An outline history of Carbonflo and fuel catalyst technology since 1928
Carbonflo was almost certainly the world’s first commercial fuel catalyst product when it first appeared in the 1960’s but the technology dates back long before then…
Carbonflo is based on the catalytic chemical influences that metals (in particular tin) cause to fuel and oil, and relevant patents and scientific papers date as far back as 1928.
During World War Two the R.A.F. used an early version of the technology so that Hurricane aircraft that otherwise needed high-octane fuel could use low-octane fuel instead.
In the 1960’s a British engineer named Henry Broquet who had been involved with the RAF’s wartime use of the technology invented and patented Carbonflo. This meant that Carbonflo became what was almost certainly the world’s first commercially available product of its type.
Broquet was living in South Africa where Carbonflo was reportedly used to great effect to cut toxic emissions from underground mining equipment and reduce carbon deposits in large marine engines. However disputes about marketing rights led to its disappearance from the marketplace for 20 or so years.
1980’s to date:
In the 1980s the commercial disputes were settled and Broquet re-launched Carbonflo, this time in Britain. It was quickly reported successful in saving fuel and cutting pollution in both petrol and diesel engines alike. However it was in the late-1980s that a major development in the oil industry led to Carbonflo becoming of intense public interest.
The development was the introduction of unleaded petrol to replace leaded 4-star. Unleaded was thought of as a ‘green’ fuel and cost less than 4-Star, and this meant that everyone wanted to use it. Problem was that millions of petrol engines at that time were designed for leaded operation only, and attempts to run them on unleaded frequently resulted in ‘pinking’, over-heating, and physical damage. But Henry Broquet saw that the problems caused by unleaded were akin to those the RAF had faced in Russia in WW2 and realised Carbonflo would solve them admirably and at very low-cost.
Carbonflo was then promoted as a perfect low-cost route to unleaded ‘conversion’ and in next to no time it was taken up by police forces, ambulance services, local authority fleets, taxi operators, commercial fleets, reputable auto dealerships, and many others.
Records show that users included Hampshire Police and the ambulance services of Lancashire, Hampshire, West Midlands, Isle of Wight, Shropshire, East Sussex, Bristol, Mid-Glamorgan, Leicestershire, Salisbury, Ribble Valley and East Dorset Ambulance to name a few. Meanwhile Glasgow City Council equipped its entire 1,000-strong fleet with Carbonflo and there were very large numbers of other users besides.
With utmost consistency engines that otherwise could not have withstood use of unleaded at all were reported as running at least as well and often far better on unleaded with Carbonflo than they had previously on leaded, with better economy more power and reduced emissions.
This was a repeat of what had happened with the RAF in World War Two: “highoctane performance from low-octane fuel”. Carbonflo was also widely used by commercial haulage fleets and fishing trawlers in heavy diesel applications to save fuel and cut pollution and again clear-cut benefits were consistently reported.
The product was also tested under controlled scientific conditions at Leeds University Department of Fuel & Energy by Reader in Combustion Engineering Professor G. E. Andrews, Bsc, PhD, CEeng, MIMechE, memASME, MSAE for effects on toxic emissions produced by petrol and diesel engines alike and substantial reductions were recorded.
The reduced emissions included Carbon Monoxide and Unburned Hydrocarbons, both of which are by-products of inefficient combustion, together with NOx which is an especially toxic by-product of high-temperature combustion. Therefore Professor Andrew’s tests were also scientific evidence of better combustion which in addition to reduced pollution is always bound to result in better economy.
In Autumn 1989 Carbonflo was featured on the BBC TV motoring program ‘TOP GEAR’ and fleet managers who had adopted it were interviewed and confirmed the benefits.
Henry Broquet then sold his manufacturing secrets which led to more companies offering fuel catalyst products and just like Carbonflo they also found themselves with large numbers of impressed customers. We can only guess at just how many. For example, 1,000 vehicles belonging to Thames Water and another 1,000 belonging to Midland Electricity Board were fitted with fuel catalysts, again resulting in “high-octane performance from low-octane fuel”. Also like Carbonflo many of the other fuel catalyst products were objectively tested at UK establishments such as City of London and Southampton universities.
Clear-cut positive effects on toxic emissions, fuel consumption and power output were recorded under controlled conditions, whilst analysis of valve seats showed deposits of molecular tin giving a likely explanation of why valve seats of ‘leaded only’ engines were able to withstand unleaded petrol.
Elsewhere in the world fuel catalysts have been subjected to extensive objective tests relevant to their reported attributes and have been used in every conceivable application. The tests and trials have happened under various different company names meaning they have not appeared as a congruous entity, which is one reason why they remain unknown to most people.
Collectively however they give vast amounts of repeatable information concluding that the technology works. One of the fuel catalyst companies was Comtec.
The original concept of Henry Broquet in the 1960’s was to use Carbonflo to cut maintenance on large marine diesel engines and Comtec drew upon the 25 year experience of David Butt in further developing the technology for this specific application. This meant that Comtec became the only device of this type designed specifically for large diesel engines.
It is different because it uses sound engineering calculations based on the fuel flow rate in lbs/hp/hr, engine speed (slow speed, medium speed or high speed diesel engines) and rated BHP using Marine diesel, LFO, IFO, HFO and blended fuels.
It has an extensive track-record of success in the heavy diesel arena having earned the support and endorsement of government departments in Iceland and Nova Scotia where large numbers of ships benefited. Comtec has now merged with Carbonflo to offer specialist expertise in heavy diesel applications.