Millbrook proving ground shows 3% savings from fuel catalyst 12 February 2010

Independent tests on a so-called fuel catalyst, at the Millbrook proving ground late last year, appear to demonstrate a cast iron 3% saving in fuel consumption and carbon emissions for trucks.

The product in question is Fitch fuel catalyst (FFC), which has its origins in the US around a decade ago, and is now being distributed by Fuel Harmonics in the UK. Although the FFC has enjoyed occasional glowing reports in the past – including one from City of York Council – this is the first independent verification in the UK.

Fuel Harmonics enticed John Lewis to provide Millbrook with a 2004 DAF 85, with 1,014,886km on the clock and, according to its report dated 4 December 2009, and seen exclusively by Transport Engineer, the improvements are interesting.

Millbrook ran the tests in its variable temperature emission chamber, with the truck tested three times over the FIGE cycle at 23oC – monitoring legislated bag emissions as well as real-time hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, NOx and CO2 at the tailpipe.

The Millbrook team the fitted the FFC, following the manufacturer's instructions (including touching the leads on the battery terminals together) and then took the truck for 1,000 miles on the test track before running three more FIGE tests.

At this stage, Millbrook notes no significant fuel consumption changes and no changes with the emissions, except for carbon monoxide and particle mass, which were down 6.8% and 11.6% respectively "to 95% confidence levels".

But the story doesn't end there. The vehicle then returned to service for a further 4,000 miles with John Lewis before being returned for further tests. Although outside Millbrook's control, Colin Johnson, John Lewis' fleet engineer manager certifies that no maintenance work was carried out during that time.

Now, however, Millbrook found significant changes. Using the same driver and the same batch of fuel, it found that although emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and NOx remained virtually unchanged, both CO2 and fuel consumption had reduced by an average of 3% (5.3% urban, 4% suburban, 1.8% motorway). It also notes also that particulate mass rose by 6.5%.

Roger Macnair, for Fuel Harmonics, explains: "By the time [fuel reaches a truck] it is likely to have degraded in a number of ways: increased water content; contamination, due to microbial growth; sludge formation; and/or breakdown of hydrocarbons. Fitting an engine, new or old, with an FFC reverses the effects of degradation, allowing fuel to regain its optimum, 'refinery fresh' condition."

Although Macnair can't confirm that John Lewis is about to sign a substantial order for the Fitch catalysts, when pressed he said: "A national retailer is committing to a significant fleet contract."

FFC is already a success in the US, where it is retailed through more than 20,000 outlets. The FFC warranty is for 800,000km or 10,000 operating hours, whichever comes first, and is maintenance-free.

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Fuel Harmonics plc

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