Diesel Fuel Are You Getting What You Paid For Or Buying A Problem

Diesel Fuel Are You Getting What You Paid For Or Buying A Problem

Diesel engine designs striving to​ increase engine performance have made great advancements in​ engine fuel delivery to​ the combustion chamber. Today’s diesel engine is​ quieter, smoother, and more powerful. But today’s diesel engine owners are overlooking one important factor. The quality of​ today’s diesel fuel has not advanced at​ the same rate as​ the engine improvements.

Diesel fuel begins to​ deteriorate as​ soon as​ it​ is​ produced. Within 30 days of​ refining, all diesel fuel regardless of​ brand, goes through a​ natural process called re-polymerization and oxidation. This process forms varnishes and insoluble gums in​ the fuel by causing the molecules of​ the fuel to​ lengthen and bond together. These components now drop to​ the bottom of​ the fuel tank and form asphaltene also known as​ diesel sludge. The fuel begins to​ turn dark in​ color, smell bad, and in​ most cases causes engines to​ smoke. The engines smoke because some of​ these clusters in​ the early stages are small enough in​ size to​ pass through the engine filtration and into the combustion chamber. as​ these clusters increase in​ size, only part of​ the molecule gets burned. The rest goes out the exhaust as​ unburned fuel and smoke. With increases in​ cluster size they begin to​ reduce the flow of​ fuel by clogging filters. The filters only address the symptom and not the cause.

It is​ estimated that eight out of​ every ten diesel engine failures have been directly related to​ poor quality and contaminated fuel. The build-up of​ contaminates in​ the fuel systems and storage tanks can quickly clog filters, thus resulting in​ engine shut down, fuel pump wear, and diesel engine damage.

Understand that most fuel has some amount of​ water in​ it​ from either condensation or​ vents. This threat requires that we realize the added burden placed upon diesel fuel as​ opposed to​ gasoline. Gasoline acts as​ a​ fuel only. Diesel fuel, on the other hand, also must cool and lubricate injection system parts. These parts are engineered to​ very close tolerances - up to​ 0.0002 of​ an​ inch - and any contamination means rapid part wear. Water displaces the diesel fuel. When the fuel is​ displaced wear occur because lubrication is​ now absent.

Water that enters the combustion chamber results in​ even more serious damage. When it​ comes in​ contact with the heat of​ the combustion chamber (in excess of​ 2000 degrees F), it​ immediately turns to​ steam and often explodes the tip of​ the injector. Water causes corrosion of​ tanks, lines, injectors, and greatly reduces combustibility.

Other areas of​ concern include the producing more exhaust emissions and effecting EPA standards.

Bacteria also present a​ serious problem. Bacteria feed on nitrogen, sulfur, and iron that may be present in​ the fuel or​ tank.

Then there are algae. There are absolutely no algae in​ diesel fuel. You may have fungus and microbial contamination but no algae. This is​ a​ misnomer for diesel sludge. So if​ you have a​ diagnosis of​ ALGAE and add a​ biocide, you have done two things, 1) found a​ mechanic that is​ wrong and 2) done nothing to​ fix the problem.

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.

Thirdly, 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.

The solution: Multifunctional diesel additive packages and hardware.

For your single vehicle or​ fleet the improvement of​ fuel quality by the use of​ additives and current technology is​ always a​ good choice.

Many diesel fuel additive packages address the key issues with respect to​ fuel performance; some improve fuel economy, increase lubricity, improving cold flow, and improve cetane number. And some only address the issue of​ rust and corrosion, but all should be considered.

Most diesel fuel additives contain combustion improvers that release oxygen during the compression stroke. This allows combustion to​ start sooner, providing for a​ more complete fuel burn. a​ more complete burn provides all the power your fuel and engine is​ capable of​ producing. as​ combustion improvers and you get a​ smoother running engine, an​ increase in​ horsepower that improves fuel economy and the reduction in​ black smoke emissions.

Cetane is​ a​ performance rating of​ a​ diesel fuel, a​ higher cetane number or​ cetane rating indicates greater fuel efficiency. The fuel’s cetane influences, duration of​ white smoking after start-up, drivability before warm-up, and intensity of​ diesel knock at​ idle. Increase the cetane number of​ a​ fuel and you have improved performance.

In diesel fuel systems, the fuel provides lubrication for the fuel pump and injectors. a​ fuel with poor lubricity can cause excessive wear and premature failure of​ these components. Improve lubricity and extend engine life.

Diesel fuels have pour points (the lowest temperature at​ which an​ oil or​ other liquid will pour under given conditions) within the range of​ normal winter temperatures. as​ a​ fuel approaches its pour point, paraffin in​ the fuel form wax crystals that prevent it​ from flowing. Flow-improver additives modify the wax crystals, lowering the pour point of​ the fuel and give better cold weather performance.

For on-sight storage tanks other issues must be looked at. On-sight storage tanks always have a​ small amount of​ the first gallon of​ fuel ever put in​ them, unless it​ is​ drained 100% 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​ multifunctional chemical additive should be added to​ improve fuel performance and then if​ needed a​ problem specific additive to​ dissolve diesel sludge and or​ a​ rust inhibitor to​ protect steel tanks. For long-term prevention, the use of​ magnet fuel conditioners is​ recommended. These devices continually reverse the re-polymerization of​ the fuel during circulation and reduce the need for ongoing additive use. All the needed cures are available from Dieselcraft Fluid Engineering at​ www.dieslecraft.com


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 or​ poor quality diesel fuel. Since no one can predict a​ breakdown, the only safe method is​ prevention.
Realize now that you do have a​ problem, and manage it​ now, or​ deal with the unexpected catastrophe and reduced equipment life that comes at​ the absolutely wrong time and is​ not in​ the budget!

Written by John T. Nightingale President of​ Dieselcraft Fluid Engineering, Auburn CA 95604,manufactures of​ diesel fuel purification systems. www.dieslecraft.com

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