EPA Compliance For Portable Fuel Components – What You Should Know

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Effective January 1, 2011, the U.S. EPA began requiring that all portable fuel systems manufactured for use with gasoline-powered marine engines in the U.S. produce zero evaporative emissions.

What does that mean for you?

If you don’t yet need to upgrade your portable fuel tank or system, you don’t have to. The regulations apply only to the sale of new portable fuel tanks and components involving gasoline powered marine engines. They don’t apply to fuel systems used with diesel or propane powered motors.

However, if you have a gasoline-powered engine, here are some important things you should know before you upgrade your fuel system.

The New Portable Fuel Containers and Systems Are Fully Sealed.

All portable fuel containers manufactured and sold after January 1, 2011, must be sealed fully to prevent gas vapors from venting into the atmosphere.

As a result, these new multi-layered fuel tanks are designed to prevent the release of hydrocarbons through the tank walls, causing pressure from gas vapors to build up inside the tank. So, when you notice that your tank appears to be swollen, it’s not your imagination. The swelling is normal, and the tanks are engineered to accommodate this pressure and the resulting expansion.

Also, all of the new fuel caps have an automatically closing vent, a tether that keeps the cap attached to the fuel tank, as well as a feature that produces a “click” when you’ve turned the cap sufficiently so that you’ll know when the tank is closed.

Although these new systems are good for the environment, they have created some issues that you need to be aware of.

Without Proper Equipment, Your Engine Can Flood.

If you buy a complete new portable fuel system, your new system will have everything you need right out of the box.

However, if you’re upgrading an older fuel tank, you may not have the equipment you need to keep your engine from flooding. Because the new tanks are sealed, once you hook your new gas tank up to your engine, the pressure that builds up inside the fuel tank has nowhere to go except through the fuel line and into your engine, causing flooding.

To avoid this problem, you’ll need a Fuel Demand Valve. Developed specifically to mitigate this issue, these valves sit along the fuel line between the fuel tank and the primer bulb. They prevent engine flooding by stopping the flow of fuel unless there is a demand from the engine. Because they keep unwanted pressurized fuel from entering your engine, they also help your engine to run more smoothly.

These valves are compatible with all of the new EPA-compliant fuel tanks, and you can buy them individually or as part of a complete fuel line assembly that includes 1) an EPA-compliant, low-permeation fuel hose; 2) an EPA-compliant, multi-layered primer bulb; and 3) another essential component of the new, environmentally friendly fuel systems – a Sprayless Connector. More about that next.

Avoiding Fuel “Spit Back”

Because today’s portable fuel systems are under pressure, fuel can spray when the pressurized hoses are connected and disconnected from fuel tanks during refueling or maintenance. EPA regulations require no fuel spillage or spit back.

That’s where sprayless connectors come in. Designed to fit any fuel system and equipped with check valves that close instantly if accidentally bumped or when disconnected, they replace old-style fuel tank fittings to prevent release of fuel and vapors. As with fuel demand valves, you’ll find them online or in stores, sold individually or as part of the new, compliant fuel line assemblies.

The Bottom (Fuel) Line

Although these new EPA-compliant fuel systems and components will cost you more than their outdated counterparts, they’ll keep your fuel in your tank instead of allowing it to evaporate, spray or spill. And, because of that, they should save you money in the long run.

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