Ethanol used by the National Boat Racing Association

Ethanol sometimes gets a bad rap in the boating world, but some high performing race boats are proving that charge is all wet.

The Kansas Corn Commission joined efforts with the Renewable Fuels Association and East Kansas Agri-Energy ethanol plant to sponsor the National Boat Racing Association’s 2011 Ethanol Challenge Series. Boat racers from coast to coast gathered this past weekend in the ethanol-producing town of Garnett, Kansas (where our office is located) to speed around Cedar Valley Reservoir running ten percent ethanol fuel (E10) at the National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) “Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Nationals.”

“This was an opportunity to tell our story that E10 blends will run in any commercial type of vehicle, whether boats, auto or whatever,” said Steve Gardner, general manager of Garnett’s ethanol plant East Kansas Agri-Energy located in Garnett. “If this will run in racing boats, it will run in any type of boats.”

All of the boats that race in NBRA competitions around the country this year have to prove they are using 10 percent ethanol fuel in order to be eligible for additional prize money in the race. “We test all the fuel before the race and then the top three entries in any class are tested when they come in to make sure they are running ethanol,” said NBRA president Dan Crummett.

The NBRA races include a number of different classes of hydroplanes and runabouts with stock and modified outboards that run as fast as 96 miles per hour. Crummett says most of the issues that boaters experience when using ethanol-blended fuel can be addressed with better maintenance. “Any fuel will degrade over not a long period of time once the oil is mixed in it,” he says, which is why it’s so important for boaters to avoid leaving fuel set n the tank for an extended time.

Today, nearly every gallon of gasoline sold in the United States is blended with ethanol, most commonly in the E10 formulation.  This blend of fuel has been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in all engine types, including marine equipment, automobiles, and small or non-road engines. These two-stroke engine boats will be taking engine performance to the next level, reaching top speeds operating on E10 fuel purchased from the same retail fuel locations as local consumers.

“American boaters have been utilizing ethanol-blended fuel safely and effectively for years,” said Vernon Barfield, NBRA Spokesperson. “Ethanol-blended fuel provides the high-performance engines in this series with the horsepower and performance they need to win.  We are excited to show that our racing boats are able to perform to their best capability using E10 fuel, shaking the myths that ethanol harms marine engines.”

Edited version. Original post on Corn Commentary.

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