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Diesel is the new black

Premium oil: Vortex diesel is Australia's first "premium" distillate.

Caltex trials a cleaner diesel fuel in NSW, which could lead to a national rollout

General News logo10 Aug 2007

CALTEX has introduced a premium diesel fuel for sale at a select range of retail outlets in NSW, commencing a trial that will run over the next few months to test customer reaction and assess whether a nationwide rollout would be feasible.

Vortex Diesel, as it is known, does not have a lower sulphur content than the current minimum standard of 50 parts per million.

However, Caltex Australia has moved to address some of the negative issues associated with diesel fuel, such as including an anti-foam agent designed to dispel the greasiness and the pungent odour that stems from using diesel pumps.

The fuel also includes a detergent intended to clean the diesel engine’s injectors, helping restore lost power and economy from the build-up of deposits.

“The detergent is very similar to the claims we make in premium (unleaded) fuels – it cleans the whole fuel-injection system, primarily the injectors,” Caltex Australia transport fuels product manager Steve O’Halloran told GoAuto last week.

“Even if your typical punter has got a 10-year-old 4WD diesel or an SUV, it will clean up the injectors – and keep them clean.” Mr O’Halloran said the anti-foam agent worked to prevent diesel foam – which is invisible to the naked eye but materialises as the oily, smelly film that comes to rest on the hands, pump, hose, etc – escaping from vehicle’s fuel tank at the bowser.

“It reduces the odour coming out, but it also keeps the pumps a lot cleaner because you’re not getting any foam out of the tank when you fill,” he said. “So you’re getting a cleaner, drier, better-presented pump as well.” Vortex Diesel attracts a one-cent-per-litre premium over regular diesel, however it is not being offered as an alternative fuel at the 21 test sites located between Sydney and Wollongong.

Instead, Caltex will assess whether Vortex Diesel has a high enough demand to warrant continuing – and extending – its use as the sole diesel fuel on a particular site.

“Primarily, what we’re doing is superseding regular diesel with the premium diesel product,” said Mr O’Halloran. “We’ll be doing some comprehensive research and then taking an indication from there.

“It really comes down to market demand... we’ll have a look at it, and then we will seriously consider a certain rollout, certainly in the NSW market, within a short space of time after that.

“It’s a bit like 98-octane, or premium fuel, in that while we know chemically and technically the reaction it has in the combustion chamber and what it actually does in the vehicle, it also comes down to the market and whether the customer perceives that to be of high value to them and whether Vortex Diesel will be sought out in the marketplace.”

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