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Shell ClearFLEX Consumer FAQs
Frequently asked questions about Shell ClearFLEX
1. What does Shell ClearFLEXTM contain?
Shell ClearFLEXTM E85 biofuel is comprised of up to 83% ethanol blended with remaining amounts of regular gasoline as required by federal standards for Flex Fuel Vehicles. The formulation is visibly clearer than regular gasoline.
2. What precautions is Shell taking to prevent consumer misfueling?
Shell ClearFLEXTM E85 dispenser valences, signage and communications prominently display a blue and white color scheme and leverage Flex Fuel Vehicle language to alert consumers that the fuel can only be used in FFVs.
Shell ClearFLEXTM E85 nozzles are yellow, rather than the black used for Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines and, per U.S. requirements, the dispensers have two bright E85 warnings labels noting fuel content and Flex Fuel vehicles only designation.
The OEMs are using yellow caps or yellow indicator “rings” around the fuel entry point to signify E85 vehicle compatibility, however we are recommending consumers check their owner’s manual, look for vehicle badges, and check their fuel door for E85 compatibility labeling, as well as their fuel caps, prior to dispensing the product.
Shell ClearFLEXTM E85 is stored in separate underground storage tanks and is dispensed from different hoses and nozzles than Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines.
3. What is the percentage of ethanol contained in the E85 fuel you’re providing?
Shell ClearFLEXTM E85 fuel is comprised of up to 83% ethanol blended with remaining amounts of regular Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline as required by federal standards for Flex Fuel vehicles and meets U.S. ASTM specifications.
4. Why are there so few sites that offer E85?
As the current demand for E85 is relatively small, most fuel stations, which are typically owned by independent business people, have not found it economical to offer E85 outside the Midwest. The new equipment required for E85 must be tested and certified, and conversion costs for distribution can run as high as $200,000 per retail site (depending on the site’s infrastructure).
5. What is the difference between E10 and E85? What about E15?
E10 refers to the most generally available and compatible (with vehicles and retail infrastructure) gasoline in the U.S. today; it is essentially comprised of approximately 10% ethanol blended with 90% gasoline (regular, mid grade or premium). E85 is comprised of up to 83% ethanol blended with remaining amounts of regular gasoline. E15 would typically contain up to approximately 15% ethanol blended with remaining amounts of gasoline. Shell does not support the use of E15 at this time.
6. What will happen if a non-FlexFuel vehicle uses E85?
Fuelling a conventional (not modified for E85 use) vehicle with a high ethanol grade fuel could have some immediate as well as long-term effects. Depending on type of vehicle, the most probable immediate effects could be:
- The engine management system on the vehicle could be incapable of delivering the higher volume of fuel required for E85 combustion. Therefore the engine could be difficult to start.
- If the engine starts (for example due to residual ethanol-free fuel in the fuel system), it could run erratically, especially under idling conditions.
- The check engine warning light could come on, indicating that the engine is running too lean.
- Due to lower energy content and too lean of a mixture, the vehicle could show power loss and poor driveability.
- Exhaust emissions could be increased because the lambda / catalyst system cannot work properly.
7. Does E85 have the same properties as conventional gasoline?
No. E85 differs in many properties from conventional gasoline and can therefore only be used in Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV). E85 also has its own fuel specifications.
8. What is the octane rating of E85?
E85 has a high Research Octane Number (RON) of 100-105. Flexible Fuel Vehicles optimized for E85 use can benefit from this high octane rating.
9. How does vehicle mileage with E85 compare to conventional gasoline?
E85 contains less energy per gallon compared to conventional gasoline; therefore the engine needs more gallons of fuel for the same distance (up to 28% more with E85).
10. Will E85 be cheaper than conventional gasoline?
Not necessarily since the cost of E85 is dependent on blending economics (ethanol and hydrocarbon costs), renewable fuel credits or RINs and the market price that independent retailers choose to price the product. Due to tax incentives in certain states and the economics mentioned above, the fuel may be sold on a volume basis or energy content basis.
11. Can I fuel my car with E85?
Only Flexible Fuel Vehicles “FFV” designated to E85 use can run on this type of fuel. Conventional vehicles and non-automotive engines should not use E85.
12. What is the difference between a Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) and other cars?
FFVs have a variety of modified components. FFVs need a fuel sensor that detects the ethanol/gasoline ratio. A number of other parts on the FFV's fuel system are modified so that they are E85 compatible. The fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel injectors, computer system, anti-siphon device, etc have been modified. E85 is more corrosive, therefore any part that comes in contact with the fuel must be upgraded.
13. How do I know that my car is an E85 FFV?
Check your vehicle owner’s manual. You can also look for a yellow cap or yellow “ring” indicator around the fuel entry point, in addition to your fuel door label and vehicle badges. In case of doubt, contact the vehicle manufacturer prior to using E85.
14. Can I convert my conventional vehicle for E85 use?
Shell does not recommended use of aftermarket conversion kits as conventional vehicle’s fuel systems are not materially compatible with E85. Even if these kits enable a conventional engine to run on E85, the long-term incompatibility of the full fuel system’s materials could damage the vehicle. In addition, exhaust emissions could be increased and therefore conversion could be forbidden by authorities.
15. I accidentally fuelled my conventional car with E85, now the check engine light is on, what should I do?
A conventional engine cannot / should not run on E85. If you have filled more than 30-50% of your tank capacity with E85 your check engine light could likely appear. Stop the engine and contact your dealer or repair shop and let them pump the E85 out (some small amount can stay in the tank). Afterwards fill up with conventional gasoline.
16. I accidentally fuelled my diesel car with E85, what can I do?
Immediately stop the engine, contact your dealer or closest repair shop to thoroughly pump the fuel out from the tank, fuel lines and high-pressure fuel pump. Afterwards fill your tank to maximum level with diesel fuel.
17. Can I use E85 in some of my non-automotive equipment, e.g. lawnmower, motorbike, outboard motor, etc.?
No, E85 can only be used in E85 Flexible Fuel Vehicles. Use in any other equipment can lead to severe engine damage.
18. What happens if my tank is empty and E85 not available?
If you drive a Flex Fuel Vehicle, the FFV system allows the driver to use any fuel your vehicle manufacturer recommends if E85 is not available.