If you are a petrol car owner you may have recently spotted signs at the pumps telling you that your regular E5 fuel is about to (or already has) change to E10.
What is the difference and why should you care?
For a long time petrol has included a small percentage (5% - hence the E5) of another fuel called ethanol. This is a plant-derived alcohol and it’s possible for cars to run purely on this fuel, as they have done in Brazil for some time now.
Engines need to be specially adapted or manufactured to run on ethanol, but most vehicles don’t blink an eye at 5%.
However, fuel stations are now all coming in line with many other European countries and switching to E10 fuel, which contains 10% ethanol.
This could see CO2 emissions reduced by 750,000 tonnes a year, which is the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road. Ethanol is regarded as a ‘zero carbon fuel’ because the carbon released when it is burned is offset by the carbon absorbed by the plants that produce it when they grow.
It’s not all rainbows and unicorns though, as some cars are unable to run on this new E10 fuel.
We highly recommend that you use this gov.uk checker to make sure that your vehicle is a suitable candidate for E10.
The vast majority of vehicles manufactured after 2011 will be able to run on this new fuel with no problems whatsoever, and many older models will also be fine.
If there are compatibility issues then you’ll need to use the (generally more expensive) super unleaded which remains E5.
If you put E10 in an unsuitable engine it will still run, but over time you could face problems with damage to seals and some of the plastic and metal components.
This move is generally been seen as a good one for the environment, and an obvious step as we get ever closer to 2030 when the UK will introduce a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.