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Fuel additive tough to sell amidst frenzy for biofuels

Pat Patera

“Have you seen the inversion layer here?” asks Ernie Gisler, president and chief executive officer of Nano Fuels Technology, LLC. “It’s like Sacramento and it’s getting worse.”

Retired from an East Coast construction business, Gisler thinks he could make a major difference by convincing people to use a product he represents: NFT 4055, a fuel additive for gas and diesel fuels.

But legislatively mandated use of biofuels gets in his way.

Past customers confirm the company’s claims that it reduces pollution and extends mileage, so increased sales sound like a slam-dunk. Instead, Gisler is losing business. He blames it on biofuel requirements established by the Nevada Legislature that require public-sector fleet operators to use 5 percent biodiesel.

For instance, says Gisler, “Washoe County School District saved money, but the state mandate now must come first.”

Todd Duncan, fleet maintenance supervisor at Washoe County School District, says, “We used it for four years, from 2000 to 2004 and had positive feedback. Smoke in the yard was much less in the wintertime. We saw an 8 to 10 percent increase in fuel mileage, but we’re not using it because it’s not considered by the state as an alternative fuel.”

Now, says Duncan, the school district uses 5 percent biodiesel in the buses. Using the products in combination is not an option because it would mean paying 6 cents a gallon for NFT, on top of a 15-cent-a-gallon surcharge for biofuel.

The story was the same at Citifare (since renamed RIDE), operated by the Regional Transportation Commission.

Joe Jackson, director of maintenance for RIDE, says, “Citifare used it for three years, from 2003 to 2006. We saw a 5 percent increase in miles per gallon. We didn’t do a lot of testing with emission standards because we already met the mandated minimums.”

The agency switched to biodiesel in July with the new state requirements.

“We stopped using NFT because we wanted to do a virgin test using biodiesel,” Jackson says. The agency will analyze results in June, after a test that covers all four seasons.

Model Dairy, a private company that isn’t covered by the legislative mandate, continues to use the additive. Danny Barnes, distribution manager, says the company has used the additive for about eight years, and drivers reported lower emissions and better power.

Model Dairy fuels 60 tractors and 70 trailers, a delivery fleet that travels 180 miles east to Winnemucca and 240 miles south to Independence.

The additive is used extensively in other countries, says Gisler, whose Reno company represents the product developed in 1993 by George Zervopoulos of Fuelon International Inc.

A personal acquaintance of Zervopoulos, Gisler took over the abandoned Reno distributorship, previously named Pollution Solutions Inc.

How the product works: “We break the hydrocarbon molecules in fuels to reduce pollution,” says Gisler.

A drum of NFT 4055 treats 55,000 gallons of diesel fuel at a cost of about 6 cents a gallon.

Documented proof of the product is scant.

Gisler says Zervopoulos tested the product extensively through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But to keep the recipe secret, he agreed not to use the test results for public promotion. So the proof must come from field trials conducted by individual customers.

Gisler, meanwhile, hopes to get a grant or other funding to test and document his claim of up to 98 percent particulate reduction. And he hopes the company can develop a similar product to reduce diesel pollution from railroad locomotives.

Despite the missionary zeal with which Gisler touts the environmental benefits of NFT 4055, he admits to being stymied by others’ refusal to listen.

“When it was deciding about issues, we weren’t allowed to be heard in the Nevada State Legislature,” he says, and postulates that big oil lobbyists conspired to shut him out.

Attempts to get the product into the massive machines of mining fleets failed, he says. “People at mines lost their jobs as soon as they started testing.”

Jonathan Brown, director of regulatory and environmental affairs at the Nevada Mining Association, says, “Members within our association have used it. Our industry faces underground safety regulations imposed by the Mining Safety and Health Association, a federal agency regarding allowable levels of diesel particulate matter in underground mines. Off-the-shelf technology recommended by the agency does not always get us where we need to be.”



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