BRP, Volvo-Penta and Indmar will participate in testing butanol-extended fuel (isobutanol) this week with the Argonne National Laboratory. The three engine manufacturers are part of a program organized by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office to test the new fuel as a possible source for marine engines, instead of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15).

The tests, which started this week, come after the US EPA last year granted a waiver for E15 in the nation’s fuel supply. Industry test data shows that E15 can cause significant damage to marine engines. A separate study last year concluded that isobutanol was “a promising alternative fuel” for marine engines.

“Gasoline with 10 percent ethanol (E10) is still an acceptable fuel for marine engines, including BRP's Evinrude outboard engines, but isobutanol, which has a higher energy content than ethanol, could be a viable alternative to E15,” said Jeff R. Wasil, Engineering Technical Expert for Emissions Testing, Certification and Regulatory Development at BRP, in a statement. “Isobutanol represents a unique opportunity for BRP, and the entire marine industry, to be at the forefront of innovation in alternative fuels.”

The tests will include multiple types of recreational marine inboard and outboard engines in both laboratory settings and on-water trials to determine the effects of butanol-extended fuel on engine power, performance, emissions and overall durability. Phase one of the isobutanol testing on the water takes place this week in Annapolis, Maryland. Phase two is planned for later in 2012.