During the last decade, major advances have occurred in the manufacturing of diesel engines, mostly to keep up with stringent emissions standards set by the EPA.
Along with Ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), highly complex fuel injectors, high pressure common rails, and after-treatment devices, we have been able to reduce CO2, NOx PM, increase horsepower and reduce fuel consumption. Throughput this evolution of the diesel engine and after-treatment devices, diesel fuel has changed but not in the right direction.
Removing sulfur and adding biodiesel seem to make sense for the environment but not for the engine. All it saw was a loss in performance and quality.
From the first few barrels of crude refined in the late 1800’s to the 20 million barrels consumed in the USA daily, distillate oil is still the same complex, organic compound it was back in 1876. Active compounds, distillate fuels are still subject to aging, degradation and contamination. So despite technological advances in engine and application technology, diesel fuel remains one of the weak links in the overall system reliability.
End-users need to take a more pro-active approach to seeking better quality fuels from their suppliers. Rack injected additives that do meet “Premium” standards can deliver improved lubricity, stability, cold weather operability and improved combustion. These superior fuels will help reduce maintenance, maintain fuel system cleanliness and even contribute to improved fuel economy especially if used year round.
Traditionally, fuel users have purchased fuel specifically on price despite the need for cleaner and better quality fuels required by the OEM’s whose engines have advanced significantly while ASTM standards have not.