For more information on this topic refer to:
- CATERPILLAR (see publication #SEBD 0717-01 Diesel Fuels and Your Engine)
- DETROIT DIESEL (see publications Engine Requirements, Lubricating Oil Fuel, and Filters)
- JOHN DEERE (see publication #ISBNO - 86691-143 X)
Why is there so much bad fuel?
The number one reason is due to the increased popularity of diesel power and the accompanying increased demand for more diesel fuel. There was a time when diesel fuel remained in the refinery storage tanks long enough to naturally separate and settle, allowing the clean fuel to be drawn off. Now with increased demand, diesel fuel never remains stationary long enough for settling and the suspended water and solids are passed on to you, the user.
The change in refinery techniques is another problem. In order to get more products per dollar; diesel fuel is now being refined from more marginal portions of the crude oil barrel. This results in a lower-grade product that is inherently thicker and contains more contamination.
Finally, current fuel distribution methods also have a negative impact on the condition of the fuel at the time of delivery. In many cases, brokers control fuel sales to major distribution terminals and determine delivery dates. There is no telling how long that fuel has been in the distribution network and how many times it has been transferred. Seldom do these distributors filter the fuel as they transfer it.
On-sight storage tanks always have a small amount of the first gallon of fuel ever put in them, unless it is drained 100 percent and cleaned. So adding new, fresh fuel always has a bit of the bad added to it every time fuel is purchased. Diluting the bad with good over time is a loosing battle. The fuel will always be bad fuel until the core problem is addressed.
The order of treatment for fuel related problems should always begin with a determination of whether there is water in the fuel and if the fuel has microbes (fuel bugs) in it. Water Paste and Fuel Test Kits can be used for this stage of maintenance. If microbes are detected, then the use of biocides is needed. Biocides have no effect on and will not eliminate the sludge problem. Biocides kill bacteria, that's all!
The water issue should always be remedied first by the use of fuel water separators on the tank or on the equipment. Next a chemical additive should be added to dissolve diesel sludge, gums and varnishes that clog filters and injectors. For long-term prevention, the use of magnet fuel conditioners is recommended. These devices continually reverse the re-polymerization of the fuel and reduce the need for ongoing additive use.
There is no good time to find out that your engine won't operate or that half its life span is gone prematurely because of contaminated diesel fuel. A sudden need for diesel fuel stored to run back up systems and generators can create another disaster in minutes. Those systems usually run until bad fuel clogs and "kills" the engine. Ground transportation equipment and boats can be stranded until the filters are changed. Or worse, life support and evacuation systems can quit in commercial buildings, financial institutions, hospitals and communication facilities. Since no one can predict an emergency, the only safe method is prevention.
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