Contamination is an important element in keeping your system running smoothly and cost effectively. There are some essential things to watch out for, especially with the newer gensets and that is particle count.
Particle count limits are set by your genset manufacturer due to technology changes that will cause catastrophic failures and potentially void your genset warranty which could reach costs in the millions not to mention loss of revenue.
Other forms of contamination include:
Dust and Dirt
Dust and dirt can get in anytime the fill port is open, such as during fuel transfer or inspections.
Dust and dirt will mix with the fuel and can become ingested into the fuel lines where it can cause issues with:
- Injector damage
- Lead to premature wear
- Ultimately catastrophic engine failure.
The EPA mandated the significant removal of lead from gasoline and sulfur from diesel fuel, which was a natural poison for bacteria and/or microbes.
Manufacturers use powerful chemicals to strip the sulfur from the crude oil which, in turn, removes some of the metals and other useful components. These chemicals also decrease lubricity and other functions of the crude oil.
Removal of the sulfur is one of the primary causes for the significant increase in biological/microbial growth in the fuel storage tanks, it is also the reason for the increase in the microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).
Renewable Fuel Sources
Bio diesel is affecting stability and storability of diesel fuel; it is also affecting wear and maintenance on the engines. Manufacturers of diesel fuel do not need to notify the consumer of the amount of biomass in the fuel if it is less than 5%. The biomass provides a food source and hospitable environment for bacteria, algae, and microbes to thrive. The biomass itself can provide large enough contaminates to affect performance in some engines.
Bacteria, Algae, and Microbes
Bacteria and microbes need two things to survive and thrive; oxygen and food. They grow and live in the boundary area between the free water and the fuel. As the bacteria/microbes feed and grow they give off acid which accelerates further degradation of the fuel. As the bacteria/microbes die the carcasses fall to the bottom of the tank, under the water layer and form sludge. This leads to the fuel having high acidity which enhances corrosion as well as enhances rust, sludge, and other contaminates entering the fuel system causing catastrophic engine failure that is not covered by warranty due to particle counts.
Wax occurs when the fuel temperature drops and the water and other components in the fuel begin to gel up and eventually turns to a semi-solid. Paraffin wax occurs naturally in all crude oils; the amount depends on the specific crude oil from which it was produced and the type of processing. As the fuel is cooled it will start to become cloudy, this is when the wax begins to come out of the solution which is called the cloud point. If the fuel is continued to be cooled it will reach a point where it will no longer flow and the wax will plug the filters and lines, this is referred to as the pour point or gel point. The pour point or gel point occurs about 6 to 10 oF below the cloud point.