The First Time Is The Hardest

Thank you to Nuffnang and the Queensland Government for supporting our family and sponsoring this post

The first time I had to change a nappy was definitely the hardest. Not the messiest – not by a long shot. But hardest? Yep.

It wasn’t only about what I was about to discover, it was that I was unsure what I was doing and pretty sure, based on long close association with myself, I was going to stuff it up.

Twenty-five years later and I can change a number three with one eye shut. Actually, really, properly, one eye shut, because I’d be trying not to fully wake up so there’s a chance I could get back to sleep.

Switching to biofuel is a bit like that.

The bit where it gets easier, I mean. I’m not suggesting you should attempt to drive sleepy.

But of course, I’ve always found the first time for anything is the most daunting. First day at school. First time I kissed a girl. First time I emptied the muck out of the water tanks on the bus.

When I caught wind of a campaign promoting E10 fuel (that’s an ethanol/unleaded blend) I decided to give it a go to see if I’d be interested in putting myself forward. I pulled up next to the bowser, flipped open the cap hider and jumped out with an enthusiasm which lasted right up until I stood in front of the line of colourful nozzles.

Suddenly I had doubts.

Wasn’t there something about ethanol doing things to an engine or giving you less kilometres or smelling like Grandma’s farts or something? The very vagueness of my recollections gave me some comfort.

But E10 has advanced in the ten years since it was introduced. I know this because I Googled it.

I’m not going to bog you down in the technical side of things because I don’t really care about that sort of thing, let alone understand it, but in a nutshell when enthanol blended fuel was introduced a decade ago concerns were quickly raised that it caused corrosion to fuel components. But nowadays the fuel is regulated and quality issues have been sorted, so it’s all-good.

To summarize:

Old ethanol blended fuel = a bit bad

New ethanol blended fuel = a lot good

I only include it because you should really be aware of this stuff on the off chance your partner might do what my partner did and question whether you’ve thought this through.

From our test runs to date, near as I can tell there’s no noticeable difference in performance, no ‘Grandma released a little something she kept over from the seventies’ smell and no tell-tale knocking from the engine because the octane level is wrong for the engine (Google taught me that too).

Most cars these days are absolutely okay with E10 but you can check by typing your rego into this online checker: E10 OK. It’s a Qld government run site. The one thing I’d do differently if I had my time over is this online rego check to make sure my car could happily accept the biofuel mix before I went and filled up.

So for all that, why even bother? I mean, it’s not necessarily going to save you money. And okay, it is better for the environment because it releases less emissions, but if it’s not ‘Earth returning to Eden’ better, why do it?

Firstly, I think it’s about numbers. E10 is 10% ethanol. If 10% of cars on the roads ran on renewable cleaner fuel that’d be a huge thing. One day, maybe. Well, how about in the meantime if all cars ran on fuel consisting of 10% renewable cleaner fuel? That’s the same thing. The totals at the bottom of the columns in both scenarios would match up. So that’s still a huge thing.

But for us personally, we’re doing it for the same reason some families choose cloth nappies, and we have solar panels and a worm farm at home: it feels good to do something positive for the world we live in.

Tracey and I have gone from giving biofuel a go to see if we want to put our hand up for a sponsored post, to actually looking for it when we put fuel in the car. And that was all before they came back and said they’d like me to write something about it on this blog.

Which brings me to another reason to consider using E10: it’ll help the local renewables industry grow. It seems they still only unlock about a third of the energy from sugarcane, and providing a market should surely push them to invest and dig deeper into the science of this, making head roads into a better world for all of us. Feeding our scraps to my thousand head of worms, or doing my washing at night so the power from my panels is maximised, doesn’t solve the issues of landfill or coal power plants, but it does encourage towards a greener Earth. I see biofuel in the same sphere.

For us, doing a big lap of Aus this year, making the switch to E10 has actually made us feel a little better about the amount of petrol we’ll be using in our car to explore the areas we find ourselves in. We were still going without it – we can’t walk around Australia – but we can do a little bit better for the environment than 100% unleaded petroleum. All because we made a conscious effort to try it.

That’s all I’m suggesting to you: give it a go.

Although I suspect, just like us, it won’t be your last E10 tank of fuel.

Because just as with firsts like changing nappies or walking into an unfamiliar social environment or snogging or even emptying grey water, after you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone it all quickly falls into place and simply becomes part of your everyday.

Thank you to the Nuffnang and Queensland Government for supporting our family and sponsoring this post

Raising a family on little more than laughs

7 Comments

  • I tried biodiesel for a while – made my own then started using fuel made by someone else – his fuel was dodgey and I had to have my fuel tank stripped twice – frustrating it’s not more readily available commercially.

  • I question the environmental credentials of E10. The cost of producing the sugar cane in diesel terms and the cost of other fuels like electricity to produce the final ethanol product could easily offset the benefit of burning E10 in our cars. All these facts need airing before making a judgement on the value of E10.

  • As an engineer for 30 years and having re-built many engines and car repairs I can say from my experience that E10 is not a kind fuel to engines or components. Whilst it has improved there are some physical limits as to why its a sub-standard automotive fuel, namely Ethanol’s propensity to absorb water and that is what causes the corrosion. It also has less ‘ energy density’ so each liter of E10 will have less energy than ULP and thats a fact. Unless your buying E10 for 5% LESS than ULP, you are likely paying more per Km on fuel, unless (there is always an unless) you have a modern engine computer that can detect E10 and tune the engine to narrow the gap.

    All this talk of ‘ jobs’ and doing good for the environment and I head NOTHING about Aussie made LPG fuel that is many times cleaner than E10, and all the unleaded fuels you care to name… 110 Octane, gentle on the engine and with a modern LPG injection there is NO power loss and the same fuel consumption as a ULP car… but at 1/2 the price… Thats the best fuel on the market, its clean, cheap and reliable… having been around for nearly 100 years now… want to do something for Aussie jobs, the environment and your own pocket then go Aussie made LPG….

What do you think?