By Craig Paterson
Vice President, Product Management
We’re believers in the power of high-performance lubricants and fluids here at Lubrizol. In a variety of applications, an optimized fluid can deliver enhanced protection, efficiency and other operational performance benefits for vehicles and equipment everywhere.
In the North American market, though, there’s a specific area where technological development has lagged, and thus, so have the performance benefits: Heavy-duty diesel fuel.
And it’s no secret. As reported recently by Fuels + Lubes magazine, heavy-duty diesel original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) haven’t been satisfied by the quality of American diesel fuel for some time now. Diesel engine technology, design and equipment have advanced in conjunction with U.S. standards and Mobile sources - Pollutant exhaust gases created by the combustion of fuel. Water and CO2 are not included in this category, but CO, NOx, and hydrocarbons are and are thus subject to legislative control. All three are emitted by gasoline engines, while diesel engines also emit particulates that are regulated. Stationary sources - The release of sulfur oxides and particulates from power stations that can be influenced by fuel composition. Local authorities control the sulfur content of heavy fuel oils used in such applications. regulations. It’s not just OEMs who stand to benefit from higher-quality diesel fuel on America’s roads, better enabling their equipment—fleet operators can gain higher profitability through higher engine performance and greater efficiency, while fuel marketers can achieve some higher value in supplying a high-performance product.
Additive-enhanced diesel fuels are slowly finding their way into the marketplace, as seen with the introduction of TOP TIER(TM) Diesel in 2017. These kinds of higher-quality fuels can help reduce both internal and external deposits on fuel injectors, improve lubricity resulting in less wear on injectors and the engine as a whole, and improve fuel stability for fewer deposits in fuel system components. Each of these benefits results in a higher-performing engine.
Despite the benefits, additive-enhanced diesel has only yet achieved minuscule market penetration and isn’t readily available at many cross-country service stations. Why is this the case? In order for service stations to justify carrying a higher-performing product, demand for the product must exist; demand is created by knowledgeable fleet owners and truck drivers who want the performance benefits these fuels can deliver.
But among many other concerns involved with commercial trucking, higher performance fuel isn’t always top of mind for those end users. And as it stands today, general awareness of the benefits those fuels can deliver isn’t as high as it should be. As such, higher-performing product exists, but rarely does it make it into the market where it can make a difference.
A similar situation has taken place in the realm of heavy-duty diesel engine oils. In 2016, American Petroleum Institute. The primary oil and natural gas trade association in the United States. API operates a voluntary licensing and certification program that allows engine oil marketers to use the API Engine Oil Quality Marks if their products meet specific requirements. introduced its new heavy-duty diesel oil specifications, API CK-4 and FA-4. The market has quickly moved to CK-4 heavy-duty diesel oil but adoption of FA-4 has been slow largely due to limited compatibility with trucks made before 2017. Fleet operators also are worrying about many areas of their business aiming towards maximizing their bottom line.
In any industry, becoming an early adopter of a new technology can pose a business risk. But the benefits additive-enhanced diesel fuel and durable and efficient FA-4 lubricants can bring to a modern truck fleet are considerable, and in order for all stakeholders to seize that value, the benefits need to be more clearly communicated and advocated for throughout the heavy-duty space.
There are numerous modern diesel fuel technologies that can help deliver higher quality and performance to both on- and off-road applications everywhere, whether it’s cold temperature additive packages, anti-foam agents, detergents and beyond. Cleaner, more efficient diesel equipment operation is possible with the help of modern, advanced fuel technology.
Fuel marketers have the opportunity to deliver higher-value, higher-performing fuels throughout the marketplace, especially within the heavy-duty diesel segment. It requires advocacy, education and connection with the end users who will feel the benefits the most. And at Lubrizol, we’re committed to helping fuel marketers achieve those goals with the right technology to deliver true end-use benefits.