Fuel Testing Basics

microbial detection

Fuel testing is the only way to accurately verify fuel quality. There are many types of field tests and equipment available to identify problems. Field testing with instant or near instant results can provide a quick and responsive method for monitoring fuel quality. There are value tests available to measure water in ppm, acid number, microbial contamination and ethanol presence. There is also portable equipment designed to measure particulate contamination, water content, octane and cetane. The downside to the equipment is the cost.

  • Acid Number, Ethanol Presence and Water detections test kits are available that provide results within ten minutes for under $20.
  • Microbial Test kits take 48-72 hours to culture but cost less than $20. There are instant result test kits but they are much more expensive, priced over $175.
  • Particulate Counters are available to test fuel inline while filtering or portably from sample bottles. Results are instant and ISO certifiable for those critical applications.
  • Relative Humidity Sensors are also an option on the particle counters. They measure water in fuel.
  • Octane and Cetane Test Equipment are available but expensive to own.
  • Visual sampling is very important. Taking good bottom samples on a weekly basis can provide valuable information on what is taking place inside the tank.

Check out Dixon’s Online Store to order your supply of field fuel testing kits. They are simple to use and inexpensive. Consider the problem with bad fuel.  By simply testing your fuel you can avoid major expenses.

Testing Fuel for Acidity

acid number test

Acidity is one of the major indicators of diesel fuel quality. Diesel fuel that has degraded will have a higher acidity level and be out of spec. Understandably, high acidity damages both dispensing equipement and engines. Common damage includes pitted fuel injectors and premature failure of fuel system components.

An easy and inexpensive way to determine the acidity of your fuel is to field test it with one of Dixon’s field test kits. Order a simple Acid Field Test Kit today from Dixon Pumps Cleaning and Filtration online store. The test is easy to use and results are instant.

It Starts with a Sample

65-00100-1Fuel quality management does not just happen. It starts with a sample. Unless you know what is in your tank, it is impossible to manage its quality. The first defense against fuel quality issues is regular sampling. Ideally, take a good bottom sample from the lowest access point in the tank at least once a week – more often if deliveries are made.  If the sample is visually clear and free of water or large contaminants you can breath a little easier.  However, clear fuel does not necessarily mean clean fuel.  Because contaminates can be microscopic and still cause damage, they may not be easily seen with the eye.

field testsTesting can also be periodically done to rule out any additional issues that might not be visible to the eye during sampling. There are economical field tests available that can detect water, acid level, ethanol and bacteria. Lab testing is also an option. While more expensive, it will provide a more detailed analysis of the fuel.  For critical applications, this if very important.

Check out Dixon Pumps Online Store for easy ordering of fuel samplers, fuel test kits and other fuel quality management accessories. If you have a question, email us at dixon@dixonpumps.com or give us a call at 1-800-874-8976.

Field Testing Fuel

field tests

Regular testing is an important part of managing today’s fuels. Fuels degrade more rapidly than they did a decade ago. Poor fuel quality costs everyone. The only sure way to know is to test the fuel. Dixon has tests that can be completed in the field for instant or near instant results available for purchase.

Water test

Water Detection Field Fuel Test Kit

The water kit detects suspended and separated free water in diesel, biodiesel and fuel blends. It takes approximately 10 minutes to quantify the amount of water in your fuel by a range of parts per million.

  • 0-500 ppm:         Particles are white
  • 500-1000 ppm: Light pink
  • 1000 + ppm:       Dark pink (purple in dyed fuel)

microbial detection2

Microbial Detection Field Fuel Test Kit

The microbial kit detects microbial growth in diesel, biodiesel and fuel blends. It is an easy to use test and provides results in 48-72 hours.

  • PASS:    No change in your sample
  • FAIL:      Color change or visible mold/microbial growth

acid number test

Acid Number Field Fuel Test Kit

The acid number kit detects the presence of acid in all fuels. It determines the acid level, not the pH as pH is related to water and not fuel. If the test kit detects an acid level greater than 1, then this is an indication of a problem and further testing is advised.

ethanol test

Ethanol Detection Field Fuel Test Kit

The ethanol kit detects the presence of ethanol in all fuels. It takes less than 10 minutes for results. Kit includes fuel testing tube with cap, pipette and vial of blue testing fluid.

Call Dixon Pumps for Field Kits.

Fuel Testing

microbial detection

How important is it to test your fuel? If you have emergency backup power generators, then regular testing is imperative. Where to start? Proper sampling is the first place to start. Taking a good bottom sample will determine visual cleanliness but not necessarily ideal cleanliness. At best, the human eye can see objects as small as 40 microns. A human hair measures around 80 microns across and a microbe can be as small as 2 microns. The injector design of diesel engines requires clearances as close as 2 microns, so microbial contamination too small to see with the naked eye may be causing untold damage to the engine.

What determines clean fuel? The ISO Cleanliness Code standard is 18/16/13. What does this mean? It represents the allowable range of particles found at the particle sizes 4, 6 and 14 microns. Refer to the chart and you will see that at 4 microns and larger, there can be 1,300-2,500 particles per milliliter of diesel. At 6 microns or large only 320-640 particles and at 14 microns 40-80 particles. Remember these are all microscopic in size. If you have enough the fuel will likely be cloudy and discolored. Entrained water can also count as a particle.iso

The key to having clean fuel is the implementation of a fuel quality management program that samples, tests and cleans on a regular basis. Clean fuel does not just happen and it is likely that the new fuel just delivered will not meet the ISO Cleanliness standard of 18/16/13.

Dixon Pumps can help you with your cleaning and filtration concerns. Are you worried about the quality of your fuel? Call a Dixon representative for help. We offer fuel samplers, cleaning equipment and supplies as well as the expertise to help you.