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Ignore Fuel Quality at Your Peril

24th, September 2013

Poor fuel quality is one of the primary issues preventing generators from starting under power failure conditions.

Mission critical facilities invest significant sums on emergency power systems. Whilst the vast majority of generator installations will benefit from regular servicing and maintenance very often the fuel which is essential to support 24/7 mission critical power system is often overlooked. With diesel fuel quality at an all-time low and with limited prospect of improvement it is essential fuel cleanliness is incorporated into an overall generator servicing package.

Organisations should be aware that a combination of water build up and the “Diesel Bug” can damage generator engines whilst exposing 24/7 mission critical services to a potentially disastrous power outage. 

Diesel will start to deteriorate at the point it leaves the refinery. Whilst for most applications, fuel will be used quickly with standby generators, fuel maybe stored for months and even years depending on usage. In just a few months fuel can become contaminated with solid debris, water and algae. Modern fuels are even more susceptible to ongoing biological contamination.

Water - is a serious threat to machinery because water will act as “liquid sandpaper” damaging injection system parts. In addition water coming into contact with the combustion chamber turns to steam resulting in wear and potential catastrophic seizure.

“Diesel Bug” or microbes that grow in the fuel tank is a mixture of bacteria that thrive in the water of a fuel tank, feeding off the hydrocarbons in the diesel. This will cause performance degradation and produces a bio-mass which will block filters.

Biodiesel - The European Fuel Directive introduced in 2011 requires ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD) to be used in all non-road mobile machinery (NRMM). This directive leads to a reduction of the fuel’s lubricity. Biodiesel is added to improve lubricity however this has a “cleansing effect” on fuel tanks allowing contaminants to mix with the fuel. In addition, biodiesel is prone to react with oxygen forming peroxide, in turn promoting the formation of organic acids, which in turn, cause formations of gums and resins in the fuel, which results in blocked filters.

The Solution

Workspace Technology recommends fuel is kept both clean and dry. Implementing a fuel maintenance or “Fuel Polishing” as part of the generator service schedule is essential.

Fuel System Maintenance services should include:-

  • Inspect storage tank for integrity
  • Inspect fuel delivery system for integrity
  • Check compliance with Workspace Technology's minimum standards
  • Check gauges and measures
  • Fuel polishing to remove moisture and debris
  • Fuel additive to prevent bio-mass build-up
  • Check valve operation
  • Disposal of fuel waste

For further information on Workspace Technology range of Generator and Fuel maintenance programmes call 0121 354 4894.

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