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2015-04-06:     

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Diesel Engine Performance and Effects

Engine soot is a common byproduct in diesel engines. Soot is formed as the result of incomplete fuel combustion. Diesel fuels are composed of hydrocarbons, containing both carbon and hydrogen, and when undergoing complete combustion, the only byproducts are CO2 and water. Fact is, no diesel engine is completely efficient and complete combustion does not occur. Complete combustion would require a very lean ratio of fuel to air, whereas real engine conditions exhibit richer fuel mixtures. The less air that is present in the ratio, the more favorable the conditions for soot accumulation.

Soot formation is more pronounced in newer, but any diesel engine. While fuel is injected during the compression stroke and ignited spontaneously from the pressure in diesel engines. Diesel engines produce fuel-dense pockets in the combustion chamber that produce soot when ignited. Newer exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) diesel engines, designed to reduce NOx emissions by routing part of the engine exhaust stream through an intercooler and back to the intake manifold, further compound soot problems in diesel engine oils.

Excessive soot concentrations in oil can be caused by a number of factors. Worn out rings or injectors, excessive idling, poor fuel spray patterns and incorrect air-fuel ratios are major causes of soot formation. A faulty fuel nozzle may spray more fuel than desired, increasing the fuel-to-air ratio and causing incomplete combustion and soot accumulation, or the air filter may become clogged, decreasing air supply and increasing the fuel-air ratio.

Soot particles are spherical in shape and 98 percent carbon by weight. They are a very small size of around 0.03 microns, but they often agglomerate to form larger particles. Although the majority of soot produced during combustion exits through the exhaust, some passes through the rings of the combustion chamber and enters the engine oil. As long as these soot particles remain suspended in the oil and are not allowed to agglomerate, they pose little risk to engine parts. It is up to the motor oil dispersants to keep soot particles dispersed. However, in high soot conditions, dispersants can become quickly depleted.

High soot load conditions lead to loss of oil dispersancy as oil dispersant additives are consumed. As dispersancy is lost, soot particles agglomerate and form larger particles that build up on engine surfaces. This soot and sludge eventually impedes oil flow, and it can also form in oil filters, blocking oil flow and allowing dirty oil to circulate through the engine. In addition, high soot levels within a motor oil increase its viscosity, further impeding oil flow and increasing engine wear. Anti-wear additive performance is also affected in high soot conditions as additives are gradually removed from the oil by adsorption to soot particles, leading to increased wear and premature engine failure.

Another negative effect of high soot conditions is the formation of carbon particles on the piston ring grooves, causing degradation of the oil seal between the ring and cylinder liner and abrading the ring and liner. As the gap between the ring and liner increases, combustion byproducts such as gases and unburned fuels blow into the crankcase, a problem known as blow-by, eventually causing expanding gases to lose ability to push the piston down and generate the power necessary to propel the vehicle. Horsepower is lost and fuel efficiency decreases. Ring sticking and poor heat transfer from the piston to the cylinder wall can also result. Carbon, varnish, soot, wear metals, acids and HEAT are all normal operating factors to consider when planning an effective diesel maintenance program.

Current industry standards outline acceptable levels of oil contaminants through a standardized oil sample test programs. These tests are available through engine manufacturers and testing laboratories. These standards have been set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the Automotive Petroleum Institute (API) and the engine manufacturers worldwide.

At Diesel TEK we believe the acceptable levels of any of these contaminates are as close to ZERO as they can be maintained. We treat the fuel addressing fuel quality, cetane, detergency and overall combustion efficiency. Our engine cleaning process addresses complete contaminate removal.

For more information on our program please visit www.dieseltek.com