Re-Thinking Fuel Additives: Making Them an Integral Part of Fuel Production

Fuel additives, or compounds which change the chemical makeup of gasoline or diesel fuel, are already familiar to most people.

Racing enthusiasts know about fuel performance additives used by racing car drivers to improve their 0-60 time. People who live in cold climates and drive diesel engines use an additive to stop fuel from congealing, and when leaded petrol was phased out, drivers of older models used a lead petrol additive to ensure the fuel matched their engine type. Other fuel additives help clean the engine, preserve the “shelf life” of fuel when it’s stored for a long time, or increase mileage per gallon.

Additives can be applied by fuel providers and gas station owners to enhance all the fuel offered for sale, removing the need for consumers to buy and add them separately. To some extent, this is already a reality, with many fuel stations selling high-octane fuels alongside regular petrol and diesel options. Those more expensive fuels are simply regular fuels with specific additives already added by the gas station owners.

But fuel additives have the potential to do far more than improve car performance or stabilize fuel. At a time when the impact of fossil fuels on both climate change and public health are once again at the forefront of general conversation, it’s wise to reexamine the contribution that fuel additives can make, and consider ways to use them to reduce the harm of automotive fuel.

Fuel emissions create a world of hurt

The developed world, especially the US and Western Europe, is addicted to cars. In the US alone, drivers consume 378 million gallons of gasoline every day, and keep 253 million vehicles on the roads for an average daily commute of 54 minutes per person. The gasoline used for all these journeys produces emissions that have a terrible impact on our health, and are a major source of chemicals responsible for global warming.

Gasoline-powered vehicles, whether they use petrol or diesel fuel, emit multiple harmful chemicals including carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, benzene, particulate matter, and unburnt hydrocarbons. Carbon dioxide is a significant greenhouse gas, while carbon monoxide is a poison that prevents oxygen absorption in the body. Approximately 430 Americans die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning

Particulate matter is made up of tiny particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs and pass into the bloodstream, carrying harmful compounds with them. Hundreds of thousands of people and animals die prematurely each year because of particulate matter. Both particulate matter and hydrocarbons can be carcinogenic, harm the skin, and contribute to heart disease and auto-immune disorders.

Benzene is another carcinogenic emission that is toxic to plants and aquatic life; sulfur dioxide can damage the lungs and destroy rivers and waterways; and nitrogen dioxide causes acid rain, weakens the respiratory system, and can convert into a corrosive and oxidizing gas if it’s heated above 21°C.

In terms of direct impact on human health, the WHO concludes that “about 100 000 premature adult deaths attributable to air pollution occur each year in the WHO European Region. Emissions from road traffic account for a significant share of this burden.”

Millions more people die every year as a result of extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, floods, avalanches, heatwaves, and drought, caused by climate change in which transportation plays a significant role.

Fuel additives can help mitigate the disaster

Against this backdrop, there is some good news. Simple fuel additives like FuelGems can turn ordinary petrol and diesel into fuels that are far cleaner and produce lower emissions. Gas station owners, petrol companies, and the owners of large fleets with on-site refueling stations can buy additives in bulk and add them to the fuel before sending it to distributors or filling tanks.

“If additives are needed, it should be done at the fuel supplier terminal,” says John Moore, PowerTrain product marketing manager for Volvo Trucks, North America. It’s more effective and efficient this way, reducing the risk that drivers will forget to use them, helping ensure additives are used correctly, and lowering the chances that consumers will balk at the modest price increase. FuelGems fuel additive adds only 2 cents to a gallon of fuel, a price rise that would barely be noticed at the pump.

FuelGems fuel additive is made up of nanoparticles that dissolve in gasoline or solvent to directly change the way an internal combustion engine impacts the environment. With this addition, fuel consumption drops by 8%, carbon dioxide emission by 8%, carbon monoxide by 15%, particulate matter drops by 6%, and unburnt hydrocarbons fall by 50%. In this way, the same tank of gas causes less damage on the environment and to public health, without requiring anyone to change their habits.

Electric cars are not enough

Pinning your hopes on the electric vehicle market as a solution would be a mistake. A McKinsey report found that electric vehicle sales have slowed dramatically in the last year or so, stating that “EV sales rose 65 percent from 2017 to 2018 (Exhibit 1). But in 2019, the number of units sold increased only to 2.3 million, from 2.1 million, for year-on-year growth of just 9 percent. Equally sobering, EV sales declined by 25 percent during the first quarter of 2020.”

In an ideal world, would be entirely using electric vehicles and higher-density public transportation, which results in lower emissions per passenger. But we’re not in an ideal world. By 2050, it’s estimated that 66-77% of all vehicles will still be powered by diesel or gasoline.

Waiting for electric vehicles to save the planet at that rate will take a very long time.

This is due to two reasons. 1. Slow adoption of electric cars 2. Electricity comes from fossil fuels, needs to come 100% from renewable, and god knows how long this will take.

Electric cars are as clean as the electricity they use. USA electricity mix is coal 30%, natural gas 34%, nuclear 20%. Electric cars use electricity of which the majority (60%+) comes from fossil fuels.

Fuel additives are an immediate solution that can significantly reduce degradation of the planet and help preserve the environment and human health over the next several decades.

Living in a Fuel Efficient Future

Fuel-efficient vehicles have become increasingly popular with consumers in recent years as fluctuations in fuel prices and environmental concerns serve only to highlight the necessity for new technologies capable of dealing with these pressing issues. Whilst some of the ideas such as reducing the overall drag and weight of vehicles are more obvious to consumers, it is the combination of such advances with the use of new fuel technologies which is likely to make the most impact. With that in mind, here are the three main technologies which manufacturers are relying on to usher in a new age of fuel efficiency:

Hybrid vehicles

Manufacturers such as Toyota have seen sales of their hybrid vehicles exceeding initial expectations as people respond to the convenience and familiarity of a car which opts to combine the savings of an electric cell with the convenience and reliance of a more traditional internal combustion engine. High profile celebrity purchases have seen the acceptance of cars such as the Toyota Prius growing at a steady rate, with hybrids now making up nearly half of all Toyota’s sales in Japan.

All-electric vehicles

Vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf are starting to offer a more attractive version of all-electric battery powered technology which has previously been criticised for the low mileage achievable between charges. This, coupled with the difficulty of locating appropriate charging stations has meant uptake of electric vehicles has been relatively slow amongst the general population, although sales have improved in recent years.

Fuel Cell Vehicles

Although the technology is still currently in its infancy, the next two to three years will see the introduction of the first truly viable fuel cell vehicles available to the public. Just like the battery-powered electric vehicles that are currently on the market , these are driven by electric motors, but uniquely, they utilise a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate their power, thus eliminating the use for any reliance on fossil fuels. Expectations for the technology are high as vehicles running on such cells will dramatically reduce emissions, as well as being exceedingly cheap to operate.

What all this means is that there is an increasingly diverse range of options available for those drivers looking to invest in the future of the planet whilst hopefully driving down the cost of motoring at the same time. Technological advances are often driven by necessity and it is clear that with the increasing visibility of electric, hybrid (and soon fuel cell) vehicles, the requirement to produce cars that can be run cheaply, and without causing damage to the environment is only set to increase.

Buying More Fuel Thanks to Lower Prices? Probably Not

Remember last spring and summer, when the price of gasoline seemed to hit a new record high with each passing day?  We were worried gas was soon going to become too expensive for us to commute to and from work, and we would have to choose between filling up our tanks or filling up our stomachs.

In an effort to help keep our budgets balanced, many of us cut back on our discretionary driving, only filled up our tanks half way, used public transportation more, and even gave up our our cars and trucks for bicycles and walking shoes.

Seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?

Since hitting a record high of $4.12 per gallon back in mid-July, the price of gasoline has fallen nearly 60%, and now stands at $1.68 per gallon.  The last time the price of gasoline was this low was back in April 2004.

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Fuel Economy Log Weeks 25 – 37

Needless to say, I have been very laid back when it has come publishing my fuel economy logs.  I’ve received a couple of emails from people asking me if I’ve stopped publishing the logs because I’ve started to get worse gas mileage and I didn’t want to seem like a hypocrite.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case.  I’m still getting great gas mileage and the only explanation is that I’ve been too lazy to translate my data to words.  So now that I have a lazy Sunday afternoon to myself, I thought it would be a great idea to go ahead and update my fuel economy logs.

Over the past four months I have driven 7,212.70 miles, used 221.22 gallons of gas and paid, on average, $2.20 per gallon, all of which adds up to an average fuel economy of 32.60 miles per gallon, which is about 12.43% higher than my car’s usual average.

This 12.43% increase in gas mileage equates to a savings of roughly $.27 per gallon, which over the past four months has equated to a total savings of $60.48, which is enough for about two fill ups.

When I combine my four month savings with my prior 24 weeks savings, I’ve saved $175.98 over the past three-quarters of a year.  And considering gas prices are only going to continue to go up, this number should continue to drastically increase.

Fuel Economy Log Weeks 23 & 24

Since I haven’t been too diligent in keeping up with my Fuel Economy Logs, I’ve got to make up for two weeks – so here we go:

During week 23, I drove 358.9 miles, used 10.943 gallons of gas, and paid $2.20 per gallon, all of which adds up to an average fuel economy of 32.80 mpg, about 13.1% better than my car’s usual average.

This 13.1% increase equates to a $.29 per gallon savings, which on this particular fill up amounts to a total savings of $3.17.

During week 24, I drove 372.2 miles, used 11.02 gallons and paid $2.16 per gallon, all of which adds up to an average fuel economy of 33.77 mpg, roughly 16.4% better than my car’s usual average.

This 16.4% increase equates to a per gallon savings of $.36, which adds up to a total savings of $3.97 on this particular fill up.

When I combine the two weeks’ savings with my previous 22 week savings, my 24 week savings comes out to $115.50.  Not too shabby.

Fuel Economy Log – Week 22

This past week I drove 365.5 miles, used 11.031 gallons of gas and paid $2.20 per gallon, all of which equates to a gas mileage of 33.13 mpg, which is 14.25% higher than my car’s average gas mileage.

This 14.25% increase represents a per gallon savings of roughly $.31, which ultimately ended up saving me $3.46 on this particular tank of gas.

Combining this week’s savings with my previous 21 week total, I have now saved $108.36, which is enough to pay for about four fill ups.  For just changing a few of my driving habits, that’s not a bad deal!

Fuel Economy Log – Week 21

This past week I drove 333.5 miles, used 9.84 gallons of gas and paid $2.26 per gallon, all of which equates to an average fuel economy of 33.89 mpg, 16.86% above my car’s typical gas mileage.

This 16.86% gas mileage increase, which equates to a per gallon savings of roughly $.38.  Since I used 9.84 gallons of gas, I was able to save $3.75 on this particular fill up.

Combining this week’s savings with my previous 20 week total, I have now saved $104.90 on gas.  Not bad.

Fuel Economy Log – Week 20

This past week I drove 339 miles, used 10.317 gallons of gas and paid $2.34 per gallon, all of which adds up to an average fuel economy of 32.85 miles per gallon or 13.3% above my car’s average gas mileage.

This 13.3% increase equates to a per gallon savings of $.31, which saved me roughly $3.21 on this particular fill up.

Combining this week’s savings with my previous 19 week total, I have finally broken the $100 mark and have now saved $101.15 on gas.  This puts me on pace to save over $260 on gas this year.

Not bad!

Fuel Economy Log – Week 19

This week was action packed full of driving, so I’ve broken this week’s Fuel Economy Log in to two parts:

Part 1 – I drove 359.7 miles, used 9.886 gallons of gas and paid $2.42 per gallon, all of which equates to a fuel economy 36.38 miles per gallon, which is 25.4% above my car’s average. 

This 25.4% increase in gas mileage equates to a savings of $.61 per gallon, or $6.03 for this fill up.

Part 2 – I drove 363.4 miles, used 10.033 gallons and paid $2.46 per gallon, all of which equates to a fuel economy of 36.22 miles per gallon, which is 24.9% above my car’s average.

This 24.9% increase in gas mileage equates to a per gallon savings of $.61, which saved me $6.15 on this particular fill up.

Combining the two savings with my previous 18 week total, I have now saved $97.94 on gas, which puts me on pace to save nearly $270 on gas this year.

Fuel Economy Log – Week 18

This past week I drove 305.1 miles, used 9.563 gallons and paid 2.60 per gallon, all of which adds up to an average fuel economy of 31.90 mpg or 10% above my car’s average gas mileage.

This 10% increase equates to a savings of roughly $.26 per gallon, which saved me $2.49 on this particular fill up.

Combining this week’s total savings with my previous 17 week total, I have now saved $85.76, and am still on pace to save $250 this year.

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