What kind of storage tanks give the best results for fuel storage for farms? Plastic tanks are not suitable for above ground fuel storage and fiberglass tanks can be degraded by the storing of ethanol-blended fuel. Sunlight going through translucent tanks walls promotes microbial growth and other fuel degradation. And what about tank color? Some farmers curiously paint their tanks green or black, which only promotes heat absorption that is bad for stored fuel quality.
Speaking of heat, how does it affect fuel quality in storage? More heat energy leads to more and faster chemical oxidation reactions that are the cause of fuel breakdown. Most chemical reactions need energy to start them going. Hotter tanks provide more of that energy. Fuel deterioration can be minimized when fuel is stored at a cool, constant temperature. The more extreme the temperature swings and higher the temperature, the faster fuel will deteriorate.
Evaporative losses vary with the type of storage, type of fuel and steps taken to prevent evaporation. By painting the fuel storage tank with a reflective paint such as silver or white, evaporation losses can be reduced by up to 40% over a dark color storage tank.
It is common that some equipment used on farms is seasonal and therefore it is important to properly treat the fuel that is left in equipment for long periods of time. Fuel life-extending stabilizers such as Bell Performance Mix-I-Go for gasoline and Dee-Zol Life for diesel fuel are extremely effective for this purpose. Fuel stabilizers slow down the process of fuel degradation, extending the useful life of the fuel, through the prevention of oxidation chain reactions. Simply put, if you keep the starting reaction from happening, the rest of the reactions in the chain (that are dependent upon the first one) won’t happen, and stored fuel maintains its quality.
Equipment that is idle for long periods of time should be stored with the fuel tanks either empty or completely full. Keeping a fuel tank full limits the amount of air in contact with the fuel which reduces the amount of water absorbed into the fuel.
The length of time fuel can be stored depends upon the condition under which it is stored. Generally, gasoline is recommended to be used within a month of purchase. Under ideal conditions where fuel is kept cool in underground tanks, gasoline would be expected to remain good quality for at least six months.
Diesel fuel, kept clean, cool and dry, can be expected to last longer, 6-12 months. Periodic filtrations and the addition of fuel stabilizers like Bell Performance Dee-Zol or Dee-Zol Life can extend the life of the fuel. It is also recommended that periodic fuel tank treatments with a biocide like Bell Performance Bellicide be performed to prevent microbial growth. In this case, the preventive cost of treating fuel is small compared to the expense of cleaning fuel tanks and repairing the damage to equipment in which infected fuel is used or stored.
In these times of ever rising fuel costs, it is more important than ever to follow the proper fuel storage recommendations and to use the appropriate fuel treatment products to extend fuel life. This is important because in many cases the increased production costs for crops cannot be recovered in the final sale price. It makes good financial sense to maintain stored fuel properly to minimize losses and maximize profits.
Don't Miss the First Post: Fuel Storage on the Farm: A Primer
This post was published on July 7, 2011 and was updated on June 7, 2016.