Ensuring the integrity of your fuels is of ever-increasing importance, especially when faced with traditional issues of fuel quality, degradation and contamination combined with modern-day challenges such as monitoring biodiesel content (FAME – Fatty Acid Methyl Esters), Sulfur content and so forth.
Monition are able to offer a number of comprehensive fuel testing packages direct from our laboratory in Worksop to fit your requirements, allowing us to investigate a number of common issues that can be extremely harmful to engines and generators:
Water can be present in fuel in three distinct states; dissolved, emulsified and free. Dissolved Water is chemically dissolved into the fuel and distributed on a molecular level. Emulsified Water is where small droplets of water are suspended in the fuel itself, forming an emulsion (very much like salad dressing is an emulsion of oil and vinegar). Free Water is water that has occurred in a separate layer to the fuel, gathering at the bottom of a fuel tank on account of its relative density. Free and emulsified water are the biggest risks, with the potential to lead to engine seizure, cause corrosion and bug formation, promote adverse wear and at the very least, affect fuel stability and performance.
The commonly coined phrase “diesel bug” is a one-size fits all term for a number of types of biological growth that can occur in a fuel system, typically, but not exclusive to the fuel-water interface. These are usually Bacteriological (single cell organisms that will consume certain hydrocarbons in diesel, causing degradation of the fuel over time), Moulds and Yeasts (both types of fungal growth, not typically an issue from a degradation perspective, but more because of filter plugging and build-up potential). Biofilms – a microbial structure lining one’s fuel tank, system or storage container of the above components can also create significant blockage risk, as well as producing an acidic by-product that might exacerbate corrosion.
Asphaltenes are a class of large organic molecules that are soluble in light aromatic solvents such as benzene and toluene but is insoluble in fuels. They are typically found in crude oil, and as a result, are present in the fuels and oils derived from them to a greater or lesser degree.
They are usually hard, brittle particles that are insoluble in fuel, with an appearance that is often mistake with bacteriological growth. Whilst small in size, Asphaltenes are not of major significance. Similar to the occurrence of soot in engine oils, problems can occur once the articles begin to agglomerate, with the potential to cause plugging and blockages within a fuel system.
Biodiesel is particularly susceptible to oxidation when compared with its “pure” counterpart, exposing the user to added risk of fuel degradation, acid formation and breakdown of FAME content to fuel-insoluble organic compounds, all of which can lead to reduced performance across a range of operating temperatures, as well as filter plugging and system corrosion. As biodiesel is here to stay, in ever-increasing proportions of diesel fuel it should be noted, these are factors that it is vital are addressed.
Sludges can often be the result of any number of the individual causes above. This list of other sources of particulates is near-endless, although sources can include alumino-silaceous dust and grit, soot from combustion, corrosion/rust and wear particles, all with the same danger: potential to cause further adverse wear to your engine, injection system or compressor.