Why Do I Need to Test my Diesel Quality?

When storing and using fuel on site, there are many things you need to consider, including location, bunding, inspection and maintenance.  Additionally, you need to think about the quality of your diesel and the potential for it to get contaminated and affect your fleet and this blog will look at the importance of testing diesel quality.

What is contaminated fuel?

Diesel can become contaminated with varieties of diesel bug, water, sludge and sediment.  Fuel can collect gums and sediments sucked through fuel lines and become contaminated by water that enters fuel tanks from condensation when the tank heats during the day, and cools at night.  Water, fuel and UK temperatures in a fuel tank are ideal conditions for diesel bug, a micro-organism that multiplies quickly, creating a film on the fuels surface, leaving behind sludge made up of fungi, yeast, mould and bacteria that settles to the bottom of the tank.  The use of modern biofuels, which can be up to 7% in the UK can increase contamination risk. Biofuel is derived from organic materials such as vegetable oils and animal fats and is therefore more susceptible for bugs and bacteria.  In addition, biofuel is hygroscopic, i.e. it absorbs water from the surrounding area.

What are the impacts of contaminated fuel?

Contaminated fuel can be costly for your fleet and operation.  Sludge and sediment can lead to clogged filters, which increases use, reducing MPG’s and fleet efficiencies.  Excess water can also collect separately from the fuel, causing engines and tanks to rust.  Regularly monitoring of fuel quality and taking the indicated actions will reduce maintenance costs and help reduce damage.

How often should my fuel be tested?

In order to support efficient and reliable operations, you should regularly test fleet diesel quality.  Regular testing will identify diesel bug, water content, sludge and sediment that can be dealt with before it causes damage and reduces efficiencies.  Samples must be taken from the base of the tank, rather than the tank outlet as this is where contamination will occur.  Frequency of sampling will be informed by previous testing, but is usually every 6 or 12 months, depending on how often tests suggest contamination.

What should I do if my fuel is contaminated?

If fuel is contaminated, you should consider remediation.  There are various options for fuel remediation, which can include filtering and polishing fuel and replacing clean fuel in the tank.  This is a cost-effective option that allows you to retain most of the fuel for future use.  In addition, the tank itself may need to be cleaned to remove sludge and sediment.

If you store and use fleet fuel, it is important to check the quality of the fuel to make sure it is free from diesel bug, water and sediment contamination to help increase efficiencies and reduce maintenance costs.  Samples should regularly be taken from the tank base and action taken if contamination is discovered.