Fuel Follow-up: Maybe Additives Have a Place

My last posting was a description of numerous fuel-related issues experienced by many fleets. I sparked some strong debate from a few responders who I respect. The intent of the article was to explore fuel-related issues many fleets suffer from in the deep chill of winter. Most want to use fuel gelling of fuel as the excuse to explain the $1000 tow bill on the invoice and the rent for the service bay to thaw out the vehicle, or to explain a late load to a mad customer threatening to switch carriers and deflect the HEAT from the bosses.

Most of those replies addressed my discussion about blending of kerosene below a certain temperature, and my observation that northern US and Canada seem to have their formulas together. I believe that somehow they have figured out how to operate trucks in the deep freeze. I didn’t mean to imply we in the US don’t know how to do that, but rather that there are many fleets that do need to know what to do and to stop using GELLING as the excuse.

Here’s the eloquent comment from the Additive Guy on my original post:

Third, there is NEVER "... a point you need kerosene." Kerosene has less BTU (heat energy) Content so it will result in significantly less fuel economy/MPG mileage, it is very dry so it does not lubricate the fuel system adequately and it is much more expensive than diesel fuel.
PLUS, kerosene blending in today's diesel fuels is not like it used to be. In fact, our lab testing of four typical diesel fuels indicates the fuel CFPP (Cold Filter Plugging Point - the temperature at which a fuel filter is likely to plug up because of paraffin wax) will only be lowered by 0 to 3 degrees F with 10% kerosene, 5 to 6 degrees F with 20% kerosene and 7 to 11 degrees F with 30% kerosene blends. These CFPP reductions will NOT materially improve the engine operability in cold weather (and the cost to blend those percentages of kerosene will be large.

In Summary

The intend of my article was not a strike against additives. But those who know me know I am not an additive guy. I know that at some point additives do work to a certain degree and that USLD fuel is much different than the 500 ppm diesel sulfated fuel we used to use. That change in the chemical makeup has altered how we manage fuel and keep trucks on the road during these spells of arctic cool downs.  Although I do agree to a point with the above comments and certainly have respect for the writer, I have yet to see any fuel additive company step up to the plate and pay for all the costs that go along with the fuel related breakdowns the additive advertisements say they are supposed to prevent. Maybe they do work at the temperature stated, but 11 degrees lower and 30% kero in my opinion is the safest play. As a fleet manager I would be willing to convert my positions of the term snake oil liquids if any additive company wants to back their products with the green, and that isn’t ALGAE.

The fact is I have not experienced the pour point claims of the fuel companies’ pour point testing, nor shared the fleets’ pains. That’s why I suggest paying the price for success and on time deliveries despite lower fuel economy.

 The intent of my article was for the readers to look deeper into what is really the cause of their winter fuel problems. GELLING is the easiest answer to accept, but it is not acceptable. The problem is often maintenance of the truck or the fuel itself. It is the wax or ice crystals, and seldom if at all GELLING.

Thank you for the responses. It brings another level of awareness to the problem.   I have never seen a presentation or discussion as deep as this at TMC. That’s something we need to do.

TAGS: News Equipment
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