Diesel fuel is a complex mixture of hydrocarbon molecules derived from petroleum crude. Over time stored fuel will darken due to oxidation, repolymerization and agglomeration of certain components. The darkening is accompanied by the formation of sediment that plugs filters and causes poor combustion. Gums and sediments in the fuel that develop over time do not burn in the engine very well, this can lead to carbon and soot deposits on injectors and other combustion surfaces which may lead to more serious problems.
Fuel vendors know what time can do to fuel quality and they suggest that if diesel fuel is stored it should be replaced with fresh fuel within a year unless special precautions or cleaning actions are put in place. Regular fuel maintenance programs should be in place along with regular checking of fuel for problems with the best diesel fuel test kits.
Diesel Fuel Problems of Note
Another diesel quality problem is algae which is a bacterial or fungal growth. There are several forms, but they all live in water and feed on fuel. Generally algae are a living slime that will plug / block fuel filters. Water is the key catalyst for this algae issue. It is not possible to stop water from getting into fuel as the tank must always be vented to atmosphere, water naturally condensates on the insides of the tank walls with temperature changes. Good maintenance practices for diesel storage tanks and regular diesel fuel polishing can prevent premature repairs and breakdowns with the removal of these tank contaminants.
The samples of fuel above was taken before and after a marine diesel tank was cleaned and polished. The vessels engine would only run for 8 hours before needing new filters. The tank was cleaned with the FuelTurbo system and a new filter installed. The original blocked fuel filter as shown on the right image was replaced, the new filter as shown on the left was removed after 106 hours of service after the fuel cleaning and was found to be in perfect clean condition indicating all contamination had been removed.
Under normal storage conditions diesel fuel can will stay in a useable condition for:
• 12 months only at an ambient temperature of 20ºC.
• 6-12 months at an ambient temperature higher than 30ºC.
Don’t wait for diesel fuel problems to develop
Most diesel engine problems start out as poor fuel quality but end up as expensive repairs and out of service equipment. The source for 90 % of all engine failures is poor diesel fuel quality. Removing and disposing of contaminated diesel fuel and purchasing new fuel is a very expensive proposition, even when contaminated fuel is removed you still have a contaminated tank and just refilling the tank with new fuel does not solve the problem. Unless the tank insides are thoroughly cleaned the new fuel becomes contaminated by the remaining contents in the tank from the old fuel. With the use of our FuelTurbo diesel polishing equipment you can safely recover, recycle and reuse diesel fuel in a cost effective and environmentally friendly manner.
When failure is not an option on your diesel powered equipment clean fuel is paramount to you. Any application of fuel in storage will need extra special considerations. A diesel engine will not run if it is exposed to old or contaminated fuel. The use by date of fuel is limited and must be considered in any regular diesel maintenance program. Diesel fuel maintenance is often forgotten and can cause significant problems for your equipment reliability. Get your diesel fuel cleaned and polished so you are ready to run and stay running. Don’t wait until it’s too late to clean your diesel fuel.