Alexandria, Virginia – Tests performed on small Briggs & Stratton engines running ethanol and isobutanol fuel blends showed no irregular or unstable engine or performance issues, according to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

The tests suggest that isobutanol could help meet the U.S. renewable fuel mandate with minimal to no impact on existing equipment and off-road vehicles, the Institute said.

“We are pleased with the results of isobutanol testing,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “It shows us that isobutanol could be a biofuel alternative that can be introduced into the existing supply chain without the potential disruption and harm to our outdoor power equipment engines. In the economic interest of our members and the safety interest of consumers, we need to be open to a biofuel that can perform reliably in the millions of products on the market: lawnmowers, chain saws, motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs and UTVs, boats and older cars.”

Isobutanol, an alcohol that acts like a hydrocarbon, can be produced from corn starch, cellulosic materials, agricultural residues and other ethanol feedstocks. It could function as a “drop-in” product to allow replacement of petroleum-derived raw materials with isobutanol-derived materials, without modification to equipment or production processes.

After testing three different Briggs & Stratton engine models on gasoline containing 12.5 per cent isobutanol, the testers said that no engine or performance issues were found, horsepower and torque levels remained the same, there were no significant changes in emissions, and the fuel produced equivalent or better performance than E10 (10 per cent ethanol blended with 90 per cent gasoline) at temperatures ranging from 4C to 49C.

Isobutanol does not absorb water as ethanol does, leading to fewer problems with seasonal-use conditions and long storage periods common with small engine applications, the OPEI said.

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