Diesel’s competitors

| April 02, 2008

About the only inherent disadvantage is that the blend has a lower flashpoint than diesel fuel and thus must be handled with the same precautions as gasoline.

An even more unusual fuel blend is Purinox, a combination of 80 percent petroleum diesel and 20 percent purified water. Water in the fuel tank normally would give one pause, as it could ruin the engine. But not with the co-solvents developed by the Lubrizol Corp. The company claims they keep the water fully dissolved in the fuel so that it doesn’t separate or settle out even when left in the tank for a month.

It sounds counter-intuitive that water would make diesel fuel burn better, but the basic idea has been around for a long time. Large power stations frequently use high-pressure steam to atomize heavy oils, and combustion is much better with steam than when using fuel pressure alone. But Purinox flopped in the United States and now is sold only in Europe.

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