Cold-flow Improvers Keep The Fuel Flowing – And Your Truck Rolling
Mark Nyholm | TECHNICAL MANAGER, HEAVY-DUTY & MECHANICAL R&D
Up here in the northern U.S. and Canada, we’ve entered the frigid season. We have to throw on an extra layer of clothing to combat temps well below zero and clear ice from our ice-fishing holes a little more frequently.
For those of us burning diesel fuel, we also have to be wary of what comes out of the green-handled pump at the fuel station.
Diesel Fuel Can Gel In Winter
Diesel contains naturally occurring wax that solidifies in cold temperatures. Normally the wax is in liquid form, and due to its importance, we ‘definitely want it in the solution. When temperatures drop, wax crystals form and cling to one another. As temperatures continue to decrease, formation continues until it restricts the flow of fuel through fuel filters, eventually stalling the engine. Wax formation in fuel is commonly known as “gelling.” Depending on the fuel, gelling can occur at temperatures barely below 32°F (O°C).
In addition to “gelling,” a few other common terms describe diesel cold-weather performance:
- Cloud Point – The temperature at which wax crystals begin to form in diesel fuel. This is normally around 32°F (0°C) for #2 diesel fuel but can be as high as 40°F (4°C)
- Cold-Filter-Plugging Point (CFPP) – The point at which wax crystals allowed to form in untreated diesel fuel clog the fuel filter.
- Pour Point – The lowest temperature at which fuel maintains its ability to flow
The ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) at every pump must meet certain CFPP characteristics to help protect drivers. Refineries typically achieve this by producing winter-blend diesel.
Winter-blend diesel is simply the standard #2 diesel fuel available at fuel stations everywhere mixed with some percentage of #1 diesel fuel. Number 1 diesel contains less wax and offers cloud and pour points of typically -20°F (-29°C) or colder, making it preferable in cold weather.
So, why not just use #1 diesel in winter and call it a day? Because it produces approximately 95 percent of the energy output of #2 diesel, reducing your fuel economy and horsepower. And no one wants that. It’s also a heck of a lot more expensive to make, so the refinery passes that additional cost off to the consumer, and no one wants to pay any more than they have to.
Weather Is Inherently Unpredictable
Winter-blend diesel does a decent job preventing gelling, but it’s not foolproof. That’s because refiners typically base the fuel’s rating on temperature projections that don’t leave room for sudden and violent temperature swings. Where I live in northern Minnesota, we can easily go from 40°F (4°C) to below zero in hours. If the winter-blend diesel available at my nearest station isn’t blended for those temperatures, the fuel could gel and leave me stranded. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take.
Use cold-flow improvers
The best motto in this case is the one the Boy Scouts use: Be prepared. Rather than tempt fate, use a diesel fuel additive formulated to prevent gelling. AMSOIL Diesel All-in-One (ADBP) is the perfect solution. In addition to providing potent detergency and lubricity to clean and lubricate injectors for maximum fuel economy and power, it contains cold-flow improvers that help prevent wax formation and settling. As a result, it guards against gelling to keep your diesel up and running despite frigid cold.
How does it stack up to the competition, you ask? Well, check out the graph. Diesel AII-in-One provides as much as 32°F better protection against cold-temperature gelling than Howes* Lubricator Diesel Treat.1
For the best protection this winter, use Diesel All-in-One at every fill-up. That’ll be one less thing to worry about.
1 Based on independent testing in July 2017 of AMSOIL Diesel-All-In-One and Howes Lubricator Diesel Treat using diesel fuel representative of the U.S. marketplace and Howes’ recommended treat rate for above 0°F.
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