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April 24, 2012

The door has been opened for E15, fuel containing 15% ethanol, to make its way to the marketplace as early as this summer. Lawn equipment operators and their servicing dealers must remain diligent and work together in order to avoid potential equipment problems as a result.

According to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), small engine-powered equipment is not designed to run on anything greater than E10. Improperly filling your lawn equipment with E15 could result in irreversible engine damage, in addition to exposing operators to a variety of safety risks.

The EPA has approved the first round of applications for registering ethanol use in making E15. As of April 9, there were 22 companies on the approval list. “This is the last federal hurdle before a fuel can be brought to market,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the OPEI.

It’s up to you to avoid it

Although E15 is not approved for off-road use, consumers could still mistakenly put it in their lawn equipment. A label at the pump (see photo) is designed to warn consumers, but will likely prove to be largely ineffective, according to Kiser. Secondly, E15 will be less expensive than E10, encouraging today’s more price-conscious consumer to go for the E15.

“For the first time in history, the paradigm has changed,” Kiser says. “It has always been that whatever was safe to put in your car was safe to put in your equipment. Suddenly, in one fell swoop, that is no longer the case.”

More here.