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Compatibility Assessment of Elastomer Materials to Test fuels Representing Gasoline Blends Containing Ethanol and Isobutanol

The compatibility of elastomeric materials used in fuel storage and dispensing applications was determined for test fuels
representing neat gasoline and gasoline blends containing 10 and 17 vol.% ethanol, and 16 and 24 vol.% isobutanol. The
actual test fuel chemistries were based on the aggressive formulations described in SAE J1681 for oxygenated gasoline.
Elastomer specimens of fluorocarbon, fluorosilicone, acrylonitrile rubber (NBR), polyurethane, neoprene, styrene
butadiene rubber (SBR) and silicone were exposed to the test fuels for 4 weeks at 60°C. After measuring the wetted
volume and hardness, the specimens were dried for 20 hours at 60°C and then remeasured for volume and hardness.
Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) was also performed to determine the glass transition temperature (Tg).
Comparison to the original values showed that all elastomer materials experienced volume expansion and softening when
wetted by the test fuels. The fluorocarbons underwent the least amount of swelling (100%). The level of swelling for each elastomer was higher for the test
fuels containing the alcohol additions. In general, ethanol produced slightly higher swell than the oxygen equivalent level of
isobutanol. When dried, the fluorocarbon specimens were slightly swollen (relative to the baseline values) due to fuel
retention. The NBRs and neoprene exhibited shrinkage and embrittlement associated with the extraction of plasticizers.
SBR also experienced shrinkage (after drying) but its hardness returned to the baseline value. The dried volumes (and
hardness values) of the silicone, SBR and fluorosilicone rubbers closely matched their original values, but the
polyurethane specimen showed degradation with exposure to the test fuels containing ethanol or isobutanol. The DMA
results showed that the test fuels effectively decreased Tg for the fluorocarbons, but increased Tg for the NBR materials.
The Tg values other elastomers were not affected by the test fuels.

Michael Kass
Contact Person
Tim Theiss
Contact Organization
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Contact Email
Bioenergy Category
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Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.