One of the most intriguing and affordable products addressing pollution and reliance on foreign oil available today are E85 or “flex fuel” ethanol conversion kits. While you could spend thousands buying a new car that come stock as flex fuel ready, this more cost effective solution is a great alternative and excellent way to recycle older technology.
I thought this was an intriguing product idea the first time I heard about it and did some research to find the best flex fuel conversion kit to share here. I’ve come up with a few tips for you to follow as an FAQ on flex fuel conversion:
Q: What is a flex-fuel, E85, or ethanol powered car?
A: Ethanol is alcohol most commonly made from corn or switchgrass. This substance can be used to power a combustion engine but there are certain requirements that must be met in order for your car to work with it.
- Your car must be fuel injected for a conversion kit to work
- You can’t burn pure ethanol, the highest concentration is 85% and that’s why it’s called E85
- Unless you just bought a flex fuel ready car you have to adjust the computer in your car to sense the ethanol to gasoline ratio so the fuel injectors don’t mess up your engine
Q: What does a flex fuel conversion kit do exactly?
A: They attach to the fuel injectors in your car and add a tiny computer that senses the fuel mixture and adjusts output into your cylinders.
Q: Will converting my car to Ethanol hurt it at all?
A: This is a source of debate but many experts say that Ethanol (while slightly more acidic than gasoline) will not hurt your engine, in fact, most gas pumps are already mixing ethanol into your gasoline today and you might not have even know it! They just mix a much smaller percentage in, usually around 2%. Some people have even tried running their non flex fuel cars on E85 and reported favorable results. This may be due to newer cars having more sensitive fuel injector computers that, while not designed for E85, are still smart enough to adjust for it.
Now that we’ve covered a couple of the basic questions it is important to remind you that we here at Biomass Authority are only sharing tips and are not to be held responsible for the modification of any vehicle, consult the experts (who we are about to recommend) and ask your local mechanic for help. Shown below are a few of the different fuel injector plugs that come with a custom E85 conversion kit.
In our research on the web we found several flex fuel kits and companies championing the conversion cause. We even spotted a few on eBay. When all was said and done however, we came to realize that there is really only one solid company out there to recommend. We contacted three companies but only heard back from http://www.change2e85.com. We spoke directly with the founder (who has been in the business for several years) and we even ordered a kit for ourselves and had it arrived safely. While their website isn’t quite as professional or slick as some that we’ve seen, their expert knowledge of conversion and flex fuels is outstanding. Their kits are highly advanced and reasonably priced. They are designed to work in colder climates (where E85 has been said to struggle with starting) and is easy to install and fit to your car.
In conclusion, flex fuel conversion is an interesting project that could make your car more adaptable and afford you the opportunity to support locally grown US fuels. In our opinion, it doesn’t hurt to update your car’s fuel injector computers and if you ever run out of gas on that country road but you have a bottle of hard alcohol available, your car just might run on it with a kit like this! This could even be a survival strategy and certainly a benefit when fuel prices begin to rise again.
The one drawback I noticed is that E85 is limited in availability to midwestern states where corn is grown. As for us Californian’s, flex fuel conversion kits are actually illegal because they modify the emissions of your vehicle. Even though this modification is for the better, it is not yet considered legal (although Arnold Schwarzenegger and other politicians are championing the cause). Every other state in the US allows flex fuel conversion kits. If you order a kit they will not ship to California so you might have get creative and collaborate with your relatives in Iowa for a redirect ;)