GAfuels readers already know of the many advantages to using mogas in aircraft approved for its use. Not only does its save them $1.40-$1.50 per gallon compared to avgas, but these pilots are making real progress in reducing lead emissions from general aviation, the only significant consumer of leaded fuel on the planet.
While your bloggers would always recommend obtaining aviation-grade mogas directly from a fuel terminal, and have it delivered and stored in aviation-grade fuel equipment at your airport, in many instances the gasoline obtainable at retail gas stations and marinas is quite suitable for aircraft, provided it has the correct octane (AKI) rating and contains no ethanol. It is absolutely necessary to check each and every batch of fuel obtained from retail sellers of gasoline for the presence of ethanol, regardless how the pump may be labeled. (Fuel contamination is rare, but occurs for every type of fuel, including avgas and Jet-A).
Fortunately, it is easy, quick and cheap to check for ethanol’s presence in fuel. Petersen Aviation describes how this is done with a simple olive jar and a small amount of water. It even offers a reusable tester for a small fee. Fuel-Testers.com offers its Quick Check Solution that makes use of a special dye.
Recently a member of the Aviation Fuel Club, Gilbert Pierce of Germantown, Tenn., sent us the description of how he tests for ethanol using a few drops of ordinary food coloring:
“While driving 20 miles into Mississippi to get ethanol-free gasoline for my airplane I was contemplating what must be in the blue dye that is in the Quick Check Solution kit. It occurred to me that what ever it was had to be water soluble so it would mix with the ethanol. I always check the suppliers of ethanol-free fuel before pumping any gas as I have been lied to about it. Anyway, the test kit that you add water to is a hassle and takes a few minutes to settle out. The blue Fuel-Check works great but is expensive. When I got home I got my wife’s red, blue and green food coloring out; it’s water soluble. A quick check with pint jars of ethanol-free fuel and adulterated fuel indicated that a drop of any color food coloring will dissolve and turn the adulterated fuel the same color as the food coloring. Putting a drop of food coloring in pure gasoline, the drop just goes to the bottom of the sample and rolls around there as little globules. Now I just carry a bottle of inexpensive and readily obtainable food coloring and a quart glass jar – it’s easier to get a fuel sample into – and have an instant indication of ethanol free fuel or adulterated fuel.”
Remember, always test every batch of gasoline purchased at any location other than an airport — “Let the buyer beware” !
The GAfuels Blog is written by two private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft: Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., a pilot, homebuilder and expert on autogas and ethanol, and Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer, aviation sales rep for U-Fuel, and president of EAA1114.