E-15 Gasoline is Here… marine motors and lawn care providers should be aware

E-15 Gasoline is Here… marine motors and lawn care providers should be aware

Boating is a very popular activity in the sunshine state.   Photo: Rick O'Connor

Boating is a very popular activity in the sunshine state.
Photo: Rick O’Connor

Okay… Let’s start at the beginning. We began drilling oil over 100 years ago. The crude was refined into kerosene, gasoline, plastics, and other products that have completely changed our lives. A huge international industry developed from the drilling and employed who knows how many people. But then a few problems began to emerge…


The emissions from burning oil have added compounds to our atmosphere that have contributed to human health issues and have changed the climate. As the human population grew the demand for this energy source grew, and the problems grew as well. One of the first steps made by the governments and the industry to curb the problems was the removal of lead from gasoline. At first this was problematic because many of the internal combustion engines that ran on gasoline did not run efficiently on unleaded and a back-lash occurred. Service stations offered both leaded and unleaded at the pump and motorist could choose. The car industry followed by developing engines that ran on unleaded only and eventually leaded gasoline was no longer offered. Since the phase out the blood lead level has dropped from 88% of children in the United States to 1% in 2006 (www.worstpolluted.org).


The next issue was the amount of oil. Though many text list fossil fuels as a renewable energy, it takes millions of years to renew it – so in the time frame we think of it is basically a non-renewable resource. With a finite amount of oil available the industry began looking for new sources of oil and encouraging the public to conserve their use. The government answered this by requiring the car industry to produce fuel efficient automobiles, which they have. My original truck got between 8-12 mpg, today’s trucks can get over 20 mpg. Smaller, more efficient engines that burn unleaded gasoline have certainly improved some of the problems.


One of many marinas in Florida where boats fuel.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

One of many marinas in Florida where boats fuel.
Photo: Rick O’Connor

However the population continues to grow. I remember just a few years ago everyone was amazed when we hit 6 billion humans, we are now at 7.2 billion and the clock moves quickly (http://www.census.gov/popclock/) . The largest growth has been in China and India. Both of these nations have experienced huge increases in their economy and quality of life. As their economic status improved their demand for energy increased and concerns about the amount oil demand increased. With the somewhat finite amount of oil, and the compounds that are still part of the emissions. Many became concerned about what would happen with growth in that part of the world. One answer to both emissions and amount was to begin searching for alternative fuels. Biofuels was one option. These fuels can be generated from plant material, which can produce ethanol. There are certainly some problems with growing corn for fuel instead of food but this is one option that the industry began to explore. Just as the original engines had problems with unleaded fuel, today’s engines have problems with ethanol. The engines that power the Indy and Formula 1 race cars do use biofuels but who can afford a Formula 1 engine? The industry’s response was to blend ethanol into the existing unleaded gasoline and offer this. The hope was that the global amount of gasoline could be conserved using this method. The original fuel was 10% ethanol and was called E-10 fuel. As expected problems occurred. Though the engine ran pretty efficiently if the fuel was used in a relatively quick period of time, and not allowed to sit within the tank and fuel lines, the ethanol began to degrade parts. Pieces of rubber and plastic blocked fuel lines causing all sorts of problems. I personally experienced this issue with my outboard motor. The outboard industry responded by developing more E-10 friendly engines and additives you can use if your fuel will be sitting in the tank for long periods of time. It is currently recommended that if you are not going to use your lawnmower or outboard over winter that you fill the tank for storage. Ethanol breaks down and water is produced. With a full tank there will be less water accumulation over time. Now comes E-15.


Yep… E-15, 15% ethanol. Though this move will eventually improve some of the problems with using oil there will be, as there have been, some growing pains. IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED THAT OUTBOARD MOTORS, LAWN CARE MOTORS, OR ANY OTHER SMALL ENGINE, use this E-15 fuel. It is currently being offered at service stations but in many cases is NOT clearly marked. All boaters, lawn care operators, and anyone else who uses small engines should check the gas pump labels carefully before fueling.

UF/IFAS Leon County Extension is Among First Three Commercial “Zero Net Energy” Buildings in Florida!

The old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” does not always apply. During a recent national webinar, research staff at the New Buildings Institute (NBI) headquartered in Vancouver, Washington profiled the University of Florida IFAS Leon County Extension building as a case study. This project proves that older office buildings can be successfully renovated to achieve next-generation performance standards, of which the “Holy Grail” is “Zero Net Energy” (ZNE). ZNE buildings are ultra-energy-efficient structures that produce at least as much energy on site as they consume over the course of a year.

With this achievement, the Leon County Board of County Commissioners has joined an elite leadership group of nationally recognized institutions that have implemented energy-efficient technologies and practices in the design, construction or retrofit, and operation of green buildings. The Board’s Extension Center joins a prestigious list of Zero Net Energy buildings. Similar sized recognized buildings include:  Oberlin College Lewis Center in Oberlin, OH (built 2000); the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, WI (2007); and the Leslie Shao-Ming Sun Field Station in Woodside, CA (2002).

A new solar array covers the employee parking area providing electricity for the Extension Office. This is one of the energy retrofits that has gained national sustainability recognition. Photo provided by Leon County.

There are now 32 “ZNE Verified” buildings nationwide and one “ZNE Verified” district. Two of the ZNE Verified buildings are in Florida, and the one ZNE Verified district is, too; it’s the Anna Maria Historic Green Village. The other ZNE building in Florida is the TD Bank Branch – Ft Lauderdale. Both of these became ZNE Verified during the 2012 operating year, and announced in NBI’s 2013 Research Report.

Average Energy Use Index (EUI) for all 33 ZNE Verified building projects is 21. EUI is NBI’s measure of all energy BTUs (electric and gas) used to power the building. The Leon County Extension building is more energy-efficient than the nationwide average among ZNE Verified buildings, with an EUI of 19. For our square footage, the EUI that most closely matches ours is the Aldo Leopold Center’s. It has an EUI of 16, which is more than offset by its renewable energy generation of EUI 18.

UF/IFAS Leon County Extension OfficeThe Leon County Extension building was built in 1961, renovated in 2000, and retrofitted in 2012 – with T8 lighting, solar PV and closed-loop geothermal HVAC (ground-source heat pumps). The energy system upgrades were funded by a federal energy grant and local tax dollars from the Leon County Board of County Commissioners. These upgrades complemented an underground cistern system designed and installed by staff of County Facilities Management and Public Works in 2010-2011. The four-tank, 40,000-gallon, on-site rainwater harvesting and storage system is used for irrigation of demonstration ornamental and vegetable gardens.

Combined, the water and energy conservation system retrofits have transformed the Extension Center into Leon County government’s “Sustainable Building Demonstration,” which was a vision and goal of the Board of County Commissioners and their County Sustainability Coordinator. Their vision enabled a partnership with the building occupants (University of Florida Extension faculty) and citizen advisory committee members to develop the retrofit plans, and to work with Facilities Management to operate the building efficiently.

Our 52-year-old Tallahassee building – plus 7 of the other 32 ZNE Verified projects – were renovations, not new construction. The average (EUI) of the entire renovation group nationwide was not significantly different from that of new buildings constructed with ZNE goals driving the design and engineering process from the ground up, even though new construction gives more opportunity to incorporate the latest technology in the building envelope. NBI hopes that this very important finding provides motivation for a new focus on the opportunity to successfully renovate existing buildings to meet ZNE status, starting with government agencies, academic institutions and corporations.

To learn more visit our office and project information center located at 615 Paul Russell Rd. in Tallahassee, Florida. You may also call the office for details and to arrange a group tour. 850-606-5200.

Visit our real-time eGauge dashboard with calculated energy consumption, production, and savings.

Leon County Sustainable Resource Center (2)

Real time dashboard with summarized energy production, consumption, and savings. Photo Courtesy of eGauge.










E-10 FUEL Advice for Boaters

E-10 FUEL Advice for Boaters

Boat and Trailer

Boaters should consider additional fuel prep when a boat will not be in use for an extended time period. Photo Courtesy of Florida Sea Grant

Since the introduction of 10% ethanol to gasoline (E-10 fuel) many boaters, including yours truly, have had problems with fouled fuel filters and marine engines not running at their top performance.  The ethanol added to the fuel combines with oxygen increasing the combustion process.  This makes for a more efficient burning fuel and less emissions for the environment.  Sounds great, but it has been a nightmare for mariners.

The problem with boats is that we do not use them on a daily basis as we do our cars.  When E-10 fuel sits it will absorb oxygen via water vapor through the vents.  Over time the ethanol/water mixture begins to separate from the gasoline in a process called “phase separation”.

Extreme separation leaves a milky, rusty brown mixture at the bottom of the fuel tank; right where the intake for the fuel line is on many motors.  This mixture moves through the motor clogging fuel filters, miss-firing, or not running at all.

Water contaminated ethanol fuel creates a mixture that can breakdown fiberglass fuel tanks, fuel lines, and sealing rings releasing particles that plug filters as well.  To counter this problem Jeff Posner, of Posner Marine in Pensacola, recommends a fuel stabilizer that will inhibit phase separation.  The manufacturers state that adding the correct amount will inhibit separation for 12 months.  A colleague of mine has used this product while his boat sat for three months and had no problems with the engine after that period of time.  Posner does recommend you read the label to make sure you are purchasing “marine-grade” stabilizer and not one meant for lawn mowers or chains saws.  CR 4000 fuel lines will inhibit deterioration but Posner mentioned that motors built since 2000 should have these already.


Many boaters park their boats for the winter. There has been a debate as to whether to store the can empty and buy new fuel in spring or store full with stabilizer.  According to several sources the better of the two options is to fill the tank 95% full and add the stabilizer.  Empty space in the tank will fill with water vapor entering through the vents.  More space equals more water which equals more separation which equals more problems.  The tank should be 95% full to allow for expansion of gases.  Many portable fuel tanks do not have vents, thus no water vapor entry, but Posner states any water vapor in the tank will trigger separation if the temperature increases; so keep portable tanks cool and out of the sunlight.  He also recommends that the fuel with stabilizer run through the motor before you park it for the winter.

There are service stations in the Panhandle that sell gasoline with no ethanol; this can also be found at many local marinas.  The cost may be more but could save you frustration and money down the road.  The government is now considering E-15 fuel.  Posner stated that the newer marine engines are designed for the E-10 but not the E-15, and that you should not use that in your boat until newer marine products designed for it are on the market.

So… when storing fuel in your motor over the winter, fill the tank, add stabilizer, run fuel through the motor, and place a new filter/water separator on the line for spring.  With good winter prepping you should have a great boating summer.  You can find more information at the following:





Water Management Summit of Northwest Florida to be held at Niceville Community Center January 31

Water Management Summit Flyer. Great Speakers and Topics for Irrigation and Turf Professionals.

Water is a precious natural resource that often makes headlines. Here in Northwest Florida we have Areas of Special Concern in which it has been determined that availability will not meet the needs as our population grows. Now is the time to make all efforts to conserve this valuable commodity. For those in the landscape industry, water plays a big part in their livelihood. To learn more about water conservation and related issues please attend this Third Annual event January 31, 2013 from 8:00 – 4:30. $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Door Prizes Available for those who registered in advance by January 25! To pre-register call Sheila Dunning, Okaloosa County Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent – 850.689.5850.

Hosted at the Niceville Community Center.

Topics and Speakers include:

Water Use Update – Lauren Connell, Hydrogeologist, Resource Regulation, Northwest Florida Water Management

Landscape Irrigation Water Requirements, What Does the Science Say? – Michael Dukes, Ph.D., Irrigation Specialist, University of Florida

Urban Irrigation Smart Controller Retrofits – Kati Migliaccio, University of Florida, Tropical Research and Education Center

Reclaimed Water – Tom Shannon, Ewing Irrigation

Practical Considerations for Minimizing Environmental Impact of Turf Maintenance – Bryan Unruh, Ph.D., Turfgrass Professor and Associate Center Director, University of Florida, West Florida Research and Education Center

Damage Prevention – Brad Martin, Sunshine One Call 811

Click here to view the entire agenda.


Soil Moisture Sensor Video and Urban Irrigation Scheduler Instructions

ET Controllers Installation and Programming Video

For more resources and information come to the summit and visit http://irrigation.ifas.ufl.edu