How Important is Fuel Quality?
The question for those depending on emergency power remains, “How important is preparation?”
History shows us that fuel quality has not been a priority in storm season preparation and yet bad fuel quality accounts for 90% of diesel engine failures. If a fuel quality management program is not a part of storm preparation, then disaster is likely.
Fuels have a very short lifespan compared to those a decade ago. A fuel quality management program should be a major part of an emergency operations plan and not a last minute thought. Once the storm is off your coast, it is too late to think about. Call Dixon Pumps and ask the experts what can be done. Or check out our website for more information.
One of the constants in the petroleum equipment industry is corrosion. THe problem continues to cost the industry billions of dollars each year. When I talk with tank owners, they think that corrosion is a result of moisture. Although that is a contributing factor, the real culprit is microbial contamination.
All fuel has some level of contamination. If left uncheck and unmanaged, the fuel will continue to degrade at an alarming rate. Microbial influenced corrosion or MIC results in damage of varying degrees. As microbes reproduce in the fuel, their waste by-products continue to disperse throughout the fuel system. The waste is likely acidic. Acidic sludge and slime will accumulate at the bottom of the tank. This acidic layer, its dispersants and off-gassing vapor cause damage.
Fact – acid on metal equals corrosion. Over time, if left unattended, the microbial growth within the fuel system will result in accelerated corrosion. The corrosion will be evident inside the tank and outside the tank on the fuel system components. STP components in the sumps, tank risers and dispenser parts are all affected. Eventually a catastrophic event could occur resulting in a release of fuel into the ground. At the very least, higher maintenance costs to equipment will result both for the fuel system owner and the equipment the fuel is being pumped into.
What can be done? First, take regular bottom samples. Be proactive rather than reactive. This will save you both time and potential liability. Start managing your fuel and saving money.
Hurricane season is almost upon us. Are you ready? Did you know bad fuel is the main reason for generator failure during an emergency? If you do not have a fuel quality management program in place then you are already at risk. An adequate program includes monthly fuel sampling, quarterly fuel testing, biocide treatments plus annual fuel and tank cleaning. Diesel fuel has a limited shelf-life and must be managed for quality.
Monthly bottom sampling of all fuel tanks is the first step. This is the easiest and most cost effective way to visually verify fuel quality. Only a sample taken from the bottom of the tank and preferably close to the end of the tank where fuel is pulled will give the most accurate results. If there is a problem, the fuel will fail a visual test. Diesel fuel should be clear and free of contamination. If contaminants are present then additional measures are necessary like fuel and tank cleaning. Dixon Pumps manufactures the equipment to keep you tank and fuel clean and dry. Call us today or check out our website.
WOW…. This sample was pulled from a fuel depot at a very large county school bus garage system. They called in a panic saying they had big increases in bus maintenance. The lead mechanic indicated that they could not keep injectors for their bus engines on the shelf. Buses that were almost new were breaking down. What was the cause – BAD FUEL! Fuel depots were surveyed and samples were taken of each tank. Not one passed. They were all just as bad as the next. One sample that contained bio-diesel had turned rancid.
Unfortunately, this is the story often witnessed. Unaware that fuel has a very short life span and is associated with an assortment of problems if left unmanaged, many tank owners and operators are experiencing the same problem. FACT – fuel must be managed! Water, contaminants and microbial growth are all a serious problem. If a fuel quality management program is not in place, then bad fuel will almost certainly cause catastrophic increases in equipment and engine maintenance resulting in failure and liablities.
First, take a good bottom sample of the fuel. If the visual sample is failing, then something must be done to clean the tank and fuel. Minimally contaminated fuel might be mediated with chemical additives. However, it is likely tank and fuel cleaning must be done which often includes a fuel additive or biocide. Check out Dixon Pumps website. We can provide you with the cleaning equipment and the training to take care of the problem. Don’t have a fuel sampler, go to our online store and purchase one. In need of biocides or quality fuel additives, we also sell Biobor products.
What is wrong with ethanol? Answer, nothing. However, there are complications or concerns when blended with fuel. Equipment compatibility is the first thing that comes to mind. Soft metals like zinc or brass may not be compatible in fuel levels containing more than 10% ethanol. Sealants, adhesives, polymers and fiberglass can all have compatibility problems with ethanol.
While ethanol blends well with fuel, it also mixes well with water. If water is available, it will attach itself to ethanol. If there is enough water present, then the water will drag the ethanol out of the fuel. Known as phase separation, the problem exists and creates regular problems with fuel system operators. Filtration and correction is possible but it can be costly and time consuming.
Ethanol also accelerates corrosion on steel fuel system components. One would think this is only a problem with gasoline, but diesel systems have the same issue. The 2016 EPA study on corrosion identified ethanol cross-contamination in over 90% of its diesel samples. The problem is so serious that there have been an unprecedented increase in low flash reports among those sites inspected by the state of Georgia.
What is the answer? The answer is diligence. The tank owner must have a fuel quality management program in place that includes regular fuel sampling, fuel testing and cleaning. If you do not have a program in place, contact Dixon Pumps and ask the experts what needs to be done.