Lots of people ask what toll blending is, and are curious about how, and why, it’s used to make general automotive and motorsport fuels.
Toll blending is the industry name for custom blending. It’s used not just in fuel production, but in other industries such as chemicals – in fact, wherever there’s a need to make up special formulations that either have particular characteristics or need to be made from specified ingredients.
Sometimes, special equipment is needed, or the process may require particular expertise in order to achieve the desired end product. If you’re a car manufacturer, or a Formula 1 racing team, you may not have this expertise in house, so you use a specialist producer of custom and motorsport fuels, and send the toll blending job to them. This is particularly the case for the motorsports industry that buys in specialist fuel blending expertise when they have a particular requirement. This is what Coryton does for clients in the automobile, aviation and motorsports industries.
Why do motorsports need special batches of fuel for automotive business?
But what are the motorsports teams and their racing car engine designers hoping to achieve by ordering a batch of custom blended fuel?
The answer lies in the need for consistent quality and a fuel specification that will deliver the ultimate in high performance. However, rapid development is important too, because the demands of the sport can change rapidly. A small, specialist fuel development company can offer a much faster service than a large oil company, which in any case, wouldn’t have the expertise available. Toll blending also offers the flexibility of being able to produce small fuel batches for testing and evaluation or larger amounts for use in vehicles.
Blending – more complicated than it sounds
Blending sounds like a relatively simple operation, but it isn’t – a modern fuel for use in cars may have 15 different hydrocarbons blended together, to produce exactly the performance that is required. The blending processes can vary according to the requirements of the final product. Some fuels are blended in tanks, in large batches. Others are blended in the pipe, using a manifold system. For others, one fuel ingredient is injected into the mix, and the turbulence in the mix is used to blend the components together.
Any number of special ingredients can also be added to produce specific properties in the fuel. For example, anti-oxidants, octane enhancers, rust inhibitors, detergents, metal deactivators and innovative new ingredients may be added at various stages.
The fuel specification for consumer cars may emphasise fuel economy, emissions and other criteria, whereas the specification for blended motorsport fuels will seek high performance, consistency, safety and other features.
Cutting edge innovation in engines drives the need for high performance and innovative fuel blends. But with teams constantly striving to get the edge over their rivals, new blends are often a closely guarded secret, stored in bonded warehouses under secure conditions.