From the October 2008 issue of Movin' Out
By Antoinette "Toni" Trotta
In the September 2008 issue of Movin' Out we introduced you to Arlindo "AJ" Jardin, an independent truck owner/operator who has been driving for over 36 years and is an inventor and co-owner of the ValvePal company.
"AJ" drives a 2000 Freightliner FLD 120 with a 3406E 600hp CAT, an 18-speed Eaton transmission with 3:58 rear ratio. The truck runs on 11R 22.5" tires and pulls a 53 ft. dry van. He has a regular weekly run from Boston to Minneapolis and back, running primarily across I-90.
In April 2006 "AJ" was averaging 6.166 miles per gallon. In our last issue we detailed the steps he took from April to December 2006 netting him a gain of .515mpg that raised his average to 6.681mpg.
January through March 2007 were exceedingly cold months and "AJ" made no new changes. He drove a total of 36,152 miles, using 5,735.6 gallons of fuel, with an idle time of 47.0hrs and an average speed of 52mph. Because of extreme temperatures and adverse weather conditions "AJ" experienced a drop in his fuel efficiency with a loss of .378mpg bringing him to an average of 6.303mpg.
In April 2007 with more favorable weather conditions on his side "AJ" was ready for the next change. Having heard a great deal about increased performance and fuel mileage from high-flow mufflers he decided to try them. He replaced the stock mufflers on his Freightliner with new high-flow mufflers. He noticed an immediate 100-degree drop in his exhaust temperature and felt a difference in his engine performance. From April to June of 2007 he ran a total of 42,859 miles, using 6,212.3 gallons of diesel fuel with an idle time of 31.7hrs and an average speed of 52.7mph. With the new high-flow mufflers he saw an increase of .218mph bringing his average to 6.899mpg. "AJ" was pleased with the results and felt that he had earned a good return on his investment.
While at The Mid America Trucking Show in March of 2007 "AJ" met David Kountz, a fellow exhibitor at the Louisville, KY truck show. Dave's company Fleet -Air Filters makes high-flow washable air filters designed to increase airflow and improve performance and mileage. "AJ" explained to Dave that when CAT changed from the 425hp engine to the 600hp they had never re-fitted the air filters to accommodate the larger size engine; the results were that the 600hp would always experience restriction as long it was running with standard filters. After talking with Dave "AJ" was convinced that making the change to high-flow air filters was his next step and Fleet-Air Filters was his choice. He also liked that Fleet-Air Filters was an American made product something that is an important factor in ValvePal products as well. He installed the new high-flow air filters in July 2007 with two immediate results. With the Fleet-Air Filters he went from 9" of restriction on the stock filter to 2" of restriction with the high-flow filter. He also noticed a difference when pulling grades. On the whole, he was quite impressed.
From July to September 2007 "AJ" ran a total of 35,314 miles, using 4,817.7 gallons of fuel with an idle time of 36.8hrs and an average speed of 52.8mph. With the addition of Fleet-Air Filters' high-flow washable air filters he had gained an increase of .431mpg bringing his new mileage to 7.330mpg. This was the largest increase in a three-month period he had ever achieved.
In late September 2007 "AJ" noticed white smoke coming from his exhaust. He knew he had a problem. He took the truck into Cleveland Bros. CAT in Erie, Pa. They discovered a blown head gasket that was allowing anti freeze into the engine, causing the white exhaust smoke he had noticed. Brian Morton, the Service Manager at the Erie, Pa. Cleveland Bros. CAT location guaranteed "AJ" that he could do what was necessary to have him back on the road in 48hrs.
After checking into a "pet friendly" motel with Fox his four footed running buddy, "AJ" got a call from Brian at Cleveland Bros. asking him if he would like to attend a diesel/biodiesel seminar that afternoon. "AJ" said, "yes." Here was an opportunity to learn about the changes in diesel fuel and the biodiesel alternatives.
The seminar lasted three hours, beginning with an outline of the overall refining process to the change to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) and the introduction of biodiesel alternatives.
Due to high sulfur emissions from petrodiesel stringent emission standards have been adopted with the transition to ULSD starting in 2006 and becoming mandatory on June 1, 2010. While effective in lowering sulfur emissions ULSD fuels result in a loss of lubricity and a lower ignition quality.
Biodiesel, an alternative to ULSD, is a non-petroleum based fuel utilizing either vegetable oil or animal fat. Blends of biodiesel and conventional diesel products are most common, using a system known as the "B" factor to indicate the amount of biodiesel in any fuel mix: fuel containing 20% biodiesel is labeled B20. Blends of 20% biodiesel with 80% petrodiesel can generally be used in un-modified diesel engines. Biodiesel successfully eliminates any sulfur emissions and has better lubricating properties but it creates a new set of problems. Most specifically, it contains problematic amounts of water, causing more smoke, harder starting and less power. Water also causes corrosion of vital system components: fuel pumps, injector pumps, fuel lines, etc. Water accelerates the growth of colonies of microbes, which can cause filters to fail or rot, plugging up the fuel system. Water also freezes forming ice crystals and speeding up the gelling of fuel. Additionally, water can cause pitting in the pistons of a diesel engine. Finally, a biocide treatment must be added each time a tank is filled to eliminate the growth of microbes.
A mix of biodiesel and ULSD results in lower emissions than either can achieve alone. It successfully increases lubricity, lowers gel point and gives a higher cetene number. Cetene is a measure of the ignition quality of diesel fuel; or cold-start ability.
Enter fuel additives. To address the problems created by ULSD and biodiesel fuels the industry has developed a number of additives, designed to increase lubricity, dissipate the water content, treat microbial growth and boost cetene rating.
At this point in the seminar, the speaker gave a demonstration of several fuel additives. He first mixed diesel, water, and the different additives. He agitated them, mixing them well and the set them down. Within in minutes several of the mixtures began to separate. He then ignited the mixtures showing how some burned dirty with a sooty flame while one burned with a clean steady flame. To "AJ" this was a dramatic demonstration of why so many of the additives he had tried himself had failed to work.
Starting in October 2007 "AJ" began using the additive that had impressed him at the diesel/biodiesel seminar. For the three months from October to December 2007 his total mileage was 38,607 miles, with 5,083.8 gallons of diesel fuel used, an idle time of 36.0hrs and an average speed of 51.4mph. Using the additive gave him another increase in his fuel mileage; this time a total of .264mpg bringing his new average up to 7.594mpg at the end of 2007. This was a total increase of .649mpg for the year 2007 and an overall increase of 1.164mpg from his starting point in April 2006.
In the next issue of Movin' Out we will detail the changes "AJ" has made in the first half of 2008 and his significant results. If you have a question for "AJ," give him a call at 781-408-9000.