Motor fuels | - Total in France

The history of fuel additives

Since the beginning of the automobile industry, oil companies have always been concerned with adapting fuels to market needs. They used additives to improve the quality of fuel bases in refineries and to increase the performance of their products.

The story of fuel additives started during World War I when the society General Motors sought to reduce the rattling trend of gasoline engines. At this time, auto-ignition phenomena are frequent and very destructive for engines. In 1921, researchers T. Midgley and Th-A. Boyd discovered the remarkable anti-dastonishing properties of tetraethyl lead.

In 1923, the US Air Force adopted the lead alkyles already used in gas cars, for its planes. It will be Europe’s turn a few years later. After several decades of use, the lead alkyls will eventually be abandoned (first in the United States, from the 1970s) to be replaced by fuel bases of better quality, produced in refineries. The additives industry was born.

At the end of the 1940s, frost inhibitors were the researchers response to the problems encountered by taxi drivers during cold and wet days. The first solution (use of alcohol) was quickly replaced by so-called filmogenic agents, whose main property, detergency, will become of prime importance.

The first diesel additives didn’t really appear until the early 1960s, with the marketing of diesel technologies. These include filterability enhancers that prevent the crystallization of paraffins and the freezing of low-temperature diesel fuel, but also, as for the petrol technologies, detergents to ensure the cleanliness of engines.

Thus, since the spectacular development of the automobile at the beginning of the century, oil tankers have always been concerned to adapt the quantity and the quality of fuels to the market needs, thanks to the reformulation and improvement of the quality of fuel bases in refineries (conversion units, hydrotreatment units, etc.) and also the use of specification additives.


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