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11/26/2012 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Opinion: 7 Ways to Keep Water Out of Diesel Fuel

This Opinion piece appears in the Nov. 26 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

By Joe Fazio

Director of Fleet Sales

Bell Performance

Anyone who works with diesel fuel — stored or otherwise — knows that water comes with the territory. Water can cause problems all year round, but when the weather turns colder, you can get new problems, as well as amplifications of other issues.

Here are seven “must-knows” about diesel plus water, including the tell-tale symptoms of water in diesel fuel. They all can save you headaches:

1. Water in diesel fuel can wreck fuel quality.

When you store diesel fuel, it undergoes chemical reactions that may turn the diesel fuel quality south. There are two main classes of chemical reactions that do this:

n Oxidation reactions happen when the fuel is exposed to oxygen (or oxygen-bearing substances).

n Hydrolysis reactions happen when the fuel is exposed to water.

Both cause chain reactions to happen in the fuel, which becomes darkened and fouled with gums, varnishes and sludge.

2. Water is the most important determiner of whether your tank stays microbe-free.

Bacteria and fungi in fuel are a nasty problem that turns up too many times, and once they’re in the fuel and multiplying, these microbes are difficult to remove.

Water is the essential element microbes need to establish themselves and multiply because they live in the water-diesel interface.

A tank with little water in it is at less risk for developing this problematic situation — and by problematic, I mean that once they’re in the fuel, the microbes are producing acids that wreck fuel quality, corrode tanks and clog filters. And they’re staying put until you spend extra money getting rid of them with a biocide.

3. Biodiesel blends are just as prone to the effects of water as straight diesel, if not more so.

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