Jim Rossbach

Director of Technical Services and Quality Systems
CHS - Cenex Fuel and Lubricants

With nearly eight decades in the refined petroleum business and three decades in renewable fuels, CHS has earned its reputation as a safe, dependable supplier of high-quality energy products — those that keep tractors and fleets running smoothly, fuel cars and buses, and warm homes all across the country. CHS ranks as North America’s largest cooperative refiner and a significant wholesaler and reseller of refined fuels. We are a major producer and marketer of lubricants, as well as one of the nation’s largest propane wholesalers. CHS markets energy products primarily under the Cenex® brand through a broad range of working partnerships; we also market under private labels for other businesses. Our network of Cenex® branded convenience stores ranks among the top 20 in the nation. In addition, we offer a variety of petroleum and propane equipment, and we process more than 60 million credit card transactions annually.

Jim Rossbach has 30 years in the lubricants industry including 10 years in Technical Services and in Quality Systems management.

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    Heat can be the enemy of mechanical equipment, but it doesn't mean that the higher operating temperatures are hurting the heavy duty diesel engines of today. Higher operating temperatures are addressed by the use of larger cooling systems and in some cases through the use of oil coolers. The higher operating temperature are the result of the OEM engine builders desire to have a more complete combustion process, through the use of HPCR systems, which in turn will help them meet the stringent 2010 emissions standards. To accomplish this the fuel is injected multiple times at very high pressure into the piston cylinder for each firing cycle. The higher pressures result in higher temperatures but the process also provides a much more complete burn and as a result much lower pollution levels. The lower pollution levels now can be addressed by SCR or ERG. Systems. As new regulatory requirements are enacted over the next decade, future engine designs probably will operate at even higher injection pressures and temperatures.

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    The best place to start is with your question "What is #2 diesel fuel?". A #2 diesel fuel is a middle distillate fuel derived from crude oil. It is burned in compression ignited internal combustion engines or as a home heating fuel. It is required to meet certain minimum and maximum specifications as listed in ASTM D975. These include: Cetane number which measures the ignitability/startability of a fuel, distillation range, which indicates how much power and how well the fuel will self ignite, cloud point which indicates when it will start to become a solid, and sulfur, because it impacts the environment. In the USA only ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) is available for both on highway and off highway use. Together these specifications, along with the other requirements in D975 make up the basic requirements for middle distillate fuels including #2 diesel fuel.

    The next part of your question centers around the following question; Are #2 diesel fuels available as good, better, best fuels and if so where are they available? As a review; A premium #2 diesel fuel such as Cenex Ruby Fieldmaster or Roadmaster LX provides superior performance to a #2 diesel fuel. These benefits include improved power, better fuel economy and reduced maintenance costs. What makes a premium #2 diesel fuel different is that it will have a top quality proven additive package, that has been tested in both the lab and in the field. Other qualities of a premium fuel are higher centane numbers, better lubricity and superior injector cleaning capabilities. Although many suppliers do not offer premium #2 diesel fuels, CHS does offer 2 of the best fuels available Cenex Ruby Fieldmaster and Roadmaster XL. Additional information on locations, FAQs and product availability can be found on the "Cenex Public" web site at www.cenex.com.

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    The reason for the higher pressures along with multiple injections per cycle is to have a more complete combustion process. When the engine is running correctly there will be a reduction in engine carbon build up. Having said that, new lower emission requirements drove many of the changes to today's engines. Engines need to run cleaner to meet emissions requirements. The EPA mandated reductions in particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have been in the works for over 10 years and have followed a tiered approach. The first tier was Tier 1, which established the first significant reduction in particulates and NOx emissions. The final tier is Tier 4, which has already been implemented for on road heavy duty diesel engines, will have very low emissions, almost to the point where the exhaust gases from these engines will be virtually as clean as the air going into them.

    Although the goal was to achieve significantly lower particulate emissions, through a better and more complete combustion process, the benefits are that engine performance keeps improving. Engine technology and efficiencies have improved from one generation to the next and there is every reason to believe that new generation engines will last longer and perform better than previous generations of engines.

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    Today's high tech diesel engines do in fact operate under extremely high temperatures and pressures causing typical #2 diesel to destabilize or be "cooked," resulting in fouled fuel that can recirculate and may lead to damage of vital fuel system parts. Based on the work Cenex(r) conducted with OEM's, end-users and additive suppliers, no other diesel fuel contains a more complete additive package than Cenex(r) Premium Diesel Fuel - A true premium diesel fuel that starts with a high quality base fuel and a test proven, multi-functional additive package is added to insure the most consistent, high quality diesel fuel possible that ensures you get the performance you expect from your high-tech investments.

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    Using a premium fuel will increase both the performance and the longevity of the equipment. Premium fuels contain a proven additive package that delivers superior performance when compared to a #2 diesel fuel. Additives found in a premium diesel fuel are cetane improvers, lubricity improvers and detergents to clean injectors and minimize carbon deposits when compared to a #2 diesel fuel. Higher cetane numbers provides better ignition quality for quicker starts and lower pollution. Lubricity reduces friction which will extend the life of the fuel pump and reduce down time. Detergents keep the fuel injectors clean for optimum engine performance. These features provide improved power, and fuel economy, better ignition quality and startability, reduced down time and lower maintenance costs.

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    You can maximize fuel efficiency in your fleet by upgrading your engine oil and fuel to premium a diesel fuel and premium 5W-40 diesel fuel engine oil. Choose a premium engine oil and premium fuel that have documented their fuel efficiency and performance benefits. Premium 5W-40 diesel engine oils can provide minimum fuel economy benefits of 1% and up to 3% depending on operating conditions. A premium diesel fuel can provide fuel economy benefits up to 5% again depending on operating conditions. In addition to the fuel economy benefits premium diesel engine oils and fuels provide many additional benefits including, have a reduced carbon footprint, reduced down time, and improved engine (including injectors) cleanliness.

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    Fuel economy data can be obtained from Isuzu or from Hino by simply contacting and talking to one of their sales representative. Having reviewed some of the information listed on their web site, both appear to take fuel economy seriously. 

    A more interesting although unspoken part of the question is what affects fuel economy regardless of the type of equipment is being driven? 

    As everyone knows there are many factors that affect your fuel economy, some of which you can control and some that can't be controlled. 

    The weather, road conditions, and traffic are just a few examples of factors that can't be controlled.

    Factors that can be controlled are:
    1. Driving habits: Excessive idling, driving/braking habits, rapid starts and excessive weight. Driving sensible at the speed limit can improve your fuel economy significantly. 
    2. Equipment maintenance: Keeping your vehicle properly maintained and your tires at the right pressure also affect fuel economy. 
    3. The fuel and oil used in your vehicle: Using a premium fuel and premium engine oil can increase your fuel economy significantly. Cenex Roadmaster XL or Ruby Fieldmaster fuels and Cenex Maxtron Envrio Edge 5W-40 motor oils are examples of 2 premium products that will help improve your fuel economy.

    For further information about Cenex branded fuels and oils go to the "Cenex Public" web site at www.cenex.com.

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    First let's clarify emission requirements. OEM engine builders must build their diesel engines to meet the mandated tier IV emission requirements phased in from 2007 through 2010 for on road diesel engines and for off road diesel engines over the next several years after that. Diesel engines using SCR technology (DEF) are not mandatory but along with ERG technology are 2 of the primary ways that OEMs have developed to meet these emission requirements. The way SCR technology works is that it injects a chemical reductant (DEF) into the exhaust stream to reduce NOx emissions. With the aid of a catalyst the DEF converts the NOx gas into a combination of harmless nitrogen gas and water. Although it may have been difficult to obtain information on Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR) and Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in the past, this type of information is widely available on the internet today.

    As to your question on why there is not more excitement; I am not sure how well I can answer it. In general there is not much excitement associated with new regulations including those that have emission requirements no matter how beneficial they are for us. Maybe it's because there is the fear of the unknown especially with new technology, maybe it's more expensive, maybe we are certain how well it will perform, or if there will be unforeseen problems, or a variety of other reasons. SCR technology has been developed to meet Tier IV emission requirements, it is in use today and is helping meet those requirements. If SCR technology not only reduces emissions but also provides improved fuel economy and reduced operating costs, the heavy duty diesel engine industry will transition very quickly to it because it is economically beneficial to do so.

    Last I would like to also point out that the type of fuel you use makes also makes a difference. No matter what type of equipment you own, using Cenex premium fuels can help provide improved performance, more power and increased fuel economy.

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    Thank you for your question. If your engine is operating properly using a higher temperature coolant it would have little effect on fuel efficiency and the gain/loss would be negligible. There is no direct correlation between the combustion temperature and the fuel efficiency or power output. Fuel efficiency and power output are determined by many different factors including base engine design, injection pressures, and a variety of different engine factors. It is possible to achieve similar fuel efficiencies and power levels using different combustion temperatures.

    Since fuel economy is determined by the combustion process, a poor combustion process will lead to lower fuel efficiency and a higher will lead to improved fuel efficiency. In general, diesel engines typically have a 98%+ efficient combustion process using un-additized #2 diesel fuel, making it hard to improve fuel economy by simply improving the combustion process. 

    Fuel efficiency is based on many different factors including driver habits, idling time, tire pressure, maintenance, the quality of your lubricants and fuels and many other factors. 

    One of the reasons that you may be seeing improved fuel economy with the radiator fan off is that it takes energy to run lights, A/C and even radiator fans. Keep in mind that you can have detrimental effects on your engine if your operating temperature is too high

    To improve your fuel economy consider using a premium fuel and lubricant. You can find out more about premium fuels and lubricants at Cenex.com

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    There are many ways to improve fuel economy and many of these are within the control of the truck owner/driver. Fuel efficiency improvements can be divided into several categories: Some of the categories that will help you improve fuel economy the most are: Driving habits, truck maintenance, fuel/oil quality, and route planning, others such as truck design are probably outside of your control. We will concentrate on the areas within your control that can help to improve fuel economy.

    Driving Habits: It has been said many times that fuel economy can be increased significantly simply by driving sensibly. Avoid excessive speeds, observe the speed limit, minimize idling, and do not carry excessive or extra weight when possible. In addition make sure that the load you are carrying is properly balanced. Training your drivers to drive correctly will allow you to significantly improve your fuel economy. 

    Proper Truck Maintenance: Take the time to make sure that you equipment is properly maintained. One of the biggest reasons for poor fuel economy is under inflated tires, make sure that the tires on your equipment are properly inflated. Note that over inflating tires does not improve fuel economy when compared to properly inflated tires but over inflation does increase tire wear. In addition make sure that the truck is running properly and that all preventative or recommended maintenance is completed at the required or proper intervals.

    Use high quality lubricating oils and fuels in your truck; Using high quality or premium oils and a premium fuel will improve your fuel economy several percent. It has been well documented that the use of synthetic oils such Cenex branded lubricants in your transmission, differentials and engine not only protect your equipment better, but they also can improve your fuel economy up to 3%. The same is true for a premium fuel, such as Cenex Ruby Roadmaster can improve power and fuel economy, increase lubricity, extend the life of the injectors and pumps. In addition using both will help to lower overall maintenance costs. 

    Route planning: If you preplan your route to be the best delivery route, it can help to minimize driving extra miles on every trip. This will help improve fuel economy simply you have reduced the number of miles you are driving. 

    I hope this short summary is helpful to you in improving you fuel economy. If you use common sense when operating your equipment and follow some of the tips listed above your fuel economy will improve, if you have already implemented some of these recommendations then you have already seen some fuel economy improvements and should be congratulated for your initiative.

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