Difference Between Catalysts and Additives

What are Diesel Fuel Additives Versus Diesel Fuel Catalysts

Fuel additives, through marketing, acquire the label “catalyst.” By the definition of the word, however, additives are not catalysts. Fuel additives react and combust. And, the effects additives have on diesel are different than the effects of a catalyst on fuel. Fundamentally, additives and catalysts are very different.

And, additives and catalysts have very different purposes. As important as understanding the difference between additives and catalysts is understanding how they do what they do. And, for what end.

What is a Fuel Catalyst and are Additives Fuel Catalysts?

The definition of a catalyst is simple, not only simple but almost universally agreed upon.

Both the scientific and academic community provides roughly the same definition of a catalyst. And, the definition of catalyst provided by scholars is the same as the definition provided by the three major English dictionaries. And, Merriam-Webster, Oxford, and Hirsch have the same definition of catalyst that academic resources for children have.

The definition of a catalyst is not up for debate.

A catalyst is an agent that accelerates a chemical change. And there is a second, equally important, quality of a catalyst, however. A catalyst is also an agent of change that, itself, is unchanged by the chemical reaction it produces. “A catalyst can be recovered chemically. [It] is unchanged at the end of the reaction it has been used to speed up, or catalyze.” That, according to both the University of Texas and ChemiCool.com is a catalyst.

With respect to diesel fuel, a catalyst is a mechanical device purposed to do two things: improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions as does the Rentar Fuel Catalyst.

 Why Fuel Additives are Not Catalysts

By definition, diesel fuel additives are not catalysts. Fuel additives burn up when the diesel they are mixed in with combusts. Since fuel additives burn up upon diesel combustion, drivers and operators must supplement each new tank of fuel with an additive.

However, while not catalysts, fuel additives do catalyze diesel fuel. Additives do accelerate a chemical change in diesel. But, that does not mean additives are catalysts. It is that misnomer that separates the chemical engineering of fuel additives from the marketing of fuel additives.

Marketers fail to differentiate between the noun catalyst and the verb catalyze. In doing so, they take the liberty of calling chemical additives catalysts. 

Diesel fuel catalysts, on the other hand, are neither chemicals nor chemical compounds. Catalysts are devices, permanent fixtures. Diesel fuel catalysts are more akin to oil pans and hydraulic hoses and transfer cases than diesel fuel additives.

What Do Diesel Fuel Catalysts Do?

Diesel fuel catalysts improve gas mileage, prevent sludge and carbon buildup, and reduce emissions. Diesel fuel catalysts generate these improvements by homogenizing diesel fuel. Diesel fuel is not uniform. It has an uneven distribution of fuel molecules because the fuel molecules have a tendency to cluster together.

Fuel clusters do not burn completely and, as a result, create sludge and carbon buildup. Clusters also lead to higher rates of emissions. And the congested natural state of diesel is the principal cause of poor fuel efficiency.

Homogenization produces a complete — a.k.a. “clean” — burn. That means an immediate increase in fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and a reduction in carbon build up and sludge.

What Fuel Additives Do

Fuel additives do not increase gas mileage to a noticeable degree. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “despite evaluating or testing more than 100 alleged gas-saving devices; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage.”

Furthermore, for those concerned with the environment, fuel additives are not always a good idea. “Some “gas-saving” products may damage a car’s engine or substantially increase exhaust emissions.”

Nevertheless, diesel fuel additives can improve other aspects of a compression engine’s performance. Most diesel fuel additives clean engines.  Additives can mitigate the damage done by poorly homogenized diesel fuel.

Diesel fuel catalysts, on the other hand, catalyze diesel fuel.


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