Fuel Management FAQs

Fuel Management FAQs

With the rising cost of diesel fuel P3 Generator Services has more recently been asked about how to best maintain and protect the investment of fuel already in the tank.

This is good news as it means that our message about the importance of fuel management is resonating. However, we are discovering that there is a belief that simply adding a fuel stabilizer is enough. While this is certainly a part of it, it should not replace a more comprehensive fuel management plan.

Understanding the answers to these questions will help explain why:

1) There is lots of talk about diesel fuel today. What makes today’s fuel different?

  • The short answer is that today’s diesel has reduced sulfur content and increased biodiesel. The EPA, in an effort to combat air pollution, has mandated the reduction of sulfur content in diesel fuel. New fuels such as Biodiesel and Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) are now prevalent throughout the country. Both of these fuels have excellent qualities to deliver emission reductions and air quality improvements. However, these fuels are more chemically dynamic and more vulnerable to microbial attack, which accelerates corrosion and adds to particulate contamination.
  • Due to the fact that diesel is less refined than gasoline, it has always been known to last as long as it was needed. But this is no longer the case. Due to the reduction of sulfur and the addition of biodiesel, today’s diesel has changed significantly at the molecular level altering the chemical properties and decreasing diesel storage viability.

2) Why is this important to me?

  • The addition of biodiesel and the reduction of sulfur make it necessary to routinely monitor and chemically enhance this fuel to ensure reliability as well as to protect your storage system and engine from the negative effects of bad fuel.
  • It is common knowledge amongst those in the fuel supply chain that today’s diesel has a shelf life of about 6 to 12 months before it begins to degrade or breakdown. As it ages, it becomes less stable causing the fuel molecules to link together and as this process continues, the molecular chains become longer and longer, forming sediment inside the tank. Eventually the fuel may become useless – unable to burn and too thick to pump.
  • Additionally, diesel generators recirculate hot unused fuel back to the cold storage tank. Each time your generator runs for weekly test cycles, it introduces heated fuel back to the tank. This hot fuel speeds the breakdown of diesel, shortens its life span, and promotes the following:
    • Water attraction – While naturally occurring through condensation, today’s lighter density fuels have a greater tendency to attract moisture. Water causes corrosion and rust which can lead to expensive tank failures. But more importantly, rust particulate can be carried through the engine’s fuel delivery system causing excessive wear and potential failure of expensive fuel pumps and injectors.
    • Bacterial and fungal growth – Sulfur is a natural biocide that in the past kept fuel clean of bacterial growth. Without it, organisms will grow unfettered whenever water is present in the tank, feeding on the fuel itself. Excessive growth will clog fuel filters and fuel pumps.
    • Winter Cold – Accumulated water in outdoor storage tanks can present icing issues within the tank. Ice particles that migrate through fuel lines will clog both lines and filters.
  • Other issues related to Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel include lower lubricity of the fuel itself causing wear and shorter life expectancy of fuel delivery parts.

3) What can be done to protect my fuel investment?

  • With typical fuel tank sizes ranging from 250 to 1000 gallons, it is very possible to have hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in diesel fuel inventory at risk. This is an investment that needs to be cared for. As such, it is highly recommended to test your stored fuel yearly for stability, water content, organic contamination, and inorganic sediment, then treat the fuel with appropriate stabilizers to extend its shelf life. Based upon test sample laboratory findings, biocide treatments may be necessary.

4) So what makes one fuel additive different from another? After all, I’ve heard that fuel additives are nothing more than Snake Oil.

Companies that have a direct interest and background on fuel related issues to a specific industry and have been concentrating on supporting one industry over a long period of time tend to have the upper hand in additive technology. They have one focus – to develop the best possible product to address industry specific needs.

The key is in the laboratory that created the product and not necessarily the brand name on the label. A lab that has invested years of research into industry specific product development will be better armed to providing a more complete treatment solution – one that addresses all aspects of fuel related concerns, such as treating the following; water, anti-gel, molecular stability, lubricity, and anti-fungus, rather than only one or two of these issues.

5) Why did P3 Generator Services choose to use ILFC Products?

There are countless products on the market that all make claims to protecting your fuel investment. Some are certainly better than others. We recommend ILFC Products (International Lubrication and Fuel Consultants).

  • ILFC Ten32 Fuel Inhibitor was developed over 60 years ago at Bell Laboratories to deal primarily with problems related to the protection US Government owned generators during the Cold War. Throughout the years, ILFC, Inc. has developed products to improve the quality of fuels while maintaining equipment performance and reducing emissions.
  • Water in fuel is a problem that cannot be ignored. Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuels have demonstrated that they have a tendency to attract and hold more water than their predecessors. The demulsifying effect of ILFC Ten-32 can help release trapped water to the bottom of the fuel tank, where it can be removed by mechanical means. Other fuel additives contain alcohols or ethers that disperse the water into your fuel system, where it can cause significant damage as it flows through the fuel delivery and combustion system of your generator engine.
  • In the past, sulfur content in fuel provided a level of lubrication for a diesel engine’s fuel delivery system. Today’s Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel fuels lack this protection. ILFC’s Ten32 provides much needed lubrication to keep fuel pumps and injectors operating smoothly.
  • The petroleum chemical engineers at ILFC have been researching these specific fuels for many years specifically as they relate to the long-term storage needs of the stand-by generator industry. This experience provides peace of mind that the additives they have developed will perform as described.

Learn more about the P3 Generator Services Fuel Management Plan.

P3 Generator Services



Reference sources include:
Cummins Power Generation – Power Topic #9009
Cummins Engines – www.cumminsengines.com/diesel-fuel-contaminants
BP Fuelnews – Document: ADF1403.doc
Disaster Recovery Journal, Spring 2008 Issue – “How Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Man
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