Berzelius first used the word 'catalysis' in 1835, to summarise the effect on a number of reactions of the addtion of a substance which was able to speed up the reactions but itself remain chemically unchanged. Nowadays a catalyst is better described as :
'A substance which will alter the rate of a chemical reaction, whilst itself remaining chemically unchanged at the end of the reaction'
Whilst catalysts are now in everyday use, particularly in the process industries, much is still unknown about how they actually work. Therefore to many scientists, the field of catalysis is considered to be a 'black science'.
Henry Broquet's development of the fuel catalyst in 1941, whilst stationed with the RAF in Murmansk, Russia, owes much to the prior knowledge and experience of the Russian scientists in his team, of tin catalysis. In the 1940's metal catalysts were also beginning to be widely used for coal liquifaction and petroleum refining. It was found that the metal catalyst could be used to control the speed and result of breakdown reactions of coal and petroleum products. Tin, which is one of the constituents of Broquet, featured quite prominently in this work and the use of a tinplate grid as a catalyst was patented for the first UK coal liquifaction plant. Today tin and other metals are commonly used as catalysts for many processes including those involved with fuels , oils and plastics.
Whilst research on the fuel catalyst is ongoing, it is now considered by many to act as a heterogeneous catalyst when immersed in hydrocarbon fuels. With the Broquet pellet being in solid metal form, and the reactant being the liquid hydrocarbon fuel. The idea of chemically modifying the fuel is not new and the oil companies themselves introduce additives for a number of reasons including octane enhancing, anti-oxidants, metal deactivators, surfactants and deposit modifiers.
It is widely recognised that dissolved trace metals occur in all fuels and it has been established that these wiill promote various detrimental oxadative processes. Whilst iron, zinc and lead can also promote oxidative breakdown of hydrocarbon fuels leading to the formation of sludges, cokes and gums, copper and it's compounds have been shown to be the most active instability promoters. These metals are either naturally occuring contaminates, or have been picked up during transportation and storage. Broquet, when in the fuel will inhibit the effect of these trace metals, allowing a more controlled and faster flame front.
In storage, fuel will continue to deteriorate, due to evaporation, oxidation, micro-organism growth and corrosion. Therefore the Broquet effect is again very important in not only stabilising the stored fuel, and retarding the oxidative degradation reactions, but also at the same time, converting the metals to oxides which can act as oxidation catalysts and aid combustion.
The overall effect of the Broquet fuel treatment catalyst when fitted into the fuel system of any engine running on a hydrocarbon-based fuel is to proporagate a quicker and more stable flame front. This enables more of the fuel mixture in the combustion chambers to be usefully burned and therefore less is wasted down the exhaust pipe or converted to carbon deposits, waxes or gums in the combustion chambers. The benefits to the driver, or operator, of the vehcile/vessel, are an increase in power, or improved fuel economy (depending upon how the additional energy is used, reduced emissions, and cleaner combustion zones and components.
More dramatic improvements are noticeable when Broquet is fitted to older engines, due in part to the 'cleaning effect' on the carbon deposits formed on the combutions zones and components. Idealy Broquet should be fitted to the fuel system of an engine when new. In doing this the engine is protected from the effects of poor and incomplete combustion (ie abrasive effects of hard carbon deposits) and the workload of catalytic converters and particulate filters is reduced due to the reduction of emissions. Broquet therefore forms an ideal and natural partnership with these, and in reducing their workload, increases their active life.
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