Fuelling The Future

Jamaican Peter Fuentes-Afflick helps power Texaco

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer
daleyr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 17, 2019

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GASOLINE retailer Texaco has much to celebrate this year. In addition to marking 100 years in the Jamaican marketplace, the company has introduced a newer and cleaner diesel additive to consumers dubbed Techron D.

Jamaican-born Peter Fuentes-Afflick, senior staff scientist, Fuels Technology and Additives, Chevron Energy Technology Co, is part of the team responsible for the continuing development of Techron's formula.

He spoke with Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine at the GB Energy/Texaco Jamaica headquarters in New Kingston recently:

“The key difference between our chemistry (Techron) and our competitors is that the structure of the molecules causes it to work in the combustion chamber to minimise deposits. It works where the others work, but none of them can claim a minimisation of combustion chamber deposits,” said Fuentes-Afflick.

“What I can say is Techron D, as used by consumers here, minimises power loss, maximises fuel flow when compared to unadditised diesel, and minimises the foam and corrosion in diesel,” he continued.

Techron's key component is polyetheramine (PEA). It had been patented and introduced to the market from 1981 as a fuel additive concentrate. It however was not added to the three fuel brands under the Chevron banner — Chevron, Texaco and Caltex — until 1995. PEA was ground-breaking as the first deposit control additive for unleaded gas.

“I'm part of a bigger team of chemists, chemical engineers and mechanical engineers. The chemists are the ones who dream up the molecules. They make them; we access them. You have established what requirements you want as the engineer; they make the stuff and we evaluate it. In 1980, Chevron created the polyetheramine and it's still the core technology in our gasoline. The polyetheramine has evolved and as such once our internal customer, which is Chevron Retail, says to us, these are the claims we would like to make, we use the core, the Techron formulation, and work on it to say 'here is now the new formulation of which we've been through many since 1980',” he explained.

Fuentes-Afflick, 60, attended St George's College and Jamaica College in Kingston before leaving for the United States in 1979. He continued his studies in the US.

“I actually wanted to be an aerospace engineer. I started to work for General Motors (GM) designing diesel engines for locomotives,” he said.

While there, he applied for a GM Fellowship — a programme that paid half his salary and full tuition to further his education. He ended up at the University of Michigan where he studied for a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on combustion. He then applied to pursue a PhD at University of California, Berkeley. But before heading to Berkeley, the opportunity to work at Chevron arose in 1988.

“I went for two days of interviews with Chevron and I've been there ever since,” he said.

“I started at Chevron working on what they called lubricant additives. Chevron is a fully integrated oil company. It's the only oil company that has its own additive company within it, and the additive company makes additives for lubricants as well as for fuels.”

His early days at Chevron began with research on lubricant additives, for a bit, for engine oils. Then he eventually moved over to fuel additives which started his connection with Techron, as he was then recruited to do five years of marketing in Chevron's lubricant division.

“When you're in technology, sometimes you're sort of blinded by what's happening, and you want to see where all this technology goes and how it's marketed,” he said.

Fuentes-Afflick has spent the last 30 years of his career leading the worldwide technical teams responsible for the development of Techron.

“When an auto manufacturer builds a vehicle emissions certification on that vehicle is done on a brand-new clean engine. As you drive your car, you begin to build deposits that are inherently part of the combustions process,” he said.

These deposits build up on the fuel injectors and the intake valves.

“A fuel additive is like a detergent. It's used to keep stuff clean. The objective is to get the engine as close to new as possible... The technology that we're offering does an excellent job on the fuel injectors and intake valves, minimising the deposit formation in the combustion chamber.”

Fuentes-Afflick said he and his team are constantly in evaluation mode.

“It's about what is the problem you're trying to solve. Can you solve it with what exists? Or if you can't solve it with what exists, are you working on something new? And the answer to all of that is yes for Techron.”


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