E10 state of play

CHOICE looks at the pros and cons of biofuels such as ethanol.
Learn more

03.E10 at the bowser - what is what?

With so many fuels now available, decoding all the letters and numbers on a petrol bowser can be a baffling exercise. Where E10 is available, there are a number of different brands you may come across when filling up your vehicle.

E10 petrol is uniformly blended with ethanol at 10% as a standard unleaded petrol, and there are also a few premium E10 fuels with higher octane ratings. A vehicle engine has an octane requirement for petrol that is expressed as a number. This refers to the ignition requirements for the engine and represents the engine’s resistance to pre-ignition.

Standard unleaded petrol is classified as “91 RON” (with RON standing for “research octane number”), which is the resistance rating for that fuel. E10 is never lower than 91 RON, but can be slightly higher at 93 RON or 94 RON, depending on how the ethanol is blended into the petrol.

Premium unleaded petrol, known as “PULP”, is not blended with ethanol and is available as 95 RON, suitable for many European cars, and 98 RON, also known as ultra premium (“UPULP”). There is a limited number of premium E10 petrols that you may be able to choose if your vehicle needs petrol with a 95 or 98 octane rating.

Otherwise, it’s not necessary to use petrol with a higher RON or octane rating for your vehicle as it won’t provide any additional power or fuel efficiency.

Some boating groups are against E10, because boat engines can be damaged if ethanol-based fuel comes into contact with water. Check with the manufacturer of other equipment, such as lawnmowers, edgers and chainsaws, about using biofuel in their motors.


Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.


E10 around the major service stations

  • BP sells E10 in NSW and Qld. Known as BP Unleaded 91, the fuel includes both cleansing and anti-corrosion agents, claims the company. 
  • Caltex sells Bio E10 Unleaded at service stations in NSW, ACT, Qld and Vic. Caltex also has a petrol called Bio E-Flex that uses 85% ethanol, available in metro service stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide. It is not an E10 petrol and is only suitable for certain cars. 
  • Woolworths sells Caltex Bio E10 at service stations in NSW, Qld and ACT. It claims regular unleaded can be mixed with E10. 
  • Mobil sells Unleaded E10 in NSW, ACT and parts of Qld, but has no definite plans for expanding E10 in other states. 
  • Neumann Petroleum sells E-Gen Unleaded 95 and E-Gen Premium 98 blended with 10% ethanol in NSW and Qld. 
  • Shell sells Unleaded E10 at service stations in NSW, Qld, ACT and Vic. Shell Unleaded E10 is also available at some Coles Express service stations along the east coast of Australia. 
  • United Petroleum sells Plus ULP (95 octane fuel blended with 10% ethanol) in NSW, Qld, NT, SA and Vic. It also sells Boost 98 (98 octane with 10% ethanol) in NSW and Premium 100 (100 octane with 10% ethanol) in NSW, SA and Vic. 
  • Freedom Fuels sells E10 Unleaded 95, E10 Hi Octane 98 and E10 Premium Unleaded at service stations in NSW and Qld, and plans to expand into Vic.

Number crunch

  • E10 is available from more than 600 petrol stations around the country.
  • Australia consumed 18,900,000,000 litres of fuel in 2008.
  • E10 produces 33% less carbon emissions than regular petrol.

More information

NSW government www.biofuels.nsw.gov.au

QLD governmennt www.ethanol.qld.gov.au

Biofuels Association www.biofuelsassociation.com.au

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries www.fcai.com.au/publications/all/all/all/3/can-my-vehicle-operate-on-ethanol-blend-petrol-

Federal Government Biofuels Information www.daff.gov.au/natural-resources/biofuelsbio-energy

Fuel prices http://motormouth.com.au

Holden/Caltext Ethanol Information www.ethanolanswers.com.au

NSW Maritime Authority informatoin on biofuels www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/rec_boating/biofuels.html

Your say - Choice voice

Make a Comment

Members – Sign in on the top right to contribute to comments