Do fuel additives have a place in fuel quality management? If so, do they work? These are both loaded questions. The short answer to both questions is “yes.” There are literally hundreds of different fuel additives on the market today ranging from octane boosters to injection cleaners. When addressing the problems associated with fuel quality management, one issue remains paramount to solving, water! The presence of water in fuel is the biggest problem. Solve this and you are well on your way to cleaner fuel.
There is always water present in fuel, the questions are how much is too much and how do we reduce it to an acceptable level. Filtration is the best way. Coalescing and water separation technology is the most efficient way of dealing with water. However, today’s fuels are becoming more difficult to clean even with high quality filters and filtration systems.
The question then arises what do I do with highly emulsified fuel? Can I clean it or is it unusable? There are additives that can be used to help. If fuel becomes contaminated with water and emulsifies, the water becomes suspended in the fuel and makes the fuel cloudy. It can often require a dehazer or demulsifier additive to help drop the water out of suspension. These additives help to break the bond between the water and fuel by altering the surface tension of the fuel. The water will coalesce and fall out of the fuel, making it easier to pump off and filter.
After field testing several products commonly used on the market today, we have found one product to be excellent at dehazing or demulsifing fuel – FuelDry. Take a look at the before and after samples below.
Pre and Post testing showed the water content dropped from over 2,000 ppm to under 52 ppm. The water dropped out of the fuel and was pumped off. If you are looking for a way to help remove water or help maintain the fuel and keep it from emulsifing, email me at email@example.com for help. Even with great filtration, sometimes additives help to reduce costs by limiting downtime and helping filtration work better.
The Effects of Dirty Fuel
As fuel ages, it degrades. Contaminants accelerate fuel degradation. Water is the most damaging contaminant and is attributed to a host of chain reactions. When water is present, microbes can grow. They commonly find their home in emulsified and free water. Microbes do not colonize easily in dissolved water. However, dissolved water does effect the stability of fuel causing accelerated aging. The pictures above show serious contamination in diesel fuel. The water found at the bottom of the tank contained a high level of microbial growth, a direct result of the contamination. Bacteria and fungi (including yeast and mold) will grow wherever water is found. Most of these microorganisms are aerobic – meaning they require oxygen to live and grow. Water supplies the need.
While there are other types of microbes – anaerobic and facultative anaerobes – aerobics are the primary ones found in fuels. Anaerobic microbes do not require oxygen to survive and facultative anaerobes can live in both oxygen and non-oxygen environments. While rarer, they are sometimes found. Aerobic microbes require very little water to multiply. Small areas of condensation on a tank wall can sustain a colony of aerobes. This microbial contamination causes biodeterioration of fuel. As fuel deteriorates, a layer of biofilm forms at the fuel/water interface in the bottom of the tank. Biomass colonies can also form and suspend within the fuel layer, especially when biofuel is present.
Microbes feed off hydrocarbons. They are often referred to as hydrocarbon utilizing microorganisms or Humbugs. As they eat the fuel, they produce an acidic byproduct. The acid settles to the bottom of the tank, remains suspended in the fuel and forms an acidic vapor in the fuel system raising the acidic content of the fuel system and causing microbial influenced corrosion (MIC). One of the most prevalent acids found is acetic acid caused by Acetobacter bacteria. They generate acetic acid from ethanol. Due to cross-contamination of fuels, ethanol is found in most fuel types including diesel allowing for the reproduction of Acetobacter and the production of acetic acid.
Acid formation accelerates the decomposition of fuel especially biodiesel. The molecules of biodiesel are predominantly fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). Its breakdown usually happens slowly unless water is present. The chemical breakdown of FAME by water (hydrolysis) is accelerated in an acidic environment. As a result biodiesel has a very short shelf life.
Most problems can be minimized with a fuel quality management program. Regular fuel sampling and immediate water removal when found. A Fuel Quality Management Program helps to identify contamination problems long before they reach the level seen in the photos above. Contact Dixon Pumps for help with contamination control at 1-800-874-8976 or find additional information at our CleanFuel website.
Over the last several weeks, I have been in the field training technicians how to clean tanks and maintain clean, dry fuel. Fuel quality does not just happen all by itself. It takes a trained fuel quality technician operating a quality filtration and cleaning machine to get the job done. One of the ways Dixon Pumps differentiates itself among other fuel and tank cleaning equipment manufacturers is by providing in-field technician training. Take a look at the results of the last few training sessions.
We train technicians on the proper use of field equipment, giving them an advantage over others with little to no training. From learning how the machines operate, to proper site set-up as well as managing expectations. Some of the biggest challenges happen in the field when a technician comes across something they have never seen before. We help them to understand how common “new problems” can be in the field. Alleviating fears and instilling confidence in the process and equipment they operate helps the technician to overcome obstacles that many never do.
Our Mobile Tank Cleaning Unit, pictured above, is just one of several quality products Dixon Pumps manufactures. We believe in manufacturing quality products that are simple to operate. Combine this with the in-field training and you have a recipe for success. Let Dixon help you! Give us a call or email us for information and pricing.
The image above shows the progression of the product stream through a coalescer media. The emulsion is broken apart, filtering the solids, then forcing the minute water particles to coalesce (to consolidate or join up) into larger droplets. Gravity pulls the larger droplets to the bottom of the filter housing allowing it to be drained off during filtration. This is the first of two phases.
The second phase involves separation. A Teflon coated water separation filter is used to repel any fine droplets of water that happen to pass through the coalescer. This second stage acts as a secondary back-up forcing the water out of the product flow – not allowing it to pass through with the fuel. It works because Teflon is hydrophobic (literally, fear of water). The water repels off of the coated separator and falls down to the bottom of the filter housing.
Coalescer filters are designed to filter solids and separate two immiscible liquids (liquids that do not form a homogenous mixture – do not mix well). In this case, separating water from fuel. Dixon coalescing filters are made of several filtration layers designed to remove dirt particles prior to coalescence, thereby increasing filter life. Inner and outer layers are made of fiberglass impregnated with phenolic resin for added strength and bonding. Situated between these layers is a coalescing layer made of borosilicate microglass. Coalescer filters are commonly used in two stages along with a water separator to remove free and emulsified water from fuel and various types of oil.
In order to prevent carryover of small water particles pushed through during coalescence, a second filtration stage is used to ensure water removal. The separator is a cartridge placed between the coalescer and the outlet. The screen on the separator is a hydrophobic Teflon coated woven synthetic material which can be cleaned periodically.
Dixon’s new filtration products include coalescing and water separation. Give us a all at 1-800-874-8976 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out our online store to order filtration suppliers or find out more.
A two stage filtration system should be used where the maximum amount of water removal is required. The system also allows for fine contaminant removal. Clean and dry fuel is a must and it is accomplished by coalescing the fine droplets of water found in fuel and separating them from the product stream.
The image above illustrates the progression of the product stream through coalescer media. The emulsion is broken apart, filtering the solids, then forcing the minute water particles to coalesce (to consolidate or join up) into larger droplets. Gravity pulls the larger droplets to the bottom of the filter housing allowing it to be drained off during filtration. This is the first of two phases.
The second phase involves separation. A Teflon coated water separator filter, like the one above, is used to repel fine droplets of water that happen to remain from coalescence. This second stage acts as a secondary back-up forcing the water out of the product flow – not allowing it to pass through with the fuel. It works because Teflon is hydrophobic (literally, afraid of water). The water repels off of the coated separator and falls down to the bottom of the filter housing where it can be drained off leaving the fuel clean and dry.
When looking for a filtration system, look for ones that provide the efficiency of coalescing and water separation. Dixon’s new filtration designs include the technology.