By: Barry Aruda, New England Territory Manager, AFS
If you are reading this article, I can say with certainty that life has probably changed for you over the last few months. Since the emergence of the world pandemic, Covid-19, life has been anything but normal for every individual on our planet and, like a line of dominoes meticulously stacked, every single portion of our lives has been affected by the virus. It starts with a cough, leads to sickness, schools, and businesses close, jobs are lost, and the crisis continues to hurt our families and economy in ways none of us would have imagined only five months ago.
Still, even in crisis-mode, our country must continue to work in some capacity. Police, fire departments and healthcare professionals are working overtime and fleets are out on the road working as they always have—running non-stop to keep essential workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, and other businesses up and running.
Do not let your fuel get in the way of your uptime responsibilities. The reality is fuel is very sensitive to moisture and other contaminants that can easily deteriorate over time. Fact: fuel stagnant in a tank overtime may not perform when you need it most. In a recent webinar, our AFS team, working with Patti Earley, Florida Power & Light, when we addressed the elephant in the room within the fuel business, “Fuel Quality” and its potential impact on uptime.
Basically, fuel has a short “shelf life”
Given that fuel can so easily deteriorate when it is not properly maintained, this unfortunately can mean that most stored diesel fuel tanks contain several contaminated products due to the natural age not only of the fuel, but also of the tank. So, what could be lurking in the tank includes microbial growth (bugs), particles that the filter never picks up, and water. Here at Advanced Fuel Solutions, Inc. (AFS), our technologies address water with an aviation fuel deicing compound designed to alleviate water related issues.
“In order to safeguard your business…ensure high-quality fuel and a leak-free operation of your storage system, you must monitor for water in those systems and remove water whenever it is detected.” –Steel Tank Institute
Regular fuel sampling and analysis is Evidence of tank corrosion, an essential component of a sound fuel quality maintenance program, which is why it’s one of the core serviceswe provide for our customers. We typically pull fuel samples using a cylindrical stainless-steel device called a Bacon Bomb (or “Fuel Thief”), which we lower into the tank with a cord to take one sample each from the top, middle, and bottom of the tank. (It is important to note that a fuel sample at the top can look substantially different than the fuel taken from the tank bottom). Often, you can see signs of water or microbial contamination with the naked eye, but not always, which is why an independent laboratory analysis is required. A clean-looking fuel sample does not always tell the full story.
We recently retrieved the fuel sample (pictured below) from a 10,000-gallon off-road diesel fuel tank, which had been in receipt of a delivery shorty before we arrived. You will notice, as our customer did, that the sample itself looks relatively clean.
In the the picture below, the debris covering the surface of the fuel thief is corroded metal, which we know, because it responded to our magnet. Where there is tank corrosion, there is usually microbial contamination, and where there is microbial contamination, there is water. While turbulence in the tank caused by the recent fuel delivery made the contamination more difficult to capture with the fuel thief, the heavier bits of corroded metal quickly settled to the bottom, where they could be pulled up with the sample
This to ensure your fuel remains healthy:
So, what can you do to help ensure your fuel is healthy and ready to function the next time you send a vehicle out on the road?
1. Remain cognizant of the age of the fuel.
2. Record dates last time it was tested?
3. Check storage tank bottoms for water?
4. Drain saddle tanks of any water?
Examination of your current fuel storage practices and stabilization of fuel is crucial, more than ever before. This practice of testing and diagnosing the problem proactively is something you should absolutely consider. You owe it to your customers, and the industries you serve to make sure your fuel is healthy and on-spec. Today, more than ever before, as an “Essential Business”, this pandemic has only magnified your importance in the supply chain. Ensure fuel related delivery delays do not contribute to inventory shortages in the medical, pharmaceutical and other essential service operations.
With the AFS Quality Assurance System, time tested by our clients over the past twenty-five years, we pledge to continue to ensure your fleet is ULSD/biodiesel blend ready by helping to maintain the integrity of your fuel as well as delivering “best practices” in regular testing and facilities maintenance.
The science of fuel quality can be summed-up by our simple three step check-up process: A.C.T.
- Analyze – It all starts with a thorough analysis of your fuel and storage as we check for five critical fuel quality parameters which impact fuel performance.
- Consult – Working in concert with our technical partners, AFS will recommend the best solutions where technology compliments a well thought out housekeeping process.
- Treat – Through the application of field-proven fuel conditioners, we will improve the critical quality parameters of you fuel. Recommendations to simplify your treatment application will also be addressed through our flexible treatment strategies.
How healthy is your fuel? If you are unsure, now is the time to reach out. We, like you, are essential and always here willing to help.