When it comes to stored fuel management, guesswork can be the death of you. Certain fuel signs might make you suspect that something is wrong. Filter plugging intervals. Changes in physical appearance. Maybe even a change in how your equipment is operating.
Each of those can be a sign that something is amiss with your fuel. But how do you know if the fuel is actually bad? And how can you proactively know if something is getting ready to go wrong with your stored fuel?
ASTM D-975 is the one to know
ASTM D-975 is the legal reference for all of the properties required of diesel fuel. Diesel fuel, whether #1, #2, #4 or #6, must meet all of the minimum specifications found in ASTM D-975 in order to legally be defined as diesel fuel oil.
Only ASTM testing will tell you if the fuel meets all of these standards or not.
ASTM stands for the American Society for Testing and Materials. It’s the organization that develops standards for measuring things across all walks of life. They do this through a collaborative process with government and leading industry professionals. ASTM develops the definitions of the standards, someone else handles the enforcement, if necessary.
For example, in the case of diesel fuel properties, ASTM tells everyone how much sulfur content diesel fuel can have. ASTM defines the limit; The Department of Transportation and the EPA handles enforcement and penalties for violating those standards in an inappropriate way.
ASTM Fuel Testing is essential
ASTM fuel testing will tell you if your stored fuel is on its way to the “badlands” or if it’s still in good condition. Knowing how your fuel looks in these tests can help you head off fuel problems before they start.
You know, there are lots of people out there who claim to be able to do fuel polishing. Lots of companies that would love to partner with you to clean your fuel tanks. A GOOD partner will be able to furnish or arrange for ASTM testing of your stored fuel to prove that you have a problem or prove that whatever service they did changed the fuel specifications in a positive way.
These kind of tests aren’t always cheap, so a reputable partner likely won’t do these tests completely for free. But they should be able to get you deep discounts off the a la carte cost of the tests you’ll need. Instead of paying $2,000 for a slate of fuel tests, maybe you pay $500-600. It pays to partner with the right people.
Just as importantly, they should be able to suggest which tests you should do and which you don’t need to spend money on. ASTM testing at an accredited laboratory can be expensive, so it helps if your partner is looking out for you by giving you guidance on where you do and do not need to be putting your financial resources.
ASTM testing can show you important areas your stored fuel may be lacking in – cetane deficiency (you might notice symptoms like rough engine running, but only ASTM testing will tell you if a drop in cetane value is the underlying cause), excessive water and sediment content, even how bad a microbial count of your stored fuel content is.
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This post was published on April 27, 2016 and was updated on March 1, 2023.