According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, 90 percent of companies on the S&P 500 publish sustainability reports. This is up from just 20 percent less than a decade ago. And while sustainability reporting has become “table stakes” for public companies, any business that uses energy to make, sell and/or transport a product can be expected to hear from customers, environmental advocates and other important stakeholders with questions about how they are reducing the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to climate change.
Improving Fleet Efficiency has both economic and environmental benefits
If you manage your company’s sustainability strategy and reporting efforts, you already know that your board and senior executives may hesitate to invest dollars in projects that may move the needle on GHG reductions but don’t help the bottom line. The good news is there is plenty of opportunity for companies with sizable vehicle and equipment fleets to do both. Fuel is a massive expense line item for fleets, and using less of it not only saves the company money but also reduces the GHGs associated with extracting oil, refining it into gasoline or diesel, transporting it to filling stations and burning it.
How and where should companies invest in improving their fleet efficiency? While manufacturers (OEMs) have made tremendous strides in improving the fuel efficiency of vehicle powertrains, the capital investment in new equipment is not feasible for many fleets and owner-operators. With the average price of a Class 8 tractor close to $120,000 – and $60,000 more for a clean-burning natural gas-powered tractor — it could take a while to realize a financial return on investment, even if the environmental benefits are more immediate.
Short of the substantial investment in fleet upgrades, there’s plenty of low-hanging fruit to help companies see more immediate cost savings along with GHG improvements. That begins with the individual driver being disciplined about his or her speed on the road (if their trucks don’t have speed limiters installed per state law or corporate policy), regular maintenance and proper tire inflation. Trailers fitted with skirts and tails also help improve fuel economy by reducing aerodynamic drag. GPS-enabled route optimization software helps drivers avoid traffic, time-consuming left turns and other slowdowns and get to the dock more efficiently. And because idling trucks are the bane of both fuel efficiency and emissions controls, many companies are installing idle shutdown timers (ISTs) that cut off engine power after a set amount of time (generally 3 to 5 minutes).
Enhancing Combustion to Fuel Sustainability Gains
All the improvements under the hood, in the cab, on the trailer and in the fleet dispatch office, however, can only go as far as the quality of the fuel in the tank will allow. Unfortunately, inconsistent fuel quality is a growing gripe from equipment operators since the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel. But the right fuel additive can not only help fleet managers and owner-operators overcome fuel quality issues, but it can also take those fuel and maintenance efficiency efforts to the next level – getting companies faster down the road toward achieving their sustainability objectives.
Fuel Ox is a multifunctional fuel additive that can be added to any petroleum-based fuel. In addition to cleaning and stabilizing fuel, protecting injectors and other vital engine components, preventing corrosion and removing water, Fuel Ox contains a proprietary organometallic combustion catalyst that oxygenates and lowers the ignition temperature of fuel to produce a more complete combustion cycle. This in turn not only reduces the particulate soot that builds up in a truck’s increasingly complex emissions control system, but it also cuts GHG emissions.
Recently, globally renowned quality assurance firm Intertek studied the impact of Fuel Ox on the emissions from a diesel-powered pickup truck operating in the United Arab Emirates and reported a 20 percent reduction in CO2. It also measured nitric oxide reductions of more than 12 percent and total nitrogen oxides by more than 6 percent.
But the complete combustion cycle also means better engine performance and greater fuel economy. Over-the-road freight companies testing Fuel Ox in their Class 8 trucks report efficiency gains of 4 to 8 percent, and those gains can reach into the double digits on trucks and buses running intra-city routes and heavy equipment used at mining and construction sites.
Putting improved fuel efficiency into environmental – and economic terms
According to U.S. Department of Energy data, the typical Class 8 truck consumes approximately 11,818 gallons of fuel each year, and with 22.40 lbs. of CO2 generated per each gallon that translates to about 264,723 lbs. of CO2 per year.
Using Fuel Ox in that one truck, based on prior test results, could conserve between 472 gallons and 945 gallons a year in Fuel and remove between 10,573 lbs. and 21,168 lbs. of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. That range is roughly equivalent to the CO2 generated each year by one to two typical passenger vehicles or one to two of the average homes and, according to the Urban Forestry Network, the CO2 removed from the atmosphere by 813 to 1,628 newly planted trees.
But companies with large fleets – and as such likely under much more scrutiny for their environmental performance – can take substantial steps in reducing the environmental impact of their transportation operations. Extrapolating those savings over a 5,000-truck fleet means conserving between 2.3 million and 4.7 million gallons of diesel each year and removing 52.8 million to 105.7 million lbs. of CO2. This, in turn, is the equivalent of annually taking 5,000 to 10,000 passenger vehicles off the road, removing 5,000 to 10,000 homes from the energy grid, or planting 4 million to 8 million new trees.
The financial benefits to using Fuel Ox are also clear. With the current cost of diesel hovering near $2.40 and, considering the average fuel consumption data provided above by the Energy Department, that 5,000-truck fleet can spend upwards of $59 million each year on fuel. With the expected fuel efficiency gains from Fuel Ox, that fleet can save up to approximately $3.5 million in annual fuel cost.
Fuel Ox doesn’t just mean less “pain at the pump,” but also less pain in the maintenance shop. By enabling a more complete combustion cycle, Fuel Ox reduces particulate soot that can build up over time in a truck’s complex emissions control systems requiring time-consuming regular “regeneration” cycles and eventually thousands of dollars in diesel particulate filter (DPF) replacement costs. In the process, Fuel Ox also reduces harmful nitrous oxide gases and with them the need for expensive diesel exhaust fluid that can add thousands of dollars more a year to a truck’s operating costs. While these cost savings are harder to quantify, no doubt every fleet operator knows that they are real and can add up.
What’s the (triple) bottom line?
For any business operation, sustainability is a journey marked by continuous improvements in business practices that takes into account profits, as well as people and the planet – the “triple bottom line.” Companies constrained by the current economy can still help their companies’ triple bottom line by improving operating margins, freeing up capital to invest in attracting, retaining and rewarding employees and making significant strides toward meeting carbon targets.
Because it is highly concentrated, one gallon of Fuel Ox can treat 10,000 gallons of fuel – about 85 percent of the typical truck’s yearly consumption. It comes in package sizes ranging from single-shot bottles that treat a single tank of diesel fuel to one-gallon containers that can be added to tanker trucks and 55-gallon drums that can be added at fuel storage facilities and terminals.
Companies interested in testing Fuel Ox in their fleets and heavy machinery or retailing Fuel Ox products may call Alec Taylor, Fuel Ox director of operations, at (844) 8FUELOX for a consultation. To learn more, please visit www.FuelOx.com and follow on Facebook at facebook.com/FuelOx/, LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/Fuel-Ox-LLC/ and Instagram at instagram.com/FuelOx/.