As a service to our customers, dealers and friends, Bell Performance hosts quarterly webinars on fuel topics of interest to their friends and their customers. This is Part 5 of a transcript of one of these recent webinars held on Fuel Changes & The Impact They Have On Your And Your Business. If you would like to watch the archived presentation, please click here. If you would like to read part 4, please click here.
Storage tank corrosion caused by water absorption and by microbial, acidic byproducts of microbes in the fuel. The recommended solutions for this are to try and keep microbes and water out of that tank. That means that you have to check the tank on at least a monthly basis. You want to consider using biocides in order to kill any microbes that may get in there and there's also anti corrosion tank treatments that you can use to protect the tank surfaces.
Sludge Buildup Solutions
Sludge buildup in storage tanks, again, related to the whole issue of fuel instability. The way to solve sludge buildup is you use a stabilizer to keep that sludge from forming and you use antimicrobial biocides to keep microbes from destroying that fuel quality and accelerating the formation of the sludge in those tanks.
I think the last big one, it was the last one that we talked about earlier, the whole issue of fuel and tank microbes in there. They call it the myriad of problems. Any time you have water in the tank, you get the possibility of them establishing themselves in the tank and anyone who stores fuel, especially if you don't monitor the fuel regularly, you have the very real possibility of being affected by the problems that are associated with them.
The recommended measures for dealing with fuel and tank microbes typically get divided into two main categories. You have what they call housekeeping measures and then measures designed to deal with an existing problem.
Housekeeping measures are things that you do to prevent them from growing in the tank. The biggest on there is just staying on top of the free water buildup as regularly as possible. If you have microbes that do establish themselves in there, then housekeeping measures are not going to do anything for those. The only thing that you can do then is treat the fuel in the tank with the biocide. Biocides are the only thing that will kill microbes. You can get rid of the water, you can even use things that claim to absorb water or control water, but if you have living microbes in that tank, those water controllers will not get rid of those problems. That is one of the biggest misconceptions in the industry, is that all you have to do is control the water and you'll get rid of the microbes. That is absolutely not true. Biocides, if you have an existing microbe problem, you have to use a biocide.
What You Need to Know About Biocides
There are a lot of different biocides out there and the reason we're finishing up with this is because this is something that's very important for people who store and process and use fuel, but it's something that a lot of them don't know a whole lot about.
There's a lot of things. There's different chemistry options. There are, like I said earlier, things that claim to control microbes by controlling water that aren't really biocides. Unless you know specific things, how are you to know which one is the right one to choose.
There are certain hall marks or characteristics that you want to look for if you're looking to choose a good biocide to solve your problem. You should incorporate the following characteristics. Broad, what do we call broad spectrum? That basically means that it has the ability to kill as many of the main kinds of microbes, that's bacteria and fungus and mold that are typically found in a tank. It should kill the whole spectrum of them.
Fast acting, typically if your biocide is properly applied, and works, it kills everything within an hour to two hours. That's generally what you're looking for. There are ones that are faster than that. If it's more than 2 hours, you may want to consider looking at something else.
Long lasting kill, that is the big one. You want the biocide to keep working and be effective for as long a period of time as possible. One thing to remember with this when talking about what they call kill length, biocides are not a one treatment and last forever type of thing. The most that you will generally expect reasonably to get out of a biocide treatment is about 4-5 weeks. A lot of them are shorter than that. Some of them only last one week, maybe two. If you can have one that lasts 4 or 5, maybe 6 weeks, you're pretty much getting the best ones in the industry.
It's also something where if you want to keep microbial problems out of the tank, you need to keep checking and you need to plan to reapply maintenance doses to biocides, ideally once a quarter. Twice a year would be good, quarterly would be better.
This is another important one, what they call dual phase effectiveness. You're going to have water and you're going to have fuel. They do recommend if you've got an infected tank that you remove water as much of that as possible.
If there's any water that's left, you want that biocide to work both in the fuel and then you're going to want it to migrate down and you're going to want it to what they call partition into the water, or move into the water. When it does this, then it will move across that interface, which if you remember, that's where we said a lot of the microbes do their best activity. That biocide moves across the interface and it does the best job of killing.
The one thing we haven't mentioned many specific products here, but the big one with respect to dual phase effectiveness and not being affected is Bio-bore. It's the most well-known one in the industry because it's been around the longest time, but it actually, the porous effectiveness for biocide, if it comes in contact with water, it actually crystallizes and stops working.
Last one, registration with the ETA. This is a big one and a key way to know if you've got a good biocide or not. An actual legitimate biocide, not some potion some joker whipped up in his garage and then is trying to sell on the street, but an actual good biocide with an effective chemistry, those are required to be registered with the EPA and are required to have their registration numbers printed on the labels.
If you want to know if your biocide, or if you've got something that's claiming to be a biocide, if you want to know if it's legit, look for the registration numbers. We say numbers because there are two of them. If it has them and then they're easy to find, you're good to go. If it doesn't, then maybe you need to reconsider the one that you're using.
Last thing, sometimes tanks will get-. Remember we said that microbes produce biomass. Sometimes what happens is that biomass which is a sticky, kind of nasty matrix of basically biological material. That stuff will cling and settle on surfaces and microbes will actually hide behind that. You put a biocide into the tank, those microbes are shielded from the biocide and when the biocide's been used up, they come back out to play and they reinfect the tank.
If you know that you've got biomass in that tank, then there are dispersants that you may want to pair with that biocide that will bust up that, essentially poke holes in that shield and make the biocide that you're using even more effective.
Proper Biocide Application
Last thing that we're going to mention, proper application for biocides is absolutely key.
You want to remove as much of the water as possible to start with. You add the biocide and then you need to circulate the fuel for a given amount of time to allow time for that biocide in the fuel to contact the microbes and kill them. Then, when you're done, you need to wait about 8 hours to allow for the dead microbial bodies to essentially settle down to the bottom of the tank. Biocides kill them, but they don't make them disappear. Now they're all dead and if they run through the filter, they're going to plug that filter which isn't a bad thing, that's just the way it is. Wait 8 hours before using the fuel and keep extra filters on hand most definitely for keeping around as those bodies get caught by the filters.
Last Question: Fuel Polishers
I think what we'll do in the last couple minutes here is there is one question that several people asked before the webinar and it had to do with something that I mentioned in passing which is the thing about fuel polishers.
Remember I was talking about sulfur content and there are a lot of fuel polishers out there and there is some confusion among people who have stored fuel because they're confused a little bit about what fuel polishers claim to be able to do versus what makes a good one versus a bad one. Now, we could do a whole other webinar on that topic, but we don't have time to do that, so in a nutshell basically fuel polishers, the best fuel polishers, if you find that you have, if you have a tank that's got a lot of stuff that you need to get out, a fuel polisher is a great resource to call to do that. The best fuel polishers will actually use what they call a hybrid approach and they will have a mechanical process where they use high quality filtrations down to one, typically down to one micron to get the water and the sludge in particular out of the fuel.
They also need to pair that with the best chemicals. Remember we talked about the fuel stabilizers and biocides because polishing and mechanical processes can clean the fuel up, but it will not prevent the problems from coming back. You want your fuel to be clean, but you also want it to stay that way. The best reputable fuel processors will use both approaches. They will incorporate good, effective chemical treatments in with their high quality filtering processes.
If you have not been to the Bell Performance website, we have a blog where we write regularly on things like this and we have other more detailed recommendations available on the Bell Performance blog which is at our website.
We've gone a little bit over time, but that's okay. Like I was saying, we have more information available at the Bell Website, we actually have 2 website URLs, bellperformance.com, and then also one called wefixfuel.com. What we've tried to do is put a lot of useful information on those. There are downloadable resources. There are blog articles written for both businesses and consumers targeting explaining some of the topics that both sides happen to be interested in. If you want information, more information on any of this, that is a great place to go and start.
This post was published on June 1, 2016 and was updated on March 27, 2018.