COMING up with a new fuel product for Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s domestic marketing arm Petronas Dagangan Bhd, often means looking at the best of Formula 1 and retail fuel technologies, and determining how best to utilise these advantages.
For Petronas’ oil business fuel technology manager Chan Ming Yau, research and development is a cornerstone in product improvement, such as creating the new PetronasPrimax 95 Advanced Energy Formula.
“We started work on Primax 95 Advanced Energy Formula about two or three years back, and every year we come out with new initiatives and products,” he explained.
Taking Primax 95 Advanced Energy Formula as an example, Chan said emphasis was laid on the new fuel being able to clean engines, creating a finer fuel spray and minimising friction.
“Basically, these three points are the most salient when looking at creating a more energy-efficient fuel formula.
“By cleaning the engine, you enhance fuel delivery, while a finer fuel spray means more efficient combustion and energy release, while reducing friction means less energy is lost,” he pointed out.
Developments, he said, were often the result of using new developments in both F1 and retail/mass market, where the technologies often complemented each other.
One instance, Chan pointed out, was the emphasis on developing more efficient fuels with weight savings in mind, a concept brought over from the racing end, which the Fuel Technology also worked on in collaboration with Mercedes AMG-Petronas’ F1 racing team.
Thus far, the Mercedes AMG-Petronas team have completed the races won this year with 30% less fuel compared to 2013.
Likewise, the usage of commercial technology in F1 racing, especially with regards to engine types, has also made Chan and his researchers examine fuel chemistries in order to provide the racing team with the same amount of power or more, but on smaller, lighter engine blocks.
Both retail and the F1 fuels used are of similar composition, but with varying chemical percentages.
Engine technology is also a factor in fuel efficiency, meaning that Chan and his subordinates have their work cut out for them in coming up with a better, more energy-efficient fuel.
“Engine improvement rates are very fast, as automobile makers are also looking to create more energy-efficient engines.
“New engines increase fuel efficiency in double-digit percentages, meaning that there is only so much we can do, hence even a six to seven percent increase is an improvement from previous fuels,” said Chan.
“Testing on new potential fuel chemistries are not just done at Petronas’ research facilities in Malaysia or at the Mercedes AMG grounds in Germany, but also in independent, accredited laboratories as well.”
The bar for energy effiency, he added, was constantly being raised, hence the continuous R&D process.
“The fuel economy for each driver will not be the same for each person, due to driving styles and traffic situations, but we did tests with the new Primax 95 on both popular Malaysian and foreign car models commonly found on local roads, and the fuel savings were evident,” said Chan.
He added there would be newer versions of Petronas’ Ron 97 and diesel products to be released in the future.