Fuel is the lifeblood of any business using commercial vehicles and to be without it would cause major operational issues. The majority of problems with standby fuel storage is caused by fuel contamination and degradation. This is an issue that should be on the radar of every commercial vehicle and fleet business.
Fuel contamination is a common issue when storing white and red diesel, biodiesel and even kerosene, and it only takes a small amount to jeopardise your business.
Contamination can either be caused by something foreign coming into the tank that shouldn’t be there, such as microbes (AKA diesel bug), or by the fuel itself degrading. This will cause the fuel to become incombustible which, in turn, increases fuel consumption as the fuel is passed out through increased emissions.
The effects of fuel contamination can quickly multiply and render the fuel useless, impacting efficiency, cost and reliability. However, recognizing and sourcing the problem at an early stage will ensure that you can resolve the issue as quickly and easily as possible.
Making sure you are aware of the symptoms of contaminated fuel and knowing how to look out for the signs is the first step to prevention. WP Group have compiled a list of the top 3 signs that your fuel supply may be contaminated.
- Fuel appearance; is it clear and bright?
Samples taken from the tank bottom should appear clear and bright, so if it is looking cloudy or dark, this indicates contamination. If it is looking cloudy, there could be water in the fuel. Microbes usually occur when water is present in the diesel so keep this in mind this when assessing the condition of your fuel. Water contamination is arguably the most damaging contaminate to find in your fuel tank so this needs to be resolved quickly.
If the fuel is dark in colour, then is likely that asphaltenes are forming. These are hard particles that, if agglomerated, can block engine filters.
Keep an eye on the condition of your fuel by taking samples from the tank bottom every 3-6 months.
- Vehicle and equipment performance is affected
The discovery of fuel contamination is usually from noticed performance changes from the equipment using the supplied fuel. Tell-tale signs are a loss of acceleration and RPM, involuntary or volatile changes in speed, and sputtering.
These signs could mean that the fuel isn’t burning as it should. Any time your engines are performing noticeably different to how they should, make sure you eliminate the possibility of contamination in your fuel storage.
Be on the lookout for black, white or blue smoke as well. If your vehicles are experiencing this and the engine is working properly, the smoke could be an indicator that there is a contaminate in the fuel. The most common offenders that cause this symptom are heavy compound contaminates which also cause sludge. Be sure to also check the filter, if it is slimy or clogged this will restrict fuel flow to the engine.
- Poor fuel tank conditions
Regularly checking the fuel tank is a good habit to get in to in order catch fuel contamination in its early stages. Ensuring that the filters are unclogged and checking for any sludge build-up is critical for preventative management. Sludge at the bottom of the fuel tank can be formed from a number, and combination, of many contaminants; it is also a sign of a poor filtration system.
Any damage and holes on the tank should be dealt with immediately to prevent foreign contamination, and any signs of rust could also indicate contamination of the fuel.
Any of these symptoms could indicate that there are contaminates within your fuel supply that should not be there. Spotting these signs can be easy once you know what you are looking out for, however it becomes trickier when establishing how, when and what has caused these symptoms. Many of the above signs may have more than one root cause, and ensuring your fuel supply is maintained to a high standard will prevent contamination which could extremely disrupt your business.
Discover what you can do as a business to ensure the risk of contamination is significantly reduced by downloading the brochure of our new Commercial Vehicle Solutions offer. Alternatively, our experts can offer a bespoke consultation about the requirements of your commercial business, contact us on 0800 980 6172 or email at .