Understanding Detergent vs. Cetane

Long Haul Semi-Truck detergent and cetane explanation`

Cetane is a massive buzzword in the fuel industry. Ask almost anybody what they are looking for in a premium diesel, and cetane is sure to be one of the first words brought up. However, many times, the benefits they are looking for are derived from a premium detergent if you dig deeper.

While cetane is still essential to aid in combustion efficiency and cold starts, it doesn’t typically provide the benefits that the end-user has in mind. Historically, horsepower and fuel economy are associated with cetane. However, equipment changed from mechanically driven, large engine parts to smaller, electronically driven components. Cetane isn’t the most critical factor in restoring horsepower or improving fuel economy.  Read more about cetane and cetane numbers here.

Today’s engines and injectors are designed to work on a precise amount of fuel injected in a series of sprays through tiny openings. Premium detergents keep the injectors clean (or clean up if a premium detergent has never been used) from deposits to allow optimal fuel injection sprays. This extends the life of the injectors, but it also restores horsepower and improves fuel economy to new engine performance levels.

In addition to engine components becoming smaller and electronically driven, the way diesel fuel is being refined has also increased the need for a premium detergent. As sodium and calcium come into contact with corrosion inhibitors used in the pipelines, carboxylate soaps/salts are formed. Premium detergent is required to keep these deposits from causing issues in equipment and fuel performance.

By: Marshall Root, ET Sales