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In recent years, diesel engines have developed from harsh, smoke-billowing systems to less abrasive, eco-friendlier products, as demand for the latter increases. But improvements have resulted in a challenge to keep fuel operating at its best within the engines, says Jeff Poirier, chief operating officer at AXI International, a Southwest Florida-based fuel management firm.

“A lot of movement toward keeping fuel clean and maintaining fuel quality has come from people experiencing engine problems,” Poirier says.

The company, headquartered in Fort Myers, launched a first-of-its-kind product in April to remediate fuel systems that operate off the power grid. It joins the company’s established line of environmentally conscious fuel-maintenance and polishing products.

Designed primarily for agricultural operations, the SFM-1080 runs on solar power to remove water, particulates and fungal contamination from tanks situated on remote grounds. The product is currently being field tested, Poirier says, and the company is hoping to partner with local sugar and citrus businesses, who use fuel powered tanks to pump out excess water from fields as they flood.

AXI realized how severe the agriculture industry’s fuel-quality issues were when employees would be called to clean their engines. “[We were] going out to these spots every three or four months and their tanks were horrible,” Poirier says. The steel systems would sit idly in the depths of fields, constantly beat down upon by sun and holding water produced by the surrounding humid air.

But the SFM-1080 lets companies skip the frequent cleaning with a product that stabilizes the fuel on its own. The solar-powered pumps can maintain tanks running off the grid with ease, and they run on timers to ensure efficient use of energy.

“It just eliminates the issue with the amount of power that’s running. Keeping the clean fuel ready to burn is going to make things more efficient,” Poirier says. “You’re saving the engine and you’re helping the environment,” by minimizing the toxins that emit from a tank of dirty fuel.

The agriculture industry may have inspired AXI’s newest product, but the company serves virtually any industry using diesel fuel. Its largest clients are data centers and hospitals, and the firm has a global presence in some 70 countries, Poirier says. Poirier declined to release AXI revenue figures, but says the company is already up 100 percent from its last fiscal year.

The fuel-management firm, which comprises more than 30 employees, manufactures its own systems and products in-house. “We do our own programming, our own electric wiring. We don’t outsource very much and that allows us to tailor ourselves and be a niche in the market for a large group of customers,” Poirier says. Developing products within the facility also brings engineering-type jobs to Fort Myers.

The company eventually plans to expand its offerings in renewable energy, as it has been on the forefront of fuel cleanliness since its inception in the 1980s, Poirier says. Perhaps that’s because to company’s leaders, the concept is simple. “You wouldn’t feed your body bad food, so you shouldn’t feed your engine bad fuel,” Poirier says.

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