Shrieve Business Development Manager, Ian Bennett tells it how it really is when it comes to fuel additives.
Recently I have been joined in the New Business Development team by two colleagues, and it did not take long until I was asked the question, ‘does it really matter which fuel additive I use?’.
Despite talking to many people about the benefits of fuel additives, it dawned on me that if my colleagues (who have worked with me for 2 years) are unsure about the benefits of specific fuel additives, then this question is almost certainly unanswered for pretty much everyone else.
So, let us break this down.
Different fuels, different properties
There are several types of fuels used in vehicles: Gasoline (petrol), diesel, electric. LPG, Hydrogen. A non-hybrid Electric vehicle sits outside of this question and LPG and Hydrogen vehicles are still exceedingly rare, so that leaves us with just gasoline and diesel for this discussion.
So, are gasoline and diesel the same? Anyone who has ever mis-fuelled at a service station will tell you they clearly are not! Gasoline is a light fraction removed from crude oil in the hydrocracking process whereas diesel is a heavier fraction. They have quite different properties; gasoline is very combustible, and diesel is extremely hard to ignite. What this means is that there are differences between these two fuels so logically one cannot expect the same additive to work equally well in both fuels. We all live in the real world not a utopian one.
Can it be as simple as just two additives: one for gasoline and another for diesel?
In a utopian world this would be the case. But in our more complex and technologically advanced motoring world, we now need to consider the changes in the design of both gasoline and diesel engines.
In my early driving days a car had a choke and 30-miles per gallon was considered fantastic. The gasoline car was powered by a port filled engine; whereas the modern version uses a direct injection engine and delivers 45 to 55 miles per gallon.
A diesel car used to sound like a tank, had a common rail system and, whilst it delivered more miles per gallon than gasoline, it was a dirty and pungent smelling fuel. The modern diesel vehicle is fast and highly efficient, using direct injectors delivering up to 80-miles per gallon.
In short, the engines have changed massively in both gasoline and diesel vehicles. Logically, the chemicals needed to keep everything running efficiently need to be different too. What worked on a port filled engine may not work on a direct injection system and vice versa.
The ‘minimum standard’ fuel is just that, minimum.
In Europe and the UK, the standards for fuels have largely remained unchanged for 20+ years. EN 228 and EN 590 have been the European standards for gasoline and diesel respectively and despite the changes in engines these standards have remained as the minimum standards a fuel must meet. I repeat the words ‘minimum standards’ as that is exactly what you buy if you buy fuel untreated with additional Fuel Additives.
Most of large fuel supplying companies in Europe do treat their fuels. But they all treat with different additives and at different rates; The consumer will rarely, if ever, know how much they are paying for the extra additive. More importantly, they will never know if the additives are working across the entire path that the fuel travels within the vehicle!
- Does the fuel keep injectors clean?
- Does the fuel keep the fuel lines clean?
- Does the additive negatively react with the component materials in the engine?
These questions – and others like them – are more complex than you might first think.
Different fuel, different fuel additive results
Depending on which fuel brand you buy you will have different results. One brand may not perform well in the injections, and another may not be suitable for a port filled older vehicle. Just as engines have evolved, so have the additives used in the fuels.
To cover the different variables of engine types, an array of additives potentially would be required, and that is simply not viable as it places too great a responsibility on the average motorist.
Fuel additives – the solution
The best solution is to find an additive that has been evaluated and is proven as effective in all diesel types or all gasoline types. There are several in the marketplace in Europe. Most are sold in service stations but there is a premium price attached to them. Others, such as Progiline FA-D and Progiline FA-G can be purchased directly and later added to standard EN 228 gasoline or EN 590 diesel.
The costs are half the cost of paying for additive at a Service Station and the reduction in fuel consumption more than pays for the cost of the additive purchased. Also, as less fuel is consumed there are fewer emissions to impact climate change.