What’s So Great About Fuel Additives? More Than You Think.

Justin Christensen |

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Just about everything we use these days contains additives. In processed foods, some are used as sweeteners, flavor and color enhancers, or to preserve shelf life. In beauty products, they can add color, scent and foam. Additives are even found in vaccines, functioning as suspending fluid, preservatives and stabilizers.

So, how about fuel?

In fuel, additives are chemicals that are mixed with petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel that are designed to impart or enhance specific properties. Some of the most common pertain to:

  • Deposit Control
  • Combustion
  • Corrosion
  • Antioxidants
  • Dyes and markers
  • Lubricity
  • Cold flow
  • Stability
  • Anti-foam
  • Anti-icing

The three prime reasons fuel additives are used are to improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and improve engine performance. However, their use is also becoming more prevalent with increasing environmental regulations, greater demand for cleaner and higher efficiency fuel, depleting crude reserves and newer formulations of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel, unleaded and aviation fuel, all of which require more additives. 

As part of the Clean Air Act with the US Environmental Protection Agency, all fuel additives being manufactured for commercial distribution and used in highway motor vehicles must be registered. Combustion and evaporate emissions analyses as well as scientific information and screening tests are part of the registration application. The data is then used to identify any products that may pose a risk to public health.

All fuel additives perform differently, but how they work and their benefits go hand in hand. Here are some of the featured advantages:

Fuel Efficiency

  • Better engine performance
  • Disperse water content
  • Cleans injectors
  • Increase cetane value
  • Improves lubricity
  • Prevents oxidation
  • Increase power
  • Saves fuel and money

Reduce Emissions

  • Fuel additives and liquid catalysts have been shown to reduce exhaust emissions such as nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide by as much as 45 per cent or more.

Engine Performance

  • Eliminates carbon deposits on valves and pistons, increasing horsepower
  • Assist in keeping fuel system and injectors free of debris
  • Inhibits corrosion
  • Run more smoothly, reducing engine noise
  • Improves fuel lubricity, reducing heat and friction, allowing aging engines to maintain lubrication requirements with modern fuels
  • Extends time between service schedules, reducing costs
  • Makes cold weather starts easier
  • Decreases downtime for engine repairs
  • Lowers internal combustion temperature, extending engine life

What’s Your Type?

Whether you fuel up with gasoline or diesel will determine what type of additive might be most important for your vehicle. One example is Chevron’s “Techron” additive for gasoline. As it cleans injectors and reduces deposits, it improves fuel economy. Many customers who consistently fuel up with Chevron gasoline claim they have never needed to have their fuel injectors cleaned. Shell is also seeing the same results with their “V-Power” product.

For diesel engines, a prime concern is lubricity. As part of emissions control, the sulfur content, which is diesel’s main source of lubricity, has decreased over the years from 500 ppm to less than 15 ppm. As a result, many fleets have experienced a drop in fuel economy and seepage from seals. Additives such as “Power Service” (available from your fuel distributor) improve lubricity and cetane, thereby increasing engine longevity, performance and fuel economy. Walmart has seen an increase in fuel economy of more than 1% after using this product in their fleet.

Selecting to Save

The use of fuel additives contributes to significant savings, especially for engine operators and fleet owners. There are a multitude of brands and products, so how will you choose what’s best?  Well, the advice of some suppliers might be to know your formulations, know their applications, know your parts, know your technology and know your choices. You could do your homework in all of those areas.

Or – you could just know your fuel distributor. That’s precisely what they do and you’re the reason they’re in business. You can trust their professionals and their expertise – two additives your business shouldn’t go without.