Techron Powersports & Small Engine
Fuel Stability, Corrosion Protection, And Fuel System Cleaning With One Product
Fuel additives. We’ve all heard about them, but how many of us are actually using them? Are they worth it? Does something you just pour into your gas tank actually have the benefits so many products claim?
To find out, we approached the experts that not only have tech in their name but also have that name on nearly 8,000 gas stations across the country: Chevron. They recently launched Techron Powersports & Small Engine (Techron PSSE), a fuel additive made specifically for… you guessed it, Powersports.
We’ll let Damon Vaudrin, a Chevron Field Test Specialist, do the heavy lifting here. As someone who also happened to be an ASE Certified Master heavy-duty truck technician and certified Master Automotive Technician, he’s definitely qualified.
UTV Sports Mag (UTVSM): Damon, tell us about yourself. How long have you been at Chevron?
Damon (DV): Excited to be here! I’ve actually been into off-roading since age four when my dad started taking me out into the California mountains, so I’m happy to dig in on the subject of fuel additives and Powersports. I’ve been at Chevron for 32 years, with 28 of those spent in the research and development engine lab working on fuel additives, aftermarket fuel additives and OEM professional fuel injection and induction cleaning systems, including the formulation of the Techron Concentrate package and other professional additive formulations. As a field test specialist, the work starts upfront by understanding our customers’ needs. I take finished products to real-world fleets and job sites, generating the data to support our products’ claims. And as someone who’s into off-roading, I understand the real-world components when it comes to storing those vehicles and corrosion issues firsthand.
UTVSM: That’s definitely technical, alright. So, the question we all want to know, what exactly is Techron Powersports & Small Engine and what does it do?
DV: Techron PSSE is much more than just a fuel system cleaner that the Techron brand is known for. It’s a product designed from the ground up to be used specifically for Powersports, protecting that equipment in the environments in which they operate. It has a powerful detergent package that contains polyether amines that clean up fuel injectors, carburetors, intake valves, piston tops, and the cylinder head surface. But it’s more than just a premium detergent package. It also has a Protection Plus package that contains multiple antioxidants and unique best-in-class corrosion inhibitors. Unlike many other products that are one tank use products, Techron PSSE is a continuous use product, meaning you use it with every tank of gas. If you’re adding gas to your UTV, you should be adding this, too.
DV: Yes. That’s an easy way to say it, but there’s so much more to it than that.
UTVSM: So what does it do? Why should I use it in my UTV or off-road vehicle?
DV: All good questions. Let’s dive into the science of how we designed Techron PSSE and why we did it the way we did. That should help answer those questions.
The short answer here is Techron PSSE cleans the entire fuel system, keeps it clean, protects the metal surfaces from corrosion and extends the gasoline storage for up to 24 months. This one product does it all!
But to get into the why and the how, we first need to take a look at the way today’s fuel is made, as it can be a challenge for any equipment that doesn’t burn through it regularly like your daily driver, for example. 98% of today’s fuel in North America contains ethanol up to 10%, and it’s mandated by the government to do so. The problem with ethanol is it’s hygroscopic, which means it will pull moisture from the air. Ethanol is unique. Like other alcohols, it can be soluble in gasoline and water, but it does so only up to a point. The 90/10 mixture of gasoline to ethanol can keep about 7,000ppm of water in a solution at 70°F, and you may not even see it in the fuel. But, if that temperature gets cooler or the water concentration gets higher, you can have what is known as phase separation.
What happens in phase separation? The ethanol leaves the fuel and goes into the water, and those two head for the bottom of the fuel tank together. Ethanol is more soluble in water than gasoline and can only take so much water before it drops out of the fuel and goes with the water. The problem here is, that’s where the fuel pump or petcock is located (at the bottom) and that mixture is not flammable, because it’s not gasoline. That ethanol-water mixture at this point can run through the entire fuel system.
Now, some products claim they can prevent phase separation, but our studies have shown that by the time phase separation happens in the “real world,” you’d have to use way more additive than they claim to reverse it, and that’s basically not reasonable. One of our lab studies showed that a product that claims to do this needed twice as much additive as there was water in the fuel, and in the real world, how would you know how much water was in the fuel? Well, let’s just say you have 1% water in the fuel (10,000ppm, just slightly more than needed to cause phase separation) and had 20 gallons of fuel. To treat that, you would need half a gallon of additive at more than 80°F. Running that much water through the fuel system can be really damaging. Worst yet, almost all the other products we looked at don’t have enough corrosion protection to deal with this corrosive mixture they are trying to run through the fuel system. The only way to really resolve the issue is to remove the water-ethanol mixture at this point. Oh, and it gets a little worse. The ethanol in the fuel is a way to increase octane in the fuel at the fuel terminals.
So, after you remove the ethanol-water mixture, you’ll need to add some fresh fuel to increase the octane back up to where it was before the phase separation. If you weren’t using Techron PSSE by now, you probably have corrosion starting in on the fuel system components. Just remember, ethanol absorbs water and you can’t see it until it’s too late. And even that water you can’t see (7,000ppm) can cause corrosion.
That’s why this additive has multiple corrosion inhibitors, which are chemical compounds that we add in order to protect the metallic parts from corrosion. They work by forming a coating on the metals, which prevents the corrosive substances from accessing the metal surfaces, called passivation. Corrosion of a metal requires the presence of an oxidizing agent (an acid, base, oxygen, or sulfur) and an electrolyte (most commonly water). When an oxidizing agent or electrolyte is prevented from contacting the metal, there’s no corrosion. The corrosion inhibitors also work by reacting with corrosive materials in the neutralization process. That’s why, when used continuously, Techron PSSE provides the best in class corrosion protection.
UTVSM: I feel like you’ve got a lot more to share here. Tell me a little more about how it works.
DV: Let’s go back to the cleaning part, as we’ve already walked through the reasoning behind why we included the corrosion inhibitors. When we’re talking about clean, we’re talking about detergency.
Essentially, detergents are long-chain molecules that have a polar head and a long chain tail (think of a tadpole here). That tail is soluble in hydrocarbon fuel, and really is the way that the additives travel into the fuel to the deposit location in the fuel and intake systems. But, it’s the polar head that’s attached to the fuel additive tail that does all the work, and that’s where the science is, and why not all fuel additives are created equal.
Techron Powersports & Small Engine uses polyether amines in its package to accomplish the clean-up of the fuel system’s parts, and also has that keep clean function. Keep in mind, there are millions of these additive molecules in the fuel, searching for deposits. Once they find one, the polar head attaches itself to it. Eventually, the hydrocarbon fuel and the molecule’s tail will tear off into a piece of the deposit and carry it through the fuel system into the combustion chamber where it’s burned into basically nothing. Again, this is all happening on a molecular level, and basically how the fuel additive’s clean-up works.
But let’s also explore the keep clean component. The fuel additive’s polar head is also attracted to the metal parts in the engine. Of course, they can’t get to the metal parts until the additive removes all the deposits originally on those metal parts (part one of this process). But once the additives can get on the metal parts, they take over the metal surface and don’t allow the unwanted deposits to attach again in the future. That’s why using Techron PSSE in every drop of fuel will clean up the existing products in time and keep the fuel system clean because it’s continually being used. A clean engine is more powerful than an engine being robbed of that power by deposits built up on the intake valves, combustion chamber, or fuel injectors. It can also restore fuel economy by removing harmful fuel injectors and intake valve deposits.
UTVSM: Wow. Fuel Science 101 with Damon. I think I’m starting to understand. Just like by eating healthier foods and exercising more, we prevent our arteries from clogging up with harmful plaque build-up to keep our hearts healthy. That makes sense. On that subject of health, you had also mentioned antioxidants earlier on. How do those factor in?
DV: Let me explain. Unstable species in the fuels, in combination with heat, pressure, and exposure to air, produce types of chemicals known as free radicals, which combine to form further unstable molecules in a chain reaction. This process results in the formation of fuel insoluble gums, which then result in deposit and sludge formation…which is not good for your engine. Antioxidants disrupt this oxidative reaction via chemical processes which deactivate metal catalysts and by also disrupting the formation of these radical intermediates in a process known as termination. Special antioxidants can also be used to increase the storage stability of fuel, and the drain interval for lubricants. Or, in layman’s terms, increase your gasoline’s stability by up to 24 months, which Techron PSSE does.
UTVSM: This is fascinating. You mentioned working in the lab and testing these things out in the real world. How are you doing that? What’s going on behind the scenes that you can tell us?
DV: Besides extensive engine testing in the Chevron engine laboratory in Richmond, CA, there’s been additional testing. Our corrosion testing is ASTM 625 A and B, which is the industry standard in evaluating corrosion inhibitor products’ performance. Our product excelled in this testing. ASTM 525 is the standard for measuring antioxidant performance in gasoline, and again, we were a top performer in that testing, too. We set out to make the best product that was fit for purpose in this category. This is the product I have been waiting for, one product that will take care of my equipment in the three categories that matter: detergency, fuel stability, and corrosion protection.
UTVSM: Sounds like you’ve explored every element in creating this product. But what makes it different from other Powersports fuel additives out there on the market?
DV: I’m glad you asked. Techron PSSE is a complete cleaning and protective package for the Powersports application. It was specifically designed for it. There’s no reason to use any other additives for fuel stability, corrosion protection, or fuel system cleaning since it’s been formulated to cover all those areas in one product. Most other one tank additives only work when they’re in the fuel. Once it’s out of the tank, so is the additive. The reason we made ours to be used as a continuous use product is simple. You never know when the last tank of fuel will be used in any given season, and the fuel system is protected even if the season ends when you weren’t ready for it to end, just like many are experiencing right now. By using it all the time, it allows the corrosion inhibitors and the antioxidants to get into the fuel system for continuous protection. We at Chevron have a reputation for making products that work. It’s important that we go the extra step, and why this product was designed to be a top performer in the areas that matter most to customers: cleaning gum and varnish, corrosion protection, and fuel stability.
UTVSM: That’s definitely more science than I expected, but it just goes to show all the work you’re doing over there at the Chevron lab. Now…my last question, when can we go on a ride?
DV Anytime! I ride a modified Honda XR 600 and I use my modified Yamaha Grizzly 450 every hunting season and on my small farm. Let’s ride!
UTVSM: Well, there you have it. I think we can safely say the science is there behind Techron PSSE. So give it a try! It’s available on Amazon, Walmart.com, and AutoZone. To learn more, visit techronclean.com. Thanks, Damon!