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Fueling Up Baltimore's Economy

Orange County Choppers Paul Teutul Sr. built a bike for Baltimore's Monster Diesel - Arianne Teeple
Orange County Choppers Paul Teutul Sr. built a bike for Baltimore's Monster Diesel - Arianne Teeple

Ask Lou Petrucci, vice president of Monster Diesel, why Baltimore is a great city and its almost as though he can't contain his enthusiasm.

"Baseball. Football. Crabs. Concerts. Everything like that. And so Baltimore quickly became home to me."

Petrucci, a Pennsylvania native, moved to Baltimore in 1988 when he worked at Black & Decker. Coming from a small town in Pennsylvania where he had always lived he says his it just couldn't offer the same things that Baltimore does.

He loves his adopted home so much that he believes that he and the Cockeysville-based Monster Diesel can help not only revive the city's manufacturing sector but help the entire nation find its manufacturing roots once again.

Making a monster

Alkane, the brainchild of Dr. Mat Zuckerman and Petrucci, is in the fuel additive business. Its first product, Monster Diesel was unveiled in April 2009. The all-in-one product is designed to significantly increase engine power and gas mileage while also eliminating engine knock and decreasing engine wear as well as harmful emissions.

However if Petrucci is right, then Monster Diesel could help revolutionize the Baltimore economy and help the U.S. down the path to energy independence. But why fuel additives?

"We have an energy crisis in this country and Dr. Zuckerman is committed to trying to find a solution to that crisis. If you look at Maryland, we import [almost all] of our energy. We're trying to make Maryland an energy independent state. We could reverse the pipeline and start sending the fuel to Texas," Petrucci explains.

The U.S. is responsible for consuming some 25 percent of the world's oil supply each year, a large part of which is burned as diesel fuel in tractors, trains, trucks, ships, moving goods and people around.

"There are a lot of problems associated with diesel fuel. And one of the theories we have is that when you solve a problem with a product, you're going to have success. That's what our product does it solves the problem with diesel fuel. So, that's what we're trying to do first. Maryland is a great market to get started in," he notes.

Bringing manufacturing back

Prior to starting Alkane, Petrucci had worked with Zuckerman on an earlier business. "I was basically working out of my home and being pretty much alone. We sold our interest in that company and then Dr. Zuckerman called me and wanted to start a new company."

One of Petrucci's conditions for this new endeavor was that he "really did not want to do this alone this time." Zuckerman, according to Petrucci, thrives in the mobile office environment, working from cafes and coffee shops, but Petrucci needed more than that.

"Although we had great success there was something missing. And what was missing was the culture and the camaraderie you get when you're working with other people. So, I asked him, he lives in California, if we did this together if I could set up our headquarters in Baltimore. He was gracious enough to allow me to do that."

In time with multiple visits to Baltimore under his belt, Zuckerman has come to love the city as well, says Petrucci.

"Baltimore is just an amazing cross section of America. We have everything here. We have water. We have trucking and transportation. We have industry. We have so many great things here. Not to mention, the people. It's a very hardworking, blue collar area. It's just perfect for rebuilding a manufacturing base back in the United State of America. And, that's what we want to do. We want to rebuild the manufacturing base."

According to Petrucci, though Baltimore County Public Schools are some of the best in the state, if not the country, some 30 percent of graduates do not go on to seek a college degree or even a associate's degree from the county's community college system.

"Those 30 percent need manufacturing jobs. Jobs they can go to after high school and have for their life, the way their father and grandfather did. Those jobs don't exist anymore and that's what we're trying to bring back."

Bringing the jobs back from China and other offshore locations is just part of it though.

Changing the world one engine at a time

Monster Diesel is a crude oil free diesel fuel additive which reduces emissions and increases mileage per gallon by as much as 15 percent when added to regular diesel fuel. According to Petrucci, using the additive lessens the environmental impact and cost of operating diesel powered vehicles, boats, and machinery.

The additive also boosts diesel fuel's energy by 10 percent for increased power and mileage per gallon; reduces engine wear by as much as 40 percent; winterizes diesel fuel to allow low temperature operation, preventing gelling and eliminating the need for expensive #1 diesel fuel; boosts the cetane number by 12.5 percent -- twice the boost of premium gas over regular; eliminates engine knock; provides corrosion control in the fuel system; and finally, supplements fuel to make up for the loss in lubricity that occurs when using ultra low sulfur diesel fuel

It also changes black exhaust to white by establishing and maintaining the engine's original fuel injection pattern to burn the fuel more completely.

"It does that by burning more particulates. So, instead of the particulates going out the exhaust, you're burning them for usual energy. When they get burned you get better fuel economy and reduce raw soot by 38 percent," he explains

That, in turn, reduces harmful fuel emissions by 23 percent. Lower emissions equal better for the environment, making Monster Diesel an environmentally-friendly product, Petrucci notes.

"When you're going up a hill you'll feel the difference in power going up that hill. Then you'll have 40 percent less wear on the engine because its burning cleaner. It's cleaner, more complete combustion," he adds.

The proof is in the chopper

But, don't just take Petrucci's word for it. They company's scored big recently when after hearing positive things about the additive Paul Teutul, Sr. star of The Discovery Channel's reality show "American Chopper", and owner of Orange County Choppers in New York State, agreed to create a custom "Monster Diesel Chopper."

Teutul, who receives hordes of requests for custom choppers, says that it was the quality of the product that convinced him to build his first diesel-powered motorcycle.

"They have us a couple cases of their product. We, of course, put it on the shelf because everybody gives us something. But, the guys at work started using it and then they started talking about noticing a big difference," he explains.

Teutul started using the additive and became a believer and decided to build the bike.

"I just thought it would be a good mix for us to work on. I think that more diesel powered bikes using Monster Diesel would be something in the near future that I think would go over real well," he says.

Green job future

Right now, Monster Diesel is manufactured and bottled in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The company plans to move their operations from Pennsylvania to Baltimore in several phases. The first step will shift the bottling and distribution to Baltimore. Next, Alkane will move its Monster Diesel manufacturing operations to the city. In the third and final phase the company will begin making and distributing a gasoline additive and a synthetic fuel.

"When you add up the plan and the amount of personnel needed to do that over the next five years, you're talking about 3500 jobs. We expect to create 50 jobs in the next 12 months, in manufacturing and distribution, sales, marketing, finance and administration," says Petrucci.

The upcoming gasoline additive is similar to ethanol and won't be a packaged additive, but one blended at the pump. Syn-Fuel, the company's synthetic fuel for which it filed for a patent with the U.S. Patent Office in June 2009, like Monster Diesel will burn cleaner and offer more power.

Environmentally, Petrucci says that the company's additives and alternatives fuels will be more than a simple stop gap measure until technologies including electric and hydrogen cars hit the road.

"Maybe it will just be a wash. Maybe you won't even need them."

With outsized aspirations like that, it's no wonder the company dubbed its first product a "monster."

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