Breathing Black Smoke

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Dodger
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Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Dodger » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:06 am

For years it's amazed me how many newer model vehicles you see belching those large plums of black smoke over here, typical of what you would see in an old un-maintained jalopy with burnt out piston rings. All this, at a time when there's so much focus on air pollution, with a large percentage of it being attributed to vehicle emissions. I came to the conclusion that it had to be either cheap low/grade motor oil, or drivers simply not changing the oil, which would be consistent with the lack of maintenance in general you see everywhere.

My son-in-law, who is a master mechanic for GM in the States, just departed Thailand with my daughter after their first visit here. When I pointed out the black smoke that I was talking about and asked for his opinion, he immediately said it had nothing to do with the oil, or for that fact, lack of engine maintenance. He said the black plumes of smoke were coming vehicles with diesel engines - not gasoline engines, and was the result of people using bad diesel fuel. He went on the explain that diesel engines can literally run on anything, and diesel fuel can be mixed with anything from water to cheap rubbing alcohol and still run. Using down-graded (diluted) diesel fuel results in either unspent diesel fuel being pushed out the exhaust system, or, burnt diesel fuel being pushed out the exhaust system. In either case, the color of the exhaust fumes will be jet black.

After he told me this I started looking more closely at every vehicle that was belching black smoke, including those monster tour buses, and sure enough, they were all vehicles with diesel engines.

One day after having this conversation with my son-in-law, I asked our Thai building maintenance man about this. His response was equally enlightening. He concurred with what my son-in-law had told me, and then told me to never buy diesel fuel from Thai-owned PTT Gas Stations because their diesel fuel is down-graded (diluted) and not good for your engine. He suggested I buy diesel fuel for my pick up truck from Shell and only Shell. which I'll always do going forward. Shell charges around 5 baht more per liter for their diesel than PTT, but it's pure diesel and very obviously better for the environment.

I have never heard anything negative about PTT gasoline. Only diesel fuel.

If half the environmental problems in Thailand are attributed to vehicle emissions, one would have to ask why they allow the largest fuel chain in Thailand to sell diluted down-graded diesel fuel which become black smoke machines. I guess that's just one of those "Unsolved Mysteries".

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Gaybutton
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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Gaybutton » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:27 am

Dodger wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:06 am
one would have to ask why they allow the largest fuel chain in Thailand to sell diluted down-graded diesel fuel which become black smoke machines.
Why do I think this may have a little something to do with the answer to that question?

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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Undaunted » Wed Oct 23, 2019 5:43 pm

“Black Smoke" comes out from every tour bus that is in Pattaya, one can only guess what they add to Pattaya’s pollution.
"In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king"

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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Gaybutton » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:57 pm

I wonder what the outcome might be if Greta Thunberg visits Pattaya.

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Jun
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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Jun » Wed Oct 23, 2019 10:35 pm

1 I would be astonished if a large oil company like PTT were to be diluting their diesel with anything that downgrades the diesel properties substantially.
Anyone could of course crudely test the smoke theory.
Assuming your diesel vehicle is in good condition, after your next fast journey, park it up and stick your foot flat down on the accelerator pedal. After a few seconds, the black smoke should clear and be hardly visible. Then next time you fill up, use PTT fuel and repeat the test.
The UK MOT test is like this for diesel engines, although there is a meter to measure the smoke.

2 I imagine poor maintenance and a lack of oil changes has a lot to do with it. Thais don't seem to plan for tomorrow. In the case of the buses, it's probably compounded by them having done very high mileages. Then ALL Thai diesel contains more sulphur than European diesel.

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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Dodger » Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:02 pm

Jun,

I used to subscribe to the same theories you describe, but not anymore.

Mandatory emission tests would immediately fail any vehicle which was belching those huge plumes of black smoke we're talking about, regardless of the source of the smoke. The fact that these vehicles continue to be permitted to pollute the environment right under the noses of the police (meant literally) should raise a red flag for everyone. Also, it's actually legally acceptable for an oil company to dilute their product, or have degradation occur, as long as the product going to the end user meets specified environmental control limits. In the U.S. all oil going to the consumer has to be EPA approved. In Thailand these limits are established, and supposedly controlled by, Thailand's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, but apparently, they're not.

Diesel fuel has a really short shelf life, especially in hot climates. If an oil company (any oil company) isn't controlling the storage, preservation and control of shelf life limits, diesel fuel can and does go bad. Bad diesel fuel can be detected with the naked eye due to black smoke being forced from the exhaust system. Even if an oil company isn't intentionally diluting its fuel, lack of control of the things I just mention has the same end result.

I'm afraid the test you describe wouldn't work, at least for me, because running bad diesel fuel through an engine may not produce black smoke for several months, and by that time the fuel injectors could be screwed up. I'm going to follow the advice of the now four Thai drivers that I've spoken with about this, and stick to Shell Oil for my diesel going forward. Shell controls it's processes in accordance with U.S. Standards. PTT controls its processes in accordance with Thai Standards. Need I say more.

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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Gaybutton » Thu Oct 24, 2019 5:12 pm

Dodger wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:02 pm
stick to Shell Oil for my diesel going forward.
What are you driving that uses diesel?

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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Dodger » Thu Oct 24, 2019 5:40 pm

Gaybutton wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 5:12 pm
Dodger wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:02 pm
stick to Shell Oil for my diesel going forward.
What are you driving that uses diesel?
A Ford Ranger Pick Up.

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christianpfc
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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by christianpfc » Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:13 pm

Dodger wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:06 am
He went on the explain that diesel engines can literally run on anything, and diesel fuel can be mixed with anything from water to cheap rubbing alcohol and still run.
...
Diesel fuel has a really short shelf life, especially in hot climates.
Diesel cannot be mixed with water.

In Germany, diesel is taxed lower than petrol, and there is no combustible liquid cheaper than diesel* that can be used to dilute diesel. In Thailand, the only thing I can imagine that is cheaper than diesel could be used to dilute diesel, and still burn, is spent cooking oil.

*except oil for heating houses in winter, which is basically diesel, but lower taxed and not allowed to use in diesel cars and colored to detect use in diesel car, i.e. police would open the tank and check the color of the liquid and fine you if it's colored.

Diesel and petrol have unlimited shelf life.

I observed black smoke coming out of cars in Thailand (don't know if diesel or petrol powered), but only for a short period, so I assume it's incomplete combustion when is run at unfavorable mixture fuel/air.

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Re: Breathing Black Smoke

Post by Dodger » Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:12 pm

christianpfc wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 4:13 pm
Diesel and petrol have unlimited shelf life.
As a rule of thumb, diesel fuel has a shorter shelf life than gasoline, especially when stored in hot climates. Considering the temperatures in diesel combustion, condensation in the combustion chamber is not possible at any time. In general, water can be introduced into the diesel combustion process. I'm not saying that the Thai gas stations are intentionally watering down their diesel, as the root cause of the problem could be related to poor storage conditions and/or lack of preservation. In any event, the results are huge plumes of black smoke polluting the environment.

The black smoke that I've been seeing does not just flow out of the exhaust for a short period as you suggest, but continuously. You'll see the smoke more clearly when a vehicle accelerates from a stopped position, but it's still there.

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