Preventative Maintenance is the Best Way to Keep Fuel Systems Clean

Diesel and other light fuel oils degrade in quality over time, even during short-term storage.

Pennwell web 300 210

Pennwell web 300 210

Diesel and other light fuel oils degrade in quality over time, even during short-term storage. This can lead to diminished performance, decreased service life and potential failure of the engine or generator using the fuel. It's especially likely with equipment that sits idle for extended periods.

In addition, the daily accumulation of water in the idle fuel system can lead to growth of microbial contaminants, such as bacteria. The accumulated water and bacteria can quickly overwhelm the fuel system's filter/water separator, leading to costly damage, a cumbersome clean-up process and downtime.

New low-power diesel fuel polishing systems continuously clean stored fuel during engine downtime, preventing water and organic contaminant accumulation. This makes the process of maintaining a clean fuel supply easier and less time consuming.

How Fuel Degrades

Water is the main cause of fuel degradation. Regardless of the application, daily water infiltration is virtually impossible to prevent. Through regular temperature swings, water simply condenses and builds up in the fuel system. If dew, fog or rain is on the outside of the fuel tank, then it's almost certainly accumulating inside also.

Water collected inside the tank fosters bacteria growth by providing a microbial breeding ground. These bacteria feed on the stored diesel fuel, which reduces fuel energy content. Once the engine or generator is engaged, the amassed bacteria clogs filters. The presence of water in the tank also promotes oxidation and damages fuel delivery system components, such as pumps, valves and fuel hoses.

Current Solutions

Fixed-base Filtration Systems
Offering the use of a large system that pumps the fuel supply out of the tank, fixed-base filtration systems filter the contents and often include thorough tank scrubbing to remove sediment build-up. While these systems do a good job of removing contamination, they are expensive to utilize on a regular basis. Normally priced on a per-gallon basis that rivals the per-gallon cost of the fuel itself, this approach is the most effective means to combat a severe contamination problem. However, it is not intended for addressing the daily build-up of water in the fuel system.

Specialty manufacturers offer a range of chemical treatment solutions, such as enzyme-based additives, for diesel fuels to solve specific fuel problems. These products can vary widely in their effectiveness. Even if the correct product is used to kill bacteria in the fuel system, the root cause of the issue, water collected in the tank, remains a problem.

Pre-filtration Systems
Pre-filtration, either with or without water separators, has also been a commonly offered solution. This method reduces the fuel system load and can increase the service life on the OEM filtration system. The more contamination there is in a system, the more frequently filter changes are required.

High-flow-rate Polishing Systems
High-flow-rate polishing systems typically use a high power gear pump, pre-filters and associated liquid and electrical switching. These units are normally specified in gallons per hour of filtering capacity and are usually sized to match fuel consumption demands. Generally these systems are used for a period of several hours to treat bulk contamination before the fuel can be fed to the engine. While these systems are effective in the treatment of existing minor contamination, they require substantial power from a generator or other source.

Preventative Fuel System Maintenance
The best solution to maintain a healthy fuel delivery system is to address the root of the problem and continuously remove water and other contaminants before damage results. Parker Energy Systems' FPM-050 Fuel Polishing Module promotes a bacteria-free environment while consuming minimal power and working with an installed pre-filter.

Circulating up to 350 gallons of fuel a week, the FPM-050 cleans and polishes fuel while the engine is idle. Operating on a daily basis, it maximizes fuel system reliability and minimizes maintenance expenses.

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