Visiting the Shell Technology Center, Part 1: The Rise of Additives [w/video]

Filed under: Etc., Technology

A building at the Shell Technology Center - Houston

Two of the most important additions to a car are also two of the most commonly ignored: gasoline and tires. Companies pour staggering amounts of money, energy and resources into designing, engineering and gaining percentile improvements in automobiles, and what they get in return from consumers is a staggering amount of “Which one is cheapest?”

So when Shell invited us to its Technology Center near Houston, TX for a closer look at its V-Power premium gasoline, we went for the chance to see the massive amounts of engineering and science that Shell (like other oil companies) puts into formulating its trademark gas – the same engineering and science that almost no one cares about.

It wasn’t the trip we expected to take, nor is this the article we expected to write.

Then it came time to commit our findings to the Internet page. That’s when we discovered the massive amount of misinformation on the web about oil companies and gasoline, comical in its breadth and detail, featuring a skepticism reserved for those industries that can be preceded by the word “Big” – as in Big Oil, Big Banking, Big Pharma. The relationship between them and the public is not just “We need you, but we don’t really trust you,” it is, “We need you, but we’re suspicious of everything you say, especially if you’re trying to get us to buy something more expensive. Then we know you’re lying, you [expletive] [expletive] [expletive].”

It wasn’t the trip we expected to take, nor is this the article we expected to write. Originally, all we expected to talk about was some of the technology and effort put into gasoline. But during our research, we realized that there is such wild mistrust of every oil company, including Shell, that we couldn’t get straight to the explosive bits without explaining the purpose of gasoline detergents and additives.

So we’ve broken this story into two parts. Today’s installment attempts to explain why gasoline not only makes your engine run but also coats intake valves and combustion chambers with carbon buildup, and dirties the motor oil. The second installment will address the push for additives that came with the mass introduction of fuel injected engines in the 1980s, the federal mandates for gasoline (all automotive gasoline, not just Shell’s), the introduction of the Top Tier Gas designation and then the arrival of V-Power because of Shell’s work with the Ferrari Formula One team.

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Visiting the Shell Technology Center, Part 1: The Rise of Additives [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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