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Diesel Filtration: New Recommendations

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

Fuel filtration is the practice of using filters to remove particulates from fuel (or water if you’re using a coalescing filter).  Proper filtration and the effective removal of contaminants are vital to the health of every engine that runs on fuel.

Diesel Filtration - Recommended By The EPA

bad_diesel_fuel.jpgAnd it’s not just vital for the health of engines.  Diesel fuel filtration can also be a vital step in preserving the health of diesel fuel in storage tanks, according to an earlier recommendation by the EPA from its July 2016 field study on diesel fuel storage tank corrosion.  Six key recommendations came out of the study. Some were common-sense (monitor your tanks for water regularly, treat your stored fuel with biocide and liquid corrosion inhibitor). But the EPA made another specific recommendation that surprised some people. They recommended that all incoming fuel be filtered for water and sediment content BEFORE it’s added to a storage tank.  The secondary recommendation, for those who insist they really aren’t in a position to do that, is to add the fuel to the tank, circulate it, and then filter all the fuel in that tank for water and sediment.

Why did the EPA make such a recommendation? There are at least a couple reasons that come to mind. Part of it comes from one of the findings of their study – that excessive content of water and sediment in fuel samples had the highest correlation with the presence of severe corrosion in the corresponding storage tank. 

But beyond that, filtering the fuel (either before or after addition) removes the precursors to fuel instability, which in turn extends the storage life of the fuel. The longer you can keep those kinds of things out of your diesel fuel, all else being equal, the longer your fuel will last in storage.

Sludge Buildup Is A Bigger Problem That You Think

Filtering fuel also keeps excessive amount of sludge and particulates from building up in your storage tank over time.  You might not think this is an issue, but you may want to reconsider. 

Say you’re a fleet operator with a diesel storage tank that goes through one fuel drop of 8,000 gallons per week. That fuel appears to be pretty clean, with a sediment content of only 10 mg/L. Doesn’t sound like very much. Over a year’s time, your storage tank would accumulate 11 pounds of sludge in its bottom, at the very least.

Expand that to a large situation, like a high volume fuel distribution terminal that could easily process 2 million gallons of fuel per tank. Assuming that fuel is in the same state, fast-forward one year and that storage tank would see more than five tons of sludge built up from just the normal sediment dropout of that fuel.

So it’s easy to see that diesel fuel filtration can be a more integral part of an overall stored fuel health  solution than one might think.

You may be interested in these related posts on diesel storage:

Corrosion Problems in Fuel Storage Tanks Webinar

This post was published on March 3, 2017 and was updated on March 31, 2017.

Topics: Fuel Storage, Fuel and Tank Services