BP’s boffins explain the background to the advance of its Ultimate Fuels throughout Australia
Through the past 12 months, PowerTorque and its sister publication, Delivery Magazine, have been quietly evaluating claims of improved fuel economy, cleaner burn and quieter engine operating noise levels that have been the backbone of the current expansion of BP Australia’s 1400 retail outlets, 300 of which are company owned.
Our interest originated from discussions with major fleet operators and extended through to our own testing with our fleet vehicles to see if the claims could be substantiated, or whether, like so many advertising campaigns these days, the inference of advanced ability often fails the practical application test.
Certainly there’s been a lot happening in the BP camp, with many of its existing 1400 sites being expanded and upgraded, along with a brighter, more welcoming appearance. There’s an improved range of food available that doesn’t rely on fried food and high sugar content soft drinks, so that it’s now easier to eat healthier. We’ve also noticed a higher level of care when it comes to cleanliness, both in the general restaurant and throughout the showers and toilet facilities.
The baseline of all this activity has been timed to coincide with the introduction of BP’s new Ultimate 98 Unleaded and Ultimate Diesel, which have been designed to remove deposits left by ordinary fuels (‘dirt’), enable more kilometres per tank, a smoother drive and maintain and maximise engine performance.
The new Ultimate fuels are BP’s best ever dirt busting fuels, a result of five years of development and over 50,000 hours testing engines and vehicles covering the equivalent of more than 1.6 million kilometres.
Traditional diesel fuels have been shown to result in the formation of harmful engine deposits that can clog up critical engine components, reducing fuel economy and engine performance. BP Ultimate has been specially designed to attack the negative impact of deposits on key engine components.
The formulations of the new BP Ultimate fuels contain special molecules that attach themselves to dirt, releasing it from key engine components. The fuel then carries these deposits to the combustion chamber where they are burned. The formulation of Ultimate Diesel also protects engines for the long term by preventing the build-up of further harmful deposits.
It’s one thing to illustrate the perceived benefits, but in order to stamp the approval of PowerTorque on the use of Ultimate Diesel throughout the commercial vehicle industry we caught up with Garry Whitfield, Fuels Technical Expert at BP, to provide a deeper insight into its development.
In its discussions with fleet operators PowerTorque has been told of gains in fuel economy found in real-time applications that have substantiated claims of a 3.5 percent improvement in fuel economy. Operators are also finding that engines seem to be running quieter and more smoothly.
“These benefits come from the engine combustion not being as disorganised as it would be if the injectors are dirty. The engine runs more smoothly, it burns more cleanly and gives a better perception of performance,” said Garry Whitfield.
“The new fuels we have brought in are designed to cater for any range of engine developments over the next four to five years, and cater for Euro 5 and Euro 6 and beyond. The next generation we anticipate will be involving higher injection pressures and modifications to the injectors and electronic injection system,” he added.
PT: Is there a problem with older designs of diesel engines by introducing something that is also a cleansing agent?
GW: “All diesel engines, no matter when they were made, always had nozzle coking issues. Coke deposits result from heat and using a carbon-based fuel. It’s not like those deposits are doing anything good for the engine. If you went back 40 years, some of those older engines had to cope with deposits but the new fuel doesn’t cause any damage or adverse effects”.
PT: One operator we spoke to commented that they had to fit finer micron filters on their bunker tanks. Can the use of Ultimate Diesel cause clogging?
GW: “We recommend adding filters to bowsers of 10 microns, or you could go lower. Over time, diesel tends to build up a gum inside the tank. This gum becomes home to microbes, so that when you introduce cleansing agents you might remove some of that gum build up. Normally it doesn’t cause any issues, but if the tanks have been in use for ten years it can disturb some of the deposits.
“BP Ultimate Diesel is formulated to isolate water from the fuel very rapidly and this benefit reduces the microbes that can cause fuel matting. By separating the water from the distillate any trace water becomes very easy to remove,” said Garry.
“In the Australian market BP Ultimate Diesel currently has a mandated sulphur content of 10 ppm maximum, but more often it is ranked at around 5-6 ppm.
“There’s not much more you can do to mineral diesel fuel to improve it further. Ultimate Diesel has been formulated to include bio-diesel in a ration of up to 7 percent in the future, but there is no bio-diesel available at present as it currently costs more to produce than mineral-based diesel.
“Our testing in Europe has indicated that fuel consumption reduces by 3.0-3.5 percent, especially on an urban cycle, and when you clean up the engine it provides that sort of improvement. The same additives are contained in the fuel blended for cold temperature in snow areas.
“Where customers that use the new formulation have compared it to the old formulation they are seeing a benefit. Performance is better, a lot more people are trying it and using it, and those that try it like it.
“We have patented the additive formulations. I’ve done all the testing here, and, although formulated in Europe, it’s a global formula. All the cleansing properties of Ultimate Petrol are the same as Ultimate Diesel. A private motorist with a diesel car will find it works better, doesn’t rattle as much when it’s cold and operates better. We would expect it to be smoother, quieter and more efficient,” said Garry Whitfield.
Andy Holmes, president of BP Australasia, said, “Dirt is the perennial enemy of an engine. Even as much as a speck of dirt can impact engine performance, and the build-up of dirt caused by ordinary fuels over time can lead to engine damage. New BP Ultimate is the result of five years of research and rigorous testing. We are delighted to bring our best ever dirt busting fuels to our Australian customers.”
In 2016, BP is celebrating its 25th year of being a founder member supporting the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) in conjunction with Volvo Trucks Australia and National Transport Insurance (NTI).