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Diesel Fuel Additives – Are they worth adding to your tank?

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diesel fuel onlyDiesel Fuel Additives – Are they worth it?

With very little searching on the internet, it is possible to come across hundreds of adverts for people offering diesel fuel additives with supposed benefits ranging from easier start-ups to increased mileage.

There are additives for diesel fuel specifically, and those that better target petroleum. This article will focus on diesel fuel and will talk about any benefits or problems that can occur when using diesel fuel additives – whether that is on the environment, your car or your wallet.

Additives and the environment:

There are many claims that diesel fuel additives will help make any emissions caused by diesel fuel much cleaner and less harmful to the environment. Some additives are Oxygenates which may reduce the quantity of carbon monoxide emitted by your vehicle, as well as particulate matter and other oxides. This benefit comes from a more complete combustion occurring in the vehicle’s engine.

Additives as cleaners or stabilisers:

Diesel fuel has been known to cause the build-up of carbon deposits, especially in diesel injectors. Many additives work to reduce these deposits and generally clean the engine. Normally, this action is not necessary, especially not as regularly as some suppliers would recommend. Your engine is never going to be more fuel-efficient than its specification allows, so it is wise to be cautious when deciding whether to purchase diesel fuel additives.environment fuel add

Fuel stabilisers aim to keep fuel from ageing badly and going stale. Vehicle performance can be impacted by this – though it is only a concern if you use your vehicle infrequently.

Additives for improved mileage:

Diesel fuel additives often focus on improving fuel efficiency and mileage. The only time that this seems to be the case is if an inferior quality diesel fuel is being used. In these cases, adding additives that can increase the BTU (British Thermal Unit) up to the level of high quality diesel fuels may result in greater mileage. The question is – are you saving money in buying the additives to add to poorer quality fuel rather than just buying high quality fuel to begin with?

There is a lot of information on the web about Acetone being a good diesel fuel additive. It is supposed to increase fuel efficiency, engine life, performance, all whilst reducing emissions. It sounds a bit too good to be true. There are many anecdotes reviewing the use of this kind of additive – with people vouching for and against it. In some cases, it has been thought to be the cause of leaks within the fuel lines.


In Summary:

Due to the contrasting nature of diesel fuel additive reviews and information, I think it is wise to take any claims about them with a pinch of salt. It may be true that some additives have been proven to increase fuel efficiency, but the conditions under which these tests were conducted may be very different to your own circumstances.

Bear in mind that additives are not going to solve underlying problems with your vehicle that may require a trip to the mechanic or new parts. As the name suggests, diesel fuel additives are to be used (if at all) as an extra something, and not as a substitute for good care and good quality diesel fuel.


Biodiesel – what's all the fuss about?

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Biodiesel – harnessing power from the soil below our feet

Why Biodiesel?
Rising levels of air pollution and their consequences have led to much concern about reducing fuel emissions.
Other than improved combustion in vehicles, the possibility of using fuel that leads to less carbon emissions has also been explored.
One of the options that has showed promising results is biodiesel.

biodiesel, alternative to fossil fuel

Biodiesel is renewable

What is Biodiesel?
In simplest terms biodiesel can be described as an environment-friendly fuel that leads to less harmful emissions.
It is made from oils extracted from plants and animals like rapeseed, soy, flax, algae, palm oil and so on.
Blended with diesel, it can be used without making any special modifications to existing diesel engines.
Biodiesel can also be used singly as fuel without changes to diesel engine designs.

Fossil fuels are not carbon neutral
Fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, diesel, natural gas, on the other hand,  are naturally formed over centuries from the remains of prehistoric animals and plants and so on.
Thus it goes without saying that these are limited in availability as against biodiesel which can be made from harvested crops.

biodiesel, fossil fuel diesel, diesel

Carbon Matters

Bio-diesel is cleaner diesel
But the major difference between the two is the impact that they have on the environment.
Diesel fuel is a leading culprit of carbon dioxide emissions along with sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
However biodiesel gives out considerably less carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, with no sulphur dioxide at all.
This makes them more environment friendly though the amount of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere is same for diesel and biodiesel.
We all know that we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

This colorless gas is also emitted during combustion of fuel, generation of power, decay of organic material and volcano eruptions.
It is found in the atmosphere in low volumes and helps to maintain the needed temperatures for survival of life on earth.
The problem arises when increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to a rise in global temperatures.

Carbon dioxide or CO2 is described as a greenhouse gas because it absorbs heat and infra red rays from the sun and then releases them into  the atmosphere instead of letting it escape to space.
Unfortunately human activities have contributed to higher carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. This in turn has led to higher temperatures and global warming.

Nature has its own way of balancing out and traditionally excess carbon dioxide has been eliminated from the atmosphere through photosynthesis by plants and by absorption into oceans.
Some scientisits say  carbon dioxide emissions today far exceed nature’s capacity to remove it from the atmosphere. Thus, they argue, it is up to humans to make conscious efforts to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Among the several methods that can be used to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is planting more trees, arresting deforestation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon neutral – what’s that about then?    Is Biodiesel carbon neutral?

Since a major portion of carbon emissions comes from combustion of fuel by diesel engines, a lot of emphasis is placed on fuel that is carbon neutral.
Carbon neutral does not mean that it does not release any carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It simply means that we try to eliminate at least the same amount of carbon dioxide as we set free in the atmosphere.

So how is biodiesel carbon neutral?
Biodiesel is made from crops which means that though on the one hands it releases carbon dioxide when it is burnt.
But on the other hand, the plants that are grown as crops to make biodiesel remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Thus, it gets balanced out.

Biodiesel may be a better option as far as the environment is concerned but a major concern for car owners is what effect does it have on a diesel engine. Biodiesel that is made to professional standards is as good as ordinary diesel. In fact, it acts as a cleaning agent and any dirt left in the engine by petro diesel will be cleaned out. There is one modification that has to be made and that is remove rubber parts that come in contact with biodiesel as it dissolves them. They can be replaced with synthetic rubber or teflon parts.

In all, biodiesel has come up as a great alternative to diesel and diesel engine manufacturers today have begun to offer the same warranty for their products regardless of whether consumers use diesel or bio-diesel.