The benefits of high cetane diesel fuel

Mark Dehner is GROWMARK's marketing manager for refined and renewable fuels.

Posted on: 10/4/2012 1:00:00 AM
Both new and old engines can benefit from higher diesel fuel cetane levels. Cetane plays an important role during the combustion process and helps users get the most value from every gallon of ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) used.

What is cetane? The cetane value of diesel fuel is an indicator of how readily and completely the fuel will burn in the combustion chamber.

Generally speaking, the higher the cetane number, the faster the fuel will ignite and the more completely it will burn. These attributes are important because as the fuel burns faster and more completely, the engine experiences greater performance and produces fewer harmful emissions.

Diesel fuel in North America, with a typical cetane number of 40-42, generally carries a lower cetane number than diesel fuels from other regions of the world.

Because of this relatively low cetane number and its negative impact on performance, many farmers and vehicle operators have found advantage in raising the cetane number by adding a cetane improver, typically 2-ethyl hexyl nitrate.

High-quality premium diesel fuels, such as FS Dieselex Gold, incorporate a very high dose of cetane improver.

This additional cetane helps cold engines start quicker, significantly improves combustion efficiency, and reduces harmful emissions. In general, the engines just work better.

High cetane fuels may even provide more power. Fuels refined with a high cetane number typically are lighter fuels and contain a lower British thermal unit (Btu) content. Studies have shown No. 2 diesel fuels with cetane improver added (vs. a naturally high cetane fuel) typically have a higher Btu content per gallon than fuels refined to a higher cetane number.

Higher Btu content means more energy per gallon and ultimately more power and better fuel economy. So, using a diesel fuel such as FS Dieselex Gold represents the best of both worlds -- higher cetane number and higher energy (Btu) content.

A high-cetane diesel fuel provides:
  • More complete combustion
  • Improved cold starts
  • Less engine noise and knocking
  • Reduced white smoke and warm-up time
  • Fewer misfires
  • Lower exhaust emissions: nitrogen oxide, hydro carbon, carbon monoxide, and sometimes particulate matter.
Contact your local FS energy specialist to learn how using a higher-cetane diesel fuel can help you operate more efficiently and improve your bottom line.
Mark Dehner is GROWMARK’s marketing manager for refined and renewable fuels. His email address is