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Diesel Fuel Cetane Number

April 10, 2017

When discussing diesel fuel qualities, the topic of cetane number nearly always comes up. Following is brief explanation of diesel cetane number and how it affects vehicle and equipment operators.

 

What is cetane number?
 

A diesel fuel’s cetane number is one measurement of the fuel’s combustion quality. Specifically, the cetane number refers to the fuel’s ignition delay. This is the amount of time between fuel being injected into the engine’s cylinder and when the fuel begins to combust. The higher the cetane number, the sooner this combustion takes place. A fuel’s cetane number is determined by a specific test measurement, and all diesel fuel sold in Australia must meet a legal minimum requirement.

 

What are the performance effects of cetane number?
 

A shorter ignition delay results in a smoother running engine, easier starting, reduced emissions and a more complete combustion of the fuel. This also improves power output and/or reduces fuel consumption. The actual cetane number requirement differs between engines based on engine design, load, size and operating speed. Above each engine’s ideal fuel cetane number, there is no further benefit to increasing the cetane level.

 

How to obtain higher cetane number fuel:
 

One way to achieve a higher cetane number fuel is to purchase “premium diesel” at the pump. The main challenges to this are price and availability, as premium diesel can be quite expensive and is not sold at all fuel locations. Another method is to use a quality chemical fuel additive that contains a cetane booster. Smith Lubricants Diesel Up provides a chemical boost to the cetane level of any diesel fuel sold in Australia when used as directed. The technology used is reliable, safe, proven and well tested. Click here to learn more about this and the other benefits of Diesel Up.

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