. E85) in BMW vehicles


Fuels containing up to and including 10% of ethanol or other oxygenates with up to 2.8% oxygen by weight, that is, 15% MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) or 3% methanol plus an equivalent amount of co-solvent, will not void the applicable warranties with respect to defects in materials or workmanship.
Although, usage of such alcohol fuel blends may result in drivability, starting, and stalling problems due to reduced volatility and lower energy content of the fuel. Those drivability problems may be especially evident under certain environmental conditions, such as: high or low ambient temperatures and high altitude.
Only specially adapted vehicles (FFV - Flexible Fuel Vehicles) can run on high alcohol fuel blends.
BMW, for the various technical and environmental reasons explained below, does not offer FFV models.

Usage of E85, or any other high alcohol content blend (e.g. E30) in BMW vehicles, will cause various drivability complaints (cold start problems, stalling, reduced performance, poor fuel economy, etc.), may cause excessive emissions, and may cause irreversible damage to engine, emission control and fuel delivery systems due to incompatibility of materials with alcohols.

General Notes Regarding E85 Fuel.

E85 fuel contains 85% (by volume) of ethanol and 15% of gasoline. Ethanol can be produced chemically from ethylene or biologically from grains, agricultural wastes, or any organic material containing starch or sugar. In the US, ethanol is mainly produced from corn and is classified as a renewable fuel.
Similar to gasoline, ethanol contains hydrogen and carbon; with additional oxygen molecules build into its chemical chain. This chemical structure makes ethanol's burning process slightly cleaner compared to the gasoline (lower tailpipe emissions).
On the other hand, due to lower carbon content, ethanol provides 27% less energy (for identical volume) then gasoline, resulting in the reduced fuel economy of E85 vehicles (approximately 22% higher consumption). Increased fuel consumption requires the appropriately enlarged fuel tank capacities (usually 30% increase), and the specific DME calibrations for the E85 lower Stoichiometric air/fuel ratio (10 compared to 14.7 for gasoline engines).
E85 fuel volatility is typically lower then gasoline (RVP 6-10 psi, compared to 8-15 psi for gasoline). Lower fuel volatility will reduce vehicle evaporative emissions, but it may cause cold starting problems especially with lower ambient temperatures.

Under certain environmental conditions, mainly lower ambient temperatures, ethanol separates from gasoline/alcohol mixture and absorbs water. The ethanol absorbed water molecules are heavier then gasoline or ethanol, they remain at the bottom of fuel tank and when introduced into combustion process they tend to form an extremely lean mixture resulting in misfire, rough idle and cold starting problems.

Certain materials, commonly used with gasoline are totally incompatible with alcohols. When these materials come in contact with ethanol, they may dissolve in the fuel, which may damage engine components and may result in poor vehicle drivability.
Some metals (e.g. zinc, brass, lead, aluminum) become degraded by long exposure to ethanol fuel blends. Also, some nonmetallic materials used in automotive industry such as: natural rubber, polyurethane, cork gasket material, leather, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyamides, methyl-methacrylate plastics, and certain thermo & thermoset plastics degrade when in contact with fuel ethanol.

In order to safely and effectively operate a motor vehicle running on E85, the vehicle must be compatible with alcohol use. Some manufacturers have developed vehicles called FFV (Flexible Fuel Vehicle) that can operate on any blend of ethanol and gasoline (from 0% ethanol and 100% gasoline, up to 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Ethanol FFVs are similar to gasoline vehicles, with main differences in materials used in fuel management and delivery systems, and DME control module calibrations. In some cases, also E85 vehicles require special lubricating oils.

Aftermarket conversions of gasoline-powered vehicles to ethanol-fueled vehicles, although possible, are not recommended due to internal materials and DME software incompatibility, as well, as the high costs of conversion.


Components damage/malfunctions, or any drivability problems caused by use of fuels containing more then 10% ethanol (or other oxygenates with more then 2.8% oxygen by weight) will not be covered under BMW warranties with respect to defects in materials or workmanship.
Q {BMW CCA Member #191509}
2006 E53 X5 4.4i (Sterling Gray) 12/05 mfg date <<~>> 97 740iL (Arctic Silver) 3/97 mfg date
99 540iT (Orient Blue) <<~>> 95 525IT (Alpine White)
91 735iL (Schwarz Black) <<~>> 85 325e (Bronzit)
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