For the average car owner, the phrase “flex-fuel” probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. Some understand what it means and take advantage of the cheaper prices of E85 fuel, but for performance enthusiasts, the phrase means cheap race gas, and Advanced Fuel Dynamics is making it easier for enthusiasts to enjoy the power-improvement potential that comes with using E85.
Just as nitrous oxide became known as the poor man’s power adder, E85 has become the poor man’s race gas, as it offers an improved octane rating up to 114, but at regular pump-gas prices. And with E85 availability increasing every day, it’s easy to understand why it is becoming so popular with performance-minded enthusiasts.
Much like pump gas, the exact mixture of E85 varies greatly from station to station and from season to season. According to Fueleconomy.gov, the actual percentage of ethanol can be anywhere from 51 to 83 percent! There are products like VP Racing Fuels’ C85 ethanol fuel, which will ensure you get a consistent and exact blend, but most enthusiasts will lean towards the convenience of driving to the local station to fill up; not to mention that the consistency and quality of the VP alternative comes at a price similar to high-octane race gasoline.
For most enthusiasts to take advantage of E85, however, they need to have a custom fuel injection calibration and/or fuel system to properly burn it, as E85’s lower energy content means it will require a larger quantity of it. Advanced Fuel Dynamics’ ProFlex Commander performance flex fuel system takes custom tuning out of the equation, and effortlessly handles the variances in E85 by actively sensing and managing any mixture of ethanol and gasoline.
Likely the best part of the ProFlex Commander is that it is a fairly simple plug-and-play installation for most cars. The ProFlex system includes a wiring harness with factory connectors that locate the Commander flex fuel control module between the car’s computer and the fuel injectors. There is one wire for a ground and that’s it as far as electrical connections. On the fuel side, the ProFlex kit includes a flex-fuel sensor and fuel lines that once again use factory-style fittings to integrate the sensor into the stock fuel system.
“For most vehicles, it is a plug and play flex fuel system. There is no tuning, no parts, just plug it in, go down to a pump, put in E85 and drive,” says Advanced Fuel Dynamics Gray Fredrick. “Another nice thing about the system is that it is a true flex-fuel system. If you can’t find E85, you just fill up with gasoline and it takes care of the rest.”
Ford does provide flex-fuel capability in some vehicles, but it uses the wide-band air/fuel ratio sensor to determine what the ratio needs to be for optimum fueling with the different mixtures of fuels, which can take up to 40 miles of driving to adjust. The ProFlex Commander is similar to the GM flex-fuel design in that it utilizes a dedicated sensor that reads the fuel mixture before it even goes into the engine, and then adjusts the injectors accordingly, basically doing the work for the factory ECM quicker and more accurately.
“It’s very smart, and very quick,” Fredrick told us. “We never want to be in a position where it’s not delivering the correct amount of fuel.” Fredrick also noted that the company has some programming that can also compensate for larger injectors that may not be very drivable at low speeds due to their size.
With E85 and its faster expansion rate and faster flame front, performance enthusiasts expect a bump in power output.
“Regarding horsepower on a naturally aspirated car, we’ve seen 7-8 percent more power at the rear wheels and we’ve dyno tested every one of the cars we make a system for,” Fredrick said. “On boosted cars, we see 9-10 percent more power at the rear wheels. Dollars per horsepower, it’s a positive purchase.”
The ProFlex Commander is available for a wide variety of vehicles and for many applications going back to around 1999. It can also be used on LS, GEN3 Hemi and Coyote swaps.
“Modern engines in old cars can benefit. We have an E90 BMW guy with an LS engine running ethanol and it’s the same plug and play process,” Fredrick explained. “We can also work with standalone systems as well, so if you have a Holley EFI or something similar, it will work. As long as we can pick up the parameters from the ECU, it can still take over the fuel management responsibilities.”
We asked Fredrick for a little background information on Advanced Fuel Dynamics, which also sponsors the NMRA’s Limited Street class.
“Ryan Truax is the founder. He’s a Wyotech grad and car nut since he was a little kid. He had a performance shop in California and worked with E85 applications, and saw engines being beaten up because of the varying blends of pump fuels. It’s been about five years since he started Advanced Fuel Dynamics, starting out with BMW and Mercedes/AMG performance flex-fuel applications. Advanced Fuel Dynamics has been focused on domestic applications for the last three years.”
Providing a product that is based on the utilization of E85 fuel does have other benefits as well.
“E85 is a much cleaner burning fuel than gasoline. Carbon particulates are reduced to almost zero andengine temps are significantly reduced. These benefits have led to work with governments on cleaning up emissions outside of the performance side of the business. We’re one of the only companies that marries performance with cleaning up the environment. It’s a nice by-product of what we do,” Fredrick said.
Advanced Fuel Dynamics