Caltex Euro 4M RON 97

With the mandated introduction of Euro 4M RON 97 petrol in stations across the country yesterday, September 1, there are bound to be many questions by the public regarding the new grade, which replaces the current Euro 2M fuel but retailing at RM2.35 per litre – 10 sen cheaper than Euro 2M RON 97 last month – as part of the new September fuel prices.

Chevron Malaysia Limited, which markets fuel and lubricants under the Caltex brand in Malaysia, recently held a media workshop explaining the finer points behind Euro 4M petrol, roping in product engineering lead Greg Engler to give an insight into the specifications and benefits of the new Caltex Premium 97 with Techron.

First things first – Euro 4M fuel is a bit of a misnomer. The European emissions standards, as its name suggests, only concern the stuff coming out of your vehicle’s tailpipe, and have nothing to do with the stuff that you put in it.

Instead, European fuels are regulated through a separate set of standards – EN 228:2004 in the case of “Euro 4” petrol. These allow vehicles equipped with the proper emissions control equipment to meet the emissions standards they were designed for. Among others, EN 228:2004 calls for a sulphur content of 50 parts per million (ppm) – 10 times less than Malaysia’s current “Euro 2” standard of 500 ppm.

Caltex Euro 4M RON 97 Q&A 3

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The low sulphur content is important, as the combustion of sulphur-rich fuel produces sulphur dioxide, which reacts with water and oxygen in the atmosphere to create sulphuric acid and sulphurous acid, components of acid rain.

Cars with catalytic converters have issues with sulphur, as well, as it can cause catalyst poisoning. The element tends to coat the precious metals of the catalyst – used to convert harmful carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and unburnt hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and water – compromising the component’s effectiveness over time.

This is a particular problem with the advent of newer emissions standards, which have strict durability requirements – cars designed for Euro 4 regulations must be still be able to meet the standards for harmful emissions at least 100,000 km or five years from when the vehicle leaves the showroom. It’s clear to see, then, how the right fuel will go a long way towards helping cars achieve these stringent requirements.

Apart from sulphur content, Euro 4M fuel also calls for the amount of benzene, a carcinogen, to be reduced from 5.0 mass percent to 3.5 mass percent. Reid vapour pressure (RVP) is also down, so fuel volatility is lower too – this reduces the likelihood of the fuel vaporising, particularly in our blazing climate. In turn, this reduces the evaporative emissions that can cause health problems and air pollution.

Caltex Euro 4M RON 97 Q&A 14

The massive reduction of sulphur and benzene present a problem, however, as the removal of these components – particularly benzene – affects the octane rating of the fuel. To raise the octane rating back to RON 97, the additives that increase the octane rating in petrol have to be further reformed.

Why no Euro 4M RON 95? Well, Chevron’s refinery in Singapore – which exports Caltex fuel to Malaysia – doesn’t yet have the capability to produce low sulphur fuels in the volume required for such a big market like us (it can for the Singaporean market, which is a fraction of the size). The conglomerate is investing in the plant to build up its capacity, not just for Malaysia, but for other countries like the Philippines that are also moving towards cleaner fuel.

And no, Engler assured us that Euro 4M fuel is not in any way inferior to Euro 4 fuel used in Europe and other regions, merely one that has been localised to Malaysian climate and driving conditions, something other countries do as well. Certain nations even have different fuel types for different seasons, as what fuel works in colder climates will not necessarily work so well in warmer ones.

With that out of the way, Chevron moved to something proprietary to its own fuels. Techron is a patented fuel detergent additive that is exclusive to Caltex – as well as Chevron and Texaco brands also under the Chevron Corporation – and is incorporated in all grades of fuel.

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First introduced 20 years ago, Techron consists of polyetheramine that is claimed to prevent deposit formation at a molecular level. Contaminant build-up happens when fuel is caught in places it’s not supposed to be, such as in the tiny fuel injector holes, on top of intake valves (when fuel sprayed onto the valves dries up from the heat of combustion) or in the combustion chamber itself as a byproduct of an explosion.

Over time, these deposits gradually accumulate and decrease the engine’s efficiency, reducing power, affecting drivability and increasing the risk of knocking. Techron is claimed to clean vital engine parts of these deposits, ensuring that the engine runs at its best.

To test this, engineers took a borescope and ran it through the fuel injector and spark plug holes to evaluate the cleanliness of the valves, ports and piston tops of over 100 vehicles in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, from both Caltex users and those of competitive fuels.

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Engler showed us one car he was particularly proud with: a beat-up 1999 Proton Satria with 440,291 km on the clock, belonging to a proud Caltex user. When the boffins peered into its 1.8 litre engine, they couldn’t believe what they saw – intake valves and piston tops said to be “immaculate,” with a average intake valve deposit rating of 9.6 out of 10. While the engineers took the owner’s word (that it had never been overhauled) for it, the results were said to be par for the course for the Caltex users surveyed.

A similar assessment was done in the United States, using two Ford Focuses to test three fuel types – one with no detergent additives, one with a lower quality additive and one with Techron. The cars were run 24/7 for 80,000 km, with a borescope inspection conducted every 16,000 km. Again, the petrol with Techron aced the test, scoring intake valve deposit ratings of nearly 10 for the duration of the evaluation.

So, that’s the new Caltex Euro 4M RON 97 petrol with Techron for you. Have you given the new, cleaner high-octane petrol a try yet? Sound off in the comments section below.