Demystifying Cetane Booster: What It Is And Why Its Number Matters
The difference between a good driving or operating experience and a poor one is highly influenced by the cetane value in your diesel fuel. Unfortunately, many diesel equipment operators are so wary of the numerous additives and performance enhancers in the market that they treat it as just another snake oil product. But to achieve enhanced diesel engine performance, you must recognize exactly what cetane is.
What Is Cetane Booster?
Cetane boosters, also known as cetane improvers, are diesel fuel additives that boost the cetane number of the fuel blend when added in low concentrations. In the US, most fuels are blends of distillate fuels and cracked petroleum hydrocarbons. Cracked hydrocarbons are often deficient in cetane compounds, and to meet the cetane number demands of most diesel engines, it is necessary to add cetane boosters to these blends.
Cetane boosters modify engine combustion by encouraging early and uniform ignition of fuel. These products help depress premature combustion and excessive rates of pressure increase during the combustion cycle. Most cetane boosters contain alkyl nitrates, which break down freely to provide extra oxygen for improved combustion.
Cetane Number and Why It Is Important
Cetane is a chemical compound naturally present in diesel that ignites easily under pressure. Due to its high flammability, cetane functions as the industry standard measure for estimating fuel combustion quality. The measure is referred to as “cetane number” and gives an idea of how quickly a fuel ignites, also known as fuel ignition delay. This refers to the gap in time between the start of injection and fuel combustion.
Fuels with higher cetane numbers will ignite much more quickly, carrying a variety of benefits for diesel equipment. The index rating for the cetane number ranges from 0 to 100. Usually, the diesel engine manufacturer will specify the ideal cetane number based on the engine design, size, nature of speed and load variations, and atmospheric conditions. However, you should not consider the cetane number alone when evaluating the quality of diesel fuel.
Benefits of Cetane Boosters
There are several practical reasons for using cetane booster additives. These include:
- Promoting diesel fuel efficiency by increasing the potential for every droplet sprayed into the combustion chamber to produce more power. This means your fuel will be burning for a longer time, allowing you to get more miles per gallon of fuel and thus, spend less on fuel.
- Supporting smoother, more effortless, and faster combustion. The rapid startup and quicker ignition leads to fewer smoke emissions, primarily when used over a significant period. In addition, when fuel is burning more efficiently in the combustion chamber, the exhaust system is left with fewer byproducts to manage.
- Giving diesel engines a great cold start by sparking up the ignition and enhancing their responsiveness.
- Promoting the efficient distribution of lubricating liquids throughout the engine, reducing the components’ wear and tear. The improved combustion also produces fewer deposits, which ordinarily contribute to engine tear and wear.
- Since a higher cetane number allows fuel to burn for longer, the pressure within the combustion chamber rises gradually, leading to minimal noise and less engine knock.
Must You Use Cetane Booster Additives To Obtain A Higher Cetane Number?
There are two ways of obtaining a higher cetane number in your diesel fuel. The first one is during the refining process by hydro-treating the fuel. However, hydrogen is very scarce and expensive, which makes this process unfavorable. The second option involves using cetane booster additives. However, the challenge with most additives in the market is that they involve a lot of guesswork, making them inherently risky.
Allegheny Petroleum strives to produce only the best line of lubricants and additives and has been doing so for more than 35 years. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for quality and high-performing cetane booster additives. We will be happy to provide our expertise and knowledge to ensure your projects run smoothly and successfully, from start to finish.