Fuel Catalyst: What is a Fuel Catalyst and What Does a Fuel Catalyst Do?
A fuel catalyst is a pre-combustion mechanical device that increases fuel efficiency and decreases emissions. There are both diesel fuel catalysts and fuel catalysts for gasoline. Because of the difference in density between fossil fuels, fuel catalysts have varying degrees of impact with respect to increasing “gas” mileage and decreasing emissions.
Fuel catalysts designed for medium and heavy density fossil fuels like diesel, fuel oil and bunker fuel are more effective than fuel catalysts designed for lightweight fossil fuels like gasoline, ethanol, biodiesel, and propane. The reason is twofold. First, as their descriptors suggest, heavy fuels have a higher fuel density than lightweight fuels. Because heavy fuels are denser, oxygenating heavy fuels require more advanced technologies to produce a clean burn, technologies like fuel catalyst and/ultra-high pressure injectors.
Lightweight fuels oxygenate more easily than medium weight and heavy fuels. Therefore, the difference in oxygenation rates between primed fuel and untreated fuel directly from the refinery or conditioning plant is less. As a result, the increase in the fuel efficiency of a vehicle is less.
The second reason heavy-fuel fuel catalysts — diesel fuel catalysts in particular — increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions to a greater degree than lightweight-fuel fuel catalysts is because of the types of engines that combust each fuel type. Diesel engines are compression-ignition engines. Gasoline engines are spark-fired engines, a.k.a., spark-ignition engines.
In a spark-fired engine, the mixing of fuel and air occurs prior to the air-fuel mixture entering the engine. That is to say, gasoline and other spark-ignition engine fuels are in an oxygenated state prior to entering the combustion chamber, prior to being injected into the engine cylinder.
In a compression engine, on the other hand, the fuel and air mix in the combustion chamber. In order to increase the combustion efficiency of a compression engine, the fuel must be primed for oxygenation prior to entering the engine cylinder or the engine generates less power than the power potential of the fuel injected into the engine cylinders. The difference is a product of combustion efficiency. Unprimed fuel combusts less efficiently — meaning it simply blows out the exhaust — than fuel that is primed for oxygenation.
Fuel Catalysts vs Non-Catalysts
A fuel catalyst is a specialized mechanical device with two specific purposes and one essential requirement. A fuel catalyst must both improves fuel efficiency and decreases emissions. In addition to increasing “gas” mileage and decreasing the emissions output of an engine, a fuel catalyst must contain catalysts — a.k.a. noble or precious metals.
The reason these three distinctions of a fuel catalyst are important is that a large number of non-mechanical fuel additives and detergent marketers advertise their products as fuel catalysts, but chemical fuel supplements meet none of the requirements of a fuel catalyst.
What is a Fuel Catalyst
A fuel catalyst is a pre-combustion device that mounts on the fuel line of a combustion engine. Inside the fuel catalyst,cylinder-shaped there are precious noble metals — catalysts — similar to those found in a catalytic converter. The catalysts are arranged along a cylinder-shaped tube. Fuel traveling down the fuel line travel through the fuel catalyst and undergoes a physical change when exposed to the precious metals. As Cassandra, G. Freyschlag, and Robert J.Madix of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA explain in their 2011 research paper titled, Precious metal magic: catalytic wizardry:
“Precious metals are alluring and magical because of their inactivity toward chemical reactions; they are extremely stable and hence are also termed “noble metals.” During the industrial revolution, mankind realized that noble metals have the power to influence the course of chemical events – through catalysis. A catalyst is defined as a substance that facilitates a chemical transformation without itself being consumed in the process; this power has a mysterious, almost magic-wand character.
Fundamental understanding of underlying mechanisms for catalytic oxidation processes reveals the magic and transforms the use of noble metals from instruments of adornment, trade and Edisonian industrialization, to key players in a new era of catalysis by design with potential for environmentally benign chemical processing.”
Simply, a fuel catalyst increases the oxygenation potential of the hydrocarbons in fuel by depolarizing the molecular bindings that create fuel clusters in all fossil fuels, particularly in heavy fossil fuels with large hydrocarbon molecules and long hydrocarbon molecule chains.
How Precious Metals in a Fuel Catalyst Increase Oxygenation Potential of Fossil Fuel Hydrocarbons
Fossil fuels, even light fossil fuels like gasoline and gas-state fossil fuels like propane and natural gas, are homogeneous mixtures. Made of hydrocarbons and a variety of contaminants including sulfur and water, fossil fuels have clusters of hydrocarbons spread throughout the fuel in an uneven mixture.
Molecule clusters are groups of atoms or molecules that are found in close proximity to one another, but that does not have a chemical bond binding them. “A cluster is a group of the same or similar elements gathered or occurring closely together. In chemistry, a ‘cluster’ is an ensemble of bound atoms intermediate in size between a molecule and a bulk solid. Clusters can be viewed as solids at the nanoscale. The clusters exist in diverse stoichiometries and nuclearities.”
The heavier and thicker a fossil fuel, the more complex the technology required to fully oxygenate the fuel.
Fossil Fuel Oxygenation
Oxygen is as critical to fossil fuel combustion as the hydrocarbons in fuel that combust. Without exposure to oxygen, the fossil fuels will neither ignite nor burn. Because hydrocarbons will not combust without exposure to oxygen — without being oxygenized — the hydrocarbon clusters inherent in fossil fuels create an issue with respect to combustion efficiency. Combustion efficiency is an integral part of fuel efficiency.
The groups of hydrocarbons — the clusters — are a consequence of the inherent positive and negative charges in hydrocarbons. Fuel clusters bind together, even though there is no chemical bond created. While light and gas-state fossil fuels are more homogeneous, heavy fossil fuels like diesel, fuel oil, and bunker fuel — at a molecular level — inherently contain large clusters of hydrocarbons. The molecules inside the clusters of hydrocarbons have no exposure to oxygen. And unless the fuel clusters are broken up with provocation from fuel technologies, the unburned and partially burned hydrocarbons simply blow out the exhaust.
A fuel catalyst is a technology that breaks up hydrocarbon clusters. When the fuel traveling down a fuel line passes through the precious metals on the inside of a fuel catalyst, the precious metals depolarize the charges that attract large and long-chain molecules together in clusters. Depolarizing the clusters means the large molecules and molecule chains — hydrocarbons — have greater oxygenation potential and once oxygenized, the hydrocarbons will combust more completely as individuals and more efficiently overall.
What is Not a Fuel Catalyst
There are several products that are labeled fuel catalysts that are not. While these products can catalyze a change in fuel composition or on an engine, the capacity to catalyzing change does not mean an element or chemical is a catalyst. Additionally, fuel catalysts are often confused with catalytic converters. Though both fuel catalysts and catalytic converters look similar and are made of similar materials, they serve different purposes and are in different locations on the engine.
A fuel catalyst is a pre-ignition mechanical device that changes the physical composition of the fuel. A catalytic converter is a post-combustion mechanical device that produces a chemical change — oxidation — in fuel emissions.
Fuel Additives and Detergents
Fuel additives and detergents have considerable value with respect to increasing the octane and cetane levels of fossil fuels, removing hydrocarbon buildup on the inside of combustion engines, cleaning the interior of fuel tanks, cleaning injectors, etc. But, chemical fuel additives do not increase fuel efficiency dramatically and chemical fuel additives do not reduce emissions. Moreover, though often labeled fuel catalysts, chemical fuel supplements are not catalysts.
Similar confusion arises with respect to fuel catalysts and catalytic converters.
What is a Catalytic Converter?
They are both made of precious metals and both reduce emissions. However, catalytic converters and fuel catalysts are two different mechanical devices. A catalytic converter does not increase the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. Because of the bottlenecking of compression that results from restricting the flow of exhaust, catalytic converters actually reduce fuel efficiency. It is for this reason that people who customize their vehicles often remove the catalytic converter from their exhaust lines.
However, catalytic converters are a critically important technology with respect to the reduction of emissions. Like the inside of a fuel catalyst, interior of a catalytic converter is comprised of precious metals — catalysts.
In a catalytic converter, a series of temperature-resistant, perforated plates are stacked vertically next to one another. The plates are covered with precious metals. Exhaust from the engine passes through the holes in the plates and heats the noble metals. Once hot, the precious metals begin combusts the unburned hydrocarbons that pass through the catalytic converter preventing them from escaping into the air as hydrocarbon emissions. Instead, a catalytic converter burns the unburned and partially burned hydrocarbons and converts them into carbon dioxide and water.
Fuel Savings from a Fuel Catalyst
The fuel savings in one year from a Rentar Fuel Catalyst is guaranteed to pay for itself in 3 to 12 months. The Rentar increases the fuel efficiency of over-the-road vehicles by 3 to 8 percent. For example, tested under high-stress conditions by the U.S. Marine Corps, the Rentar Fuel Catalyst showed “very good reductions in opacity and emission odors, as well as showing a signiﬁcant increase in vehicle performance and MPG.
On off-road vehicles and heavy equipment, the improvement in fuel efficiency is generally even more than the 3 to 8 percent baseline. In 2004, the US Army Aberdeen Test Center put the Rentar Fuel Catalyst on a 1993 4×4 cargo truck used by the US Marine Corps. Operation with the Rentar “considerably enhanced performance,” one study concluded, resulting in “less hydrocarbon (HC) emissions, lower NOx levels, lower exhaust temperature rise, and improved fuel economy.”
With respect to marine engines, the fuel savings are even more dramatic. In 1997, the U.S. Navy placed the Rentar Fuel Catalyst on a starboard main engine of the USS Independence. On a voyage from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to California, the Rentar was compared with the port engine not using the device. The engine using the Rentar burned 151 fewer gallons during the voyage. Also tested by the Navy on a cargo trucks and other vehicles, the Rentar showed stunning savings in fuel economy – over 40 percent in some cases.
The change between before-Rentar-fuel-efficiency and after-catalyst-installation-savings on boilers and furnaces that burn fuel oil and bunker fuel is equally impressive. Hetero Labs put the Rentar Fuel Catalyst on a 5-ton boiler and got a “green energy” fuel consumption savings of 20 percent.
Emissions Reduction from a Fuel Catalyst
The Rentar Fuel Catalyst has been independently tested extensively and on average reduces nitrogen oxides (NOx) by up to 19%, carbon monoxide (CO) by up to 7%, particulate matter (PM) by up to 19% and hydrocarbon (HC) emissions by up to 11%. Reductions in opacity or black smoke can be even larger — up to 44% — and is apparent to the naked eye on older smoking vehicles within a few hours after installation.
The Rentar Fuel Catalyst also reduces volatile organics — those emissions most often recognized as cancer-causing. The Rentar reduce benzene emissions by up to 35.4%, toluene by up to 36.1%, xylenes by up to 46.2%, ethylbenzene by up to 48.4%, and acetone by up to 16.7%.
Fuel saving technologies, emissions-reducing technologies, and technologies and products that extend the life of an engine come in a wide variety of types. However, not every technology is purposed to save fuel and reduce emissions. Some technologies are only capable of reducing emissions. Other products neither cut fuel costs nor reduce emissions, but serve different purposes.
Owners, operators, fleet managers, and boards of directors wanting to increase the fuel efficiency of an engine and reduce its emissions require a fuel catalyst.