Storage of fuel allows several elements to cause fuel contamination. Contaminated fuel has become bigger problem since the introduction of biodiesel.
Water – This easily enters the fuel tank via condensation, through vents and loose fittings. Even freshly refined fuel contains some water so no matter how well maintained a storage system is, a water bottom is invariably present. Diesel now contains 5% biofuel and this % is soon to increase. Biofuel increases the ability of normal diesel to absorb water.
Distillation Residues -There are refining standards that govern the quality of petroleum diesel but fuel is not always supplied direct to you from the refinery.
Inorganic Matter – e.g. rust and paint flakes, sand, dust or ethanol.
Organic Matter – i.e. microbes. Microbes live in water and feed on the fuel in fuel storage tanks. They multiply and form colonies on the fuel/water interface, i.e.where the water at the bottom of your tank meets the fuel above it. They produce highly corrosive organic acids, slime and sludge.
Fuel contamination causes various problems
• Corrosion of your fuel tank.
• Failure of fuel pumps.
• Clogging of filters.
• Sludge formation.
• Fuel additive degredation and loss of effect.
• Foul odour.
All in the above list are caused by microbes and their by-products
Microbes need only a drop of water to start a colony. It is the presence of water along with the darkness and warmth of a fuel tank that provides microbes with the conditions they need to live, grow and multiply. It is a myth that it is possible to remove microbes completely from fuel unless it is stored in a vacuum.
The effects of fuel contaminated by micro-organisms on Vehicle Performance
The effect of microbe contaminated fuel on fuel injection equipment is to impair performance and to increase wear and tear. It causes poor combustion and loss of engine power. It also blocks fuel filters, reduces the life of components and increases servicing costs.
The higher water content of biodiesel immediately provides microbes with a very attractive environment. For biodiesel , the amount of exposure to condensation and water leaks, and the time in undisturbed storage before microbes grow and multiply is much shorter than that of diesel. Biofuels deteriorate faster than conventional diesel and today’s diesel fuel, as already stated, now contains biofuel.
Many modern engine running problems and fuel stock wastage is caused by microbial contamination brought about by the presence of water in biofuels.
Vectec can carry out fuel testing where a client reports suspected fuel contamination issues. Engineers attend site to test the fuel tank for water and take fuel samples, these samples are then sent to a lab for analysis and a full report is issued within 3-4 working days.
If contaminated fuel is detected, Vectec can arrange for the client’s fuel to be emptied and polished. Fuel polishing is a technical cleaning process to remove any microbial particulates and water from a fuel stock. Vectec recommend, and can also arrange for, the fuel tank to be internally cleaned before the fuel is transferred back into the storage tank.