ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The good news for area farmers is that the diesel fuel they use in equipment already has an additive that meet the requirements of the new ultra-low sulfur diesel being mandated by the U.S. 1990 Clean Air Act, which continue to come on line.
Chad Nowak, energy technician for Cooperative Grain & Supply at Hillsboro, and Laura Legg, manager at Ampride stations in Hillsboro and Marion, confirmed that ultra-low sulfur diesel began being added to tanks for road use in April.
Nowak said refineries, including the one at McPherson that supplies stations here, were required to label ultra-low sulfur diesel for highway use by June 1. The fuel had to be added earlier to dilute and cleanse former fuel out of the system.
Nowak said off-road machines such as tractors and combines aren’t required to burn the new fuel, but the new “clear diesel” is a huge part of the market.
Refineries, after a costly gearing up to produce ultra-low sulfur diesel for the highway market, are inclined to produce it for both the highway and off-road markets.
Nowak predicted that by harvest time, the dyed diesel that identifies it for off-road use-bought for farm equipment-will most likely be ultra-low sulfur. And, he said, this is where an additive used by cooperatives, called “Ruby Fieldmaster,” becomes especially important.
Sulfur in diesel acts as a lubricant, Nowak said. While its removal reduces harmful pollution into the air, it makes the fuel drier, which leads to scarring of metal surfaces. The injector pump is his biggest concern.
“Of all the additives in Ruby Fieldmaster, lubricity takes on added importance with the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel,” he said.
Ruby Fieldmaster has a big advantage over other additives that may be used for the same functions, Nowak said, because it is electronically injected into the diesel. Some companies merely dump additives into the diesel for dispersion.
Sulfur reduction under the new standard is “dramatic,” Nowak said.
“The Clean Air Act required that sulfur content be reduced from 5,000 parts per million (ppm) to just 500 ppm in October, 1993 for on-road vehicles. The ultra-low sulfur diesel standard that goes into effect this year reduces the sulfur content to just 15 ppm.
“That’s why we are especially concerned about making producers aware of the importance of Ruby Fieldmaster, a premium fuel refined, and sold under the Cenex brand.
“We have spent millions of dollars quality testing additive injection equipment,” Nowak added. “This ensures that the proper dosage of Ruby Fieldmaster additive is blended with diesel at the terminal loading rack to meet features as a must in a premium diesel fuel.”
Nowak listed those features as:
— high cetane, promotes quicker, more fuel-efficient starts.
— aggressive detergents, which maximize power and fuel economy.
— lubricity components, which protect the injection pump and injectors.
— water demulsibility, which reduces water retention and emulsion problems.
— corrosion inhibitors, which extend fuel pump life.
— stabilizers, which reduce gum and varnish buildup on engine parts.
Nowak said all of the additives in Ruby Fieldmaster are important.
“But detergency and lubricity are critical in today’s diesel fuels,” he said. “Detergents keep injectors clean, allowing for an optimal spray pattern so that you don’t end up with unburned fuel during combustion.
“Otherwise, injectors become fouled. Buildup of deposits leads to poor engine performance.”
Nowak said Ruby Fieldmaster is offered with a warranty that covers injectors for five years or 5,000 hours, and the pump for nine years or 9,000 hours on new tractors and combines.
The additive has been sold since the mid-1970s after its development primarily for farmers, but it is suited to all diesel applications, Nowak said.