Diesel fuel and oil additives developed by American Clean Energy Systems could help contractors save on fuel costs, reduce equipment wear and meet increasingly stringent emission requirements.
A variety of contractors have field tested the additives, and Penn State University is currently testing them in a controlled laboratory environment. Early real-world use has shown the additives to be promising products for many off-road equipment users.
ACES founder and President Jay Hill claims the diesel fuel additive will even help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. He said his company’s ACES II additive increases fuel efficiency by 20 percent, significantly reduces harmful emissions and extends engine life – all at about 5 cents per gallon.
“Fuel is our biggest cost,” said Bob Decker, equipment manager for P.J. Dick – Trumbull – Lindy, a general contractor and construction manager. “Whatever savings we can get is a big item right now.”
Decker said his company has tested the ACES diesel and oil additives in its off-road construction equipment with impressive results. It began using the products in May of last year and continues to use them in present projects.
During a Pittsburg, Pa., repaving project, Decker said he saw a 30-degree reduction in temperature for hydraulic systems using the ACES III oil additive. Though the company has ceased use of this additive, he said it helped extend the life of equipment used in the project.
Trumbull is using the ACES II additive in Caterpillar dozers and cranes during its Moorefield, W.Va., highway construction project with similar success. Decker said dozers using the additive have shown a 2.63 gallon per hour reduction in fuel consumption, representing a savings of 19.5 percent. He also said lower emission findings are encouraging.
At a consumption rate of 1.5 million gallons of diesel fuel a year, Decker said Trumbull stands to save $438,000 (at $1.50 per gallon) annually by using 292,000 fewer gallons with ACES II.
Another organization testing the ACES additives is the Onyx Greentree Landfill in Kersey, Pa. Area manager Donald Hendrichs said his company has been using it for a number of years and will continue as long as it adds value.
“If it wasn’t working, we obviously wouldn’t use it,” Hendrichs said. He said Onyx now uses the additive on a daily basis in its garbage compactors, dozers and other heavy equipment. The company has treated more than 200,000 gallons of fuel with the additive.
The company’s initial use of the additive resulted in a 13 percent fuel savings for its equipment as a whole. “It sounded too good to be true,” Hendrichs said.
There are skeptics of ACES’s claims however, as the products have yet to be validated in laboratory testing. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has provided the financial push for Penn State University’s testing of ACES’s products to determine if they work, and if so, how.
The key ingredient in the fuel additives is an oxygen activator that makes the fuel burn more efficiently, according to ACES. In maximizing combustion, more of the fuel is burned, reducing pollutants such as nitric oxide, which consists largely of unburned fuel. A lubricating residue is also left inside the engine by polymers within the additive, reducing wear.
Andre Boehman, a Penn State University associate professor of fuel science testing the ACES additives, said the company and government agency approached the university’s lab because they wanted to know what was really happening with the products.
“Their explanations were very weak,” Boehman said. “We’re simply testing an inventor’s claims.”
Boehman and two department colleagues are trying to assess whether the additives change the fuels’ properties and what affect they have in the engine. This is being done in controlled benchmark comparisons with standard diesel fuel.
“Unless you’ve done testing in a controlled lab, it’s hearsay,” Boehman said. He expects the project to conclude at the end of January. Only then will ACES’s claims be credible.
“It’s our job to be skeptical,” Boehman said.
Patrick Beeson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.