Friday, February 27, 2009

Relying on Reliance – Rather than Relying on Ourselves

Relying on Reliance – Rather than Relying on Ourselves

Reliance Industries Ltd. an Indian company is preparing to startup its second huge refinery in Jamnagar in Western India. Reliance is already operating a 660,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery there that together with the new 580,000 bpd unit creates the world’s largest refining complex, a 1.24 million barrel per day monster that is going to have a major effect on refined fuel prices around the world.

The new unit has been built strictly for exporting finished product, primarily gasoline, diesel and Jet A. This unit has been built specifically to produce fuel for the US market. It can meet all of the current and proposed fuel standards that the EPA has created.
Reliance has leased 935,000 barrels of storage space at Hess’s Port Reading terminal and has opened a trading office in Houston.

They will very quickly become a major force in the US marketplace. While in the short term this will likely drive prices at the pump down, the long term effect while be negative.
Over the last few years we have heard time and time again how much the major oil companies have been earning in profits, billions every quarter. However they have invested precious little of this windfall in infrastructure here or abroad.

The US cannot refine all the fuel we use, so others are doing it for us. In every way this is a bad idea and we will suffer for it later. The irresponsibility of not investing in refinery capacity, storage, pipelines, and other required projects is leading us into a mess our children and grandchildren will suffer for.

In eastern Canada, Irving Oil is making a 300,000 bpd expansion to its Saint John’s New Brunswick refinery to provide finished product for the northeastern US markets and now India will add 580,000 bpd to this amount. Again while this may temporarily lower pump prices, it is a strategic mistake to outsource the refining of our fuels.

We are sending more money overseas for no other reason than it is easier than dealing with our problems here.

Another part of the problem is the whole NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) theory. We don’t build refineries because we don’t want to see or smell them.

Well it is time that we grow up, and either put new refineries where they won’t bother anyone or we need to figure out how to clean them up enough that we can live with them.

It is not bad enough that we have to import 2/3’s of our crude oil to support our addiction, and then we import another 10% of our total usage in the form of finished product. Apparently we don’t even want to make the money and have the jobs that we should get from refining it.

The idea that we in the US have so much money that we can afford to simply let someone else deal with our problems while sending them boatloads of money is shortsighted and frankly, stupid!

For more on this and other fuel related subjects go to: and click on Fuel School Articles

Diesel Doctor

Copyright 2009© - William Richards

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Parking Crude Oil

Parking Crude Oil

Here is a bit of information that is hard to digest.

Speculators are leasing Super Tankers called Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC’s) (tankers holding 2 million barrels or 84,000,000 gallons each.) to store crude oil. There are currently between 35 and 45 of these behemoths sitting, many in the Gulf of Mexico and Persian Gulf holding approximately 80,000,000 (80 million) barrels or 3,360,000,000 (3.36 billion) gallons of crude.

This is almost one day’s worldwide consumption. The speculators are and have been paying $60,000.00 to $75,000.00 dollars per day to lease each of these tankers to sit holding this oil.

Factoid: If you lined 35 VLCC tankers end to end, the total length would be about 7 miles.

Why would someone pay this huge amount of money to park oil in the ocean? Well look at it this way, using the $60,000.00 per day figure to store 2,000,000 gallons of crude works out to approximately $.03 (three cents) per barrel per day. If it sits there 100 days that’s only $3.00 per barrel.

Now let’s say that you purchased crude that was $35.00 per barrel and today (02/26/2009) it is $45.00 per barrel. Even if you have stored it for 100 days at $3.00 per barrel or $6,000,000.00 ($60,000 X 100 days) you will still profit $7.00 per barrel or $14,000,000.00.

So this might us to conclude that the current rise in crude oil prices is a manipulation of the market rather than the result of supply and demand.
Right now the market is off by about 1,000,000 barrels per day, there are at least 80,000,000 barrels floating around, every land storage tank in the world is full, all waiting for the price to go up.

OPEC would have us believe they are reducing production to stabilize (this means “drive up”) the price of crude oil. In reality they are reducing production only because they have no where left to put it.

In a true supply and demand world, prices should be going down, not up.

One thought is that our government should be filling the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) as fast as they can get it in the ground. If all of these speculators believe crude will go up in the future then this a worthwhile investment to make.

In spite of the fact the current price is based on market manipulation, I doubt that the government will ever be able to police it. The ability to move staggering amounts of oil around the world with little or no regulation or accountability makes tracing it virtually impossible.The best things we can do are to reduce consumption through more efficient vehicles, equipment and practices and to work on alternative fuels to reach a point where we are able to produce most if not all of our fuel domestically.

Diesel Doctor

Copyright 2009© - William Richards

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Happens when Gasoline is Burned in an Engine

What happens when gasoline or other petroleum fuel is burned in an Engine?

Gasoline (or any petroleum fuel) is mostly carbon that when burned releases energy in the form of heat. This heat energy makes the engine run and allows it to do work.

The bad part of this process is that the carbon when burned is converted into Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Imagine that a gallon of gasoline weighs between 5.93 to 6.42 lbs (depending on type, temperature, blend and other factors) and as it is burned most of it is converted into CO2 weighing between 5 and 6 lbs per gallon.

If this CO2 was a visible solid, you would have to constantly plow the roads as it would build up like snow in a blizzard. But as it is an invisible gas that floats away, nobody pays any attention to it.

Now imagine that worldwide we burn 80,000,000+ barrels (3,486,000,000+ gallons) (Note: The US uses approximately 25,000,000+ barrels or 1,050,000,000+ gallons) of oil per day and 90% - 95% of that becomes CO2.

That’s 20,916,000,000+ lbs. (Twenty Billion, Nine Hundred Sixteen Million Pounds per Day) of CO2 per day, an incredible amount of carbon that we expect the atmosphere to magically absorb. Again if this was a visible solid, we would be buried in a matter of weeks.

Now, I am a proponent of diesel engines, if for no other reason that they are far more efficient than gasoline engines (30+%). If the portion of this fuel that is refined into gasoline was instead refined into diesel you would reduce that consumption by 30+%.

If you capture CO2 from the atmosphere or better yet from the source and use it to grow algae or other plants, you are using photosynthesis to sequester this carbon. If that biomass is then converted into a biofuel and burned in efficient manner you have formed a closed loop where you can nearly stop the increase of carbon released into the environment.

I believe that short of someone developing cold fusion, the development of algae oil biofuels is our best choice for continued use of liquid fuels. This technology could be made commercially viable in just a few years and produce a high quality oil that could be converted into diesel and other fuels for about $20.00 per barrel. Even if I am wrong by 100%, the cost would still be where the cost of crude is today (02/25/2009).

These are things we need to be thinking about. What’s your opinion?

Diesel Doctor

Copyright 2009©- William Richards

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Richards Cycle

The Richards Cycle™

The Richards Cycle™ is a renewable energy concept that combines existing and developing technologies to produce a high quality biodiesel fuel and electricity through a carbon neutral process. Additionally this process can absorb huge amounts of CO2 from other fossil fuel burning processes and plants.

In the Richards Cycle™ land not suitable for farming such a desert and high desert areas can be used for producing oil from Algae. Algae grown in high density greenhouses can produce as much as 100,000 gallons per acre per year. In this process tons of CO2 together with sunlight are converted through photosynthesis into Algae Oil.

You could theoretically place a coal burning power plant next to the greenhouses and pipe the CO2 emissions from the plant right into them where it would be absorbed immediately.
You can then transesterify and or refine the Algae Oil into high quality diesel or heating fuels. You can then use this fuel to generate power or pipe to markets all over the US as motor or heating fuel.

This fuel when burned in a state of the art power plant would be carbon neutral and would produce low cost power. Biodiesel derived from the Algae Oil can be made to burn cleaner than petroleum fuel and would be considered carbon neutral.

This method could produce a significant portion of the nation’s motor fuel, heating oil, industrial fuel oil, and can provide a way to produce an important amount of electrical energy through coal or oil fired power plants without a negative impact on CO2 emissions.

Because this method can be used in most climates, over most of the earth it provides a way to obtain reasonably priced biofuels for motor fuel, heating fuel, industrial fuel oil, and marine fuel oil without the need petroleum fuels.

For areas of the world that currently derive large percentages of their electrical energy from oil fired power plants and diesel powered generators, this provides a way for them to break their dependence on imported or low grade domestic oil.

This is the first viable sustainable renewable energy project that does not use up materials and land diverted from producing foodstuffs.

We encourage your comments, thoughts, and ideas.

Doctor Diesel

Copyright 2009© William R. Richards

Monday, February 23, 2009

Asphaltene's and Plugged Fuel Filters

Asphaltenes and Plugged Fuel Filters

Asphaltenes in diesel fuels are becoming a much larger problem since the introduction of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD - S-15) fuels.

There are actually several problems that have come together to cause the filter plugging black slime we so often see today.

Asphaltenes are highly polarized long chain components in crude and the heavier refined oils. Under certain circumstances these compounds associate themselves to form complex colloidal structures.

In Low Sulfur Diesel (LSD – S-500), High Sulfur Diesel (HSD – S-5000) and heating and bunker fuels the higher aromatic content of the fuel tends to discourage the formation of the complex colloidal structures limiting the problem.

However the EPA mandated reduction in aromatic content in ULSD has allowed this problem to happen sooner, more often, and in cooler temperatures than had been seen previously.

Asphaltenes agglomerate into an oily sludge. This problem is made worse when water is added to mix.

Petroleum and bio-derived fuels all hold water suspended in them, ULSD unfortunately holds approximately twice as much as the LSD and HSD fuels we had seen prior to June of 2006. Biodiesel (B100) can hold ten (10) times as much water as LSD and HSD, so even small amounts of biodiesel blended with diesel fuels dramatically increases the amount of dissolved water present.

Blending of fuels refined from different crude stocks further exacerbates this problem. Also, warmer temperatures in storage or due to the recirculation of fuel by the engine fuel system speeds the process and thickens the sludge.

Fuel that looks perfect going into a clean tank can develop tiny asphaltene droplets in a matter of hours when recirculation temperatures exceed 140°F (note: some newer engine fuel temperature as it exits the head exceeds 210°F). These pin-prick sized droplets can plug a 10 micron fuel filter in 3ooo to 4000 miles or less 50 hours of operation.

Many people mistakenly see this as a biological (bacteria and fungi) problem, however in the majority of cases the accelerated biological growth is the result of near perfect growing conditions that allows this rapid growth after the filter plugging asphaltene material has blocked the filter(s).

Keeping the water out helps, but the real solution is a thermal stability additive, a oxidative stability additive, together with a water dispersant.

Please comment with your experiences, suggestions, and or questions.
Diesel Doctor

Copyright 2009©

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coolant Problems in 2007 and Newer Diesel Engines

Coolant Problems in 2007 and Newer Diesel Engines

The 2007 and newer medium and heavy duty engines with the new emissions devices are creating new and potentially serious problems for cooling systems in general and coolants in particular.

With cooling loads increased by as much as 30% over the previous engines we are seeing issues that must be understood and addressed by users.

As trucks have become more aerodynamic the underhood area has been reduced and airflows restricted. At the same time we have larger displacement engines often with higher horsepower density, plus EGR systems recirculating greater volumes of very hot air together with other heat producing, exhaust restricting Emissions devices.

We have seen trucks with fiberglass hoods that have warped or melted from this tremendous heat load.

All of this places more heat into the coolant, and not only more heat, but higher average temperatures.

Many of today’s coolants are excellent products, however they need more monitoring and more maintenance than ever before.

In the past many fleet experts and OEM’s would recommend an annual check of the coolant. Today these high loads can use up the additive package found in coolants in weeks rather than months. We have seen instances where coolant is properly checked and found to be in good condition, yet in less than a month it can be worthless.

We have seen coolant actually turn black, not from contamination, but simply from continuous high heat loads. Silicate drop out and gelling is more prevalent than ever before.

When this coolant begins to deteriorate the cooling system can be damaged very quickly. We are seeing radiators and heater cores that the solder has been eaten away by the coolant. We are seeing far more liner and even block cavitation problems than ever before.

As a result we have some suggestion and recommendations to try and protect your engines and cooling systems.

Check coolant with fresh Test Strips or Refractometer at every oil change or quarterly, whichever comes first. (Note: Old test strips can give inaccurate readings)

Use only fully formulated coolants from reputable sources for top-offs, and replacement. There is now a huge problem where some suppliers are purchasing used ethylene glycol from manufacturers that had used it in the manufacture of made-made fabrics. They then try to filter out the contaminants and then they use substandard additive packages to make what they claim is new antifreeze from virgin product. This is usually a poor to very poor quality product. It will look OK and a level 1 or 2 test might not show a problem. However a level 3 or 4 test done by a reputable lab will show real and potentially damaging problems.

Never top-off with just water. Coolant works best at a 50%-50% to 50%-70% mix. If it gets out of spec, it will not work properly, and can actually cause expensive damage.

In our opinion all diesel engines in medium and heavy duty applications should have coolant filters.

If you decide that have buy concentrate and mix it yourself, get a mixing system and install either a de-ionizing system for the water or use distilled water. Contaminants in some tap water can render the coolant useless. (See item 2)

You should use only the coolant recommended by the OEM. Do not mix colors especially OA (orange) and OAC (red) with anything.

If you have a failure where oil gets in the cooling system or where you have silicate drop-out or silicate gelling, you need to flush the system with an acid type cleaner and neutralizing agent. If you don’t spend the time to do this procedure, you will have continuing cooling system problems.

Use SCA additive as required to bring the coolant back to the OEM specification.

If you have a problem where you need to make the same repair over and over, get some help. Many of the old rules don’t apply anymore.

The 2010 engines are likely to be even hotter, get ready.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fuel Storage Tank Maintenance - Keep It Clean

Keep It Clean - Fuel Storage Tank Maintenance

Most owners and operators of fuel storage tanks do not understand that maintenance is required to safely and successfully operate fuel storage tanks.

We constantly hear that customers have tanks that have never been cleaned and worse yet, that they believe that they never need to check to see if they have any problems.

This is made even worse by the information that some fuel suppliers tell their customers; for example that it OK to have some water at the bottom of the tank.

Well here is some real world information for everyone on this subject.

Fuel Storage Tanks all require regular maintenance. They are designed with the pickup tube 3" to 6" from the tank bottom so that small amounts of water, sediment and other contaminants have a space they can settle out so that they will not be drawn into the vehicle or equipment tanks as fuel is pumped out. This water and sediment material will accumulate over time and will cause problems if not removed periodically.

Some will tell you that 1/2" or 1" or even 2" of water is alright, and they are flat out wrong. Every time fuel is transferred into that tank it stirs up all that material and it may take as long as a day for it to settle out again. In the meantime every tank you dispense fuel into gets some of this material.

If you have a steel tank that water is corroding your tank from the inside out and putting rust particles into your fuel. We often find above ground tanks only a few years old that have rusted from the inside to the point of leaking from water and sludge in the tank.

Many customers have electronic monitoring systems that provide constant readings showing fuel level, water level, and leak detection. Some of these customers will see 1/2" or a few gallons of water on these system and ignore it because they have been told it is not important.

One problem we see time and again is that the sensors on these monitoring systems fail and they don't tell you when they fail, they just go on showing the last reading forever. This goes on until they start pumping water into their equipment at which point someone checks the tank with a stick and water finding paste only find that they actually have several inches of water.

We have told all of our customers for many years that even though you have spent several thousand dollars for a state of the art monitoring system, you still need to have some one check every tank at least once a month with a stick and water finding paste.

And this rule should be written next to the monitor and maybe next to where you store the measuring stick: "The Only Acceptable Amount of Water in Any Fuel Storage Tank is ZERO (0)".

For those of your with in-ground steel tanks, these tanks have Sacrificial Anodes attached to them. These Anodes take the weak electrical current generated by the tank and pass it into the ground through them. This prevents the tank metal from corroding, however the Anode "Sacrifices" itself in this process. The Anode is used up over a period of time. When the Anode is "used up" the tank begins to corrode often very quickly. Tank owners should periodically check these Anodes and Replace them as necessary. In many states this is part of the required maintenance and testing procedures, however you should know this and check to be certain it has been properly done.

Caps, Sumps, and Vents should all be checked for integrity and to see that they are doing their intended job.

Fuel Storage is a vital link in getting clean fresh fuel safely and efficiently into vehicles and equipment. You have a big investment in the tank, its installation, and in the fuel in it. It only makes sense to properly maintain and protect this investment.

Today we have new challenges with Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), Biodiesel, Gasohol, Conventional Gasoline, and Reformulated Gasoline containing any amount of Ethanol. These fuel products hold much higher levels of water and are much more corrosive than fuels we have traditionally dealt with. They require much higher levels of monitoring and maintenance to have a safe and trouble free delivery system.

We are happy to offer analysis and suggestions on how to operate and maintain your systems.

Please post your comments or questions here.

Diesel Doctor

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Biodiesel from Algae - The future of Biofuels

Biodiesel from Algae - The future of Biofuels

Biodiesel From Algae is likely a long term solution to the problems related to declining crude oil production and ever increasing prices.

Biofuels derived from Algae produce an Algae Oil are considered high quality and can be converted to an excellent biofuel. While all the technology is not yet in place to produce fuel on a mass scale, we are able to see that this is the direction we need to heading.

If you look at yield as a measure of viability, an acre of corn can produce approximately 20-30 gallons of Ethanol or 1,680,000 to 2,520,000 Btu's (84,000 Btu's per gallon) of energy; biodiesel derived from Soybean Oil produces approximately 70 gallons per acre or about 9,100,000 Btu's (130,000 Btu's per gallon), whereas biodiesel derived from Algae can produce up to 100,000 gallons or 13,000,000,000 (yes that's 13 Billion) Btu's (130,000 Btu's per gallon) from a single acre of non-arable desert.

As an oversimplified example if you converted 7,786,000 acres to the production of Algae Oil and converted that to biodiesel you could meet all of the fuel needs for transportation in the US. Note: This is about 10% of the size of New Mexico.

While this is likely a long way off, I believe our government and others in private industry should be investing in developing this technology as quickly as possible.

This technology can also be used to soak up huge amounts of CO2 and it leaves behind a biomass suitable for animal feed and many other possibilities.

Below, is a YouTube CNN video that shows some of this technology and how it can work.

We would appreciate your comments, questions, and ideas.

Diesel Doctor

Monday, February 16, 2009



Type - 4-stroke cycle diesel

Cylinders - 9-static radial configuration

Cooling - Air

Fuel injection - Directly into cylinders at a pressure of 6000 psi

Valves - Poppet type, one per cylinder

Ignition - Compression-glow plugs for starting -air compression 500 psi at 1000 F.

Fuel - Distillate or "furnace oil"

Horsepower - 225 at 1950 rpm

Bore and stroke - 4 13/.16 x 6 in.

Compression ratio - 16:1---maximum combustion pressure 1500 psi

Displacement - 982 cu in.

Weight - 510 lb without propeller hub

Weight-horsepower ratio - 2.26 lb hp

Where manufactured - U.S.A.

Fuel consumption - .46 lb per hp/hr at full speed

Fuel consumption - .40 lb per hp/hr at cruising

Oil consumption - .04 lb per hp/hr

Outside diameter - 45 - 11/16 in.Overall length - 36 - 3/4 in.

Optional accessories - Starter---Eclipse electric inertia; 6 volt

Generator -Eclipse type G-1; 6 volts. Special Series no. 7

The specifications from SMITHSONIAN ANNALS OF FLIGHT,

The First Airplane Diesel Engine Packard Model DR-980 of 1928

Robert B. Meyer 1964

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Accidental Mixing of Gasoline and Diesel

Accidental Mixing of Gasoline and Diesel

Recently a customer of ours had a problem where their fuel supplier mistakenly unloaded 3000 gallons of ULSD#2 into their unleaded gasoline tank that contained about 700 gallons of gas.

When this happens there is very little that you can do beyond having the tank completely pumped out and then replacing the fuel.

Diesel in gasoline will generally cause the engine to either not start at all of run very poorly.

There is no acceptable amount of diesel in gasoline, although the engine will likely run if the amount of diesel is only 1 or 2% of total.

Gasoline in diesel is an equally serious problem. Even very small amounts (1%) can affect the flash point of the fuel significantly. This lowering of the fuels flash point can have catastrophic effects on the engine as it affects the fuels ignition and can also strip the lubricating ability of the diesel fuel, quickly damaging pumps and injectors.

In the past truck drivers would sometimes add a small amount of gasoline to their diesel fuel to try and prevent gelling. Many of these drivers feel that at long as the engine kept running it must be a good idea. It has never been a good idea for the reasons mentioned above and the fact that the engine kept running does not take into account increased wear and failures that happened days, weeks, or months later.

The addition of Ethanol to most gasoline available today simply makes using any amount of gasoline in diesel a very dangerous proposition.

In general, you should have this contaminated fuel taken away by a company licensed to handle it.

If you ever get gas in your diesel or diesel in your gas, the safest thing is to immediately without running the engine, have the tank drained and then replace with the correct fresh fuel.

Please let us know what you think and any experiences you may have had.

Diesel Doctor

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Snake Oil - The Good, the Bad and the Really Ugly

Snake Oil
The Good, the Bad, and the Really Ugly

As someone who has worked in the chemical business for a number of years, I always cringe when someone uses a term like “Mechanic in a Bottle” or “Snake Oil” to define the chemical industry in general and fuel additives in particular.

Unfortunately many of the companies out there today with products that do little or nothing and even worse those that actually cause more harm than good have given the industry a black eye

This has made it a real challenge for those of us that have dedicated their businesses to producing real products, that solve real problems, and produce real measurable results.

So here I want to offer some things to consider when you look at a new chemical product.

When you hear about a product claiming a 15% to 20% or more improvement in fuel economy, you should be skeptical.

We were recently asked to analyze and report on a product that made claims of improving fuel mileage by 10% to 17%, increasing horsepower, reducing hydrocarbon emissions, providing additional lubricity, and several more.

The only claim to involve any real numbers in all of their literature is the mileage claim, so let’s start there.

Cleaning up Combustion Chamber, Fuel Injector, and Valve Carbon Deposits does make a real difference in engine operation and efficiency. You can improve starting, drivability, fuel economy, and emissions by cleaning up those deposits.

In a very dirty engine you might be able to make an 8% to 10% improvement in fuel economy. However if you look at a fleet operation or an average individual engine you are realistically looking at a 3% to 5% improvement.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ethanol/Gasohol Problems with 2 Cycle Engines

Ethanol/Gasohol Problems with 2 Cycle Engines

2 Cycle gasoline engines have new challenges when used with gas containing Ethanol.

A 2 cycle engine gets all of its internal lubrication from a special oil mixed with the gasoline. This premix of oil and gasoline can have serious problems when Ethanol is added to the gasoline. Lubricating oil normally creates a bond with the metal components of the engines. The oil molecules create a boundary layer that protects the metal and reduces friction.

When Ethanol is present it will actually get between the oil and the metal, preventing the boundary layer from forming. This results in little or no protection for the moving components, and little or no reduction in friction forcing the engine to work harder, run hotter, and often to destroy itself.

Also many small engines have plastic carburetors, fuel tanks, and other components that Ethanol can soften or dry out which will cause them to fail. Many rubber fuel lines, o-rings, gaskets, and other parts can be delaminated or turned to a gelatin like material often failing very quickly.

Storing this type of equipment with Gasohol (Ethanol blended fuel) can lead to catastrophic failure in a relatively short time.

There are a very small number of additives that can reduce the negative characteristics of Ethanol in the gas.

We recommend that everyone operating 2 cycle engines switch to a pure synthetic two cycle oil.
The synthetic oil will provide the boundary layer lubrication in spite of the Ethanol.

Please add your comments to this post.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Cold Weather Information

Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel
Cold Weather Information

The Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD (S-15)) that we started to receive in mid 2006 has shown some dramatically different cold weather characteristics from the earlier High Sulfur (HSD (S-5000)) and Low Sulfur Fuels (LSD (S-500)).

These new characteristics including higher temperature gelling, wax dropout, icing, and difficulty in treating have in the first year and will continue into the foreseeable future to provide some significant challenges to distributors and end users during cold weather.

Due to these new characteristics users in areas of the US where they have not seen cold weather problems in the past, are now and will continue to see serious issues with gelling, wax dropout, and icing.

Here are the main issues known today:

Wax in diesel fuels – Paraffin wax is a natural and important part of diesel fuel. This wax provides several beneficial characteristics including high energy content (Btu’s), lubricity, stability, and viscosity. The negative characteristics mainly revolve around cold weather operation and include gelling and something new we refer to as wax dropout.

In HSD and LSD the wax characteristics were relatively well understood and consistent. For example the “Rule of Thumb” used for adding kerosene (#1 diesel, Jet A) to #2 fuel to lower Cold Filter Plug Point (CFPP) was that for every 10% kerosene added to #2 diesel you would lower CFPP by approximately 5°F. An example would be that a 50% blend would have improved CFPP by about 25°F.

However the new ULSD has had several important characteristics changed by the new refining processes. The catalytic cracking and hydrodesulfurization processes remove some of the wax, it alters the size and shape of the wax seed crystals in the fuel, lowers the aromatic content of the fuel, removes a significant amount of the Lubricity, and lowers the fuels ability to dissipate static electricity by as much as 100 times.

The result of this is that the ULSD fuel actually will gel at a higher temperature than the old LSD and HSD. This problem is made more difficult because we can no longer use regular kerosene (#1 diesel, Jet A) for cold weather blending. These fuels are considered High Sulfur and their use would cause the end fuel to have sulfur content higher than the allowable 15 ppm. So refiners have had to create an ULSD #1 specifically for winter blending purposes.

There are a number of problems with this new fuel. First, it is currently very expensive, ranging anywhere from $.30 to $1.00 more than regular kerosene, second it is not available in all areas, and third this new ULSD #1 is not as effective at lowering the Cloud Point (CP) and CFPP (gel point) of the fuel. For example; ULSD #2 when blended with 10% ULSD #1 will lower the CFPP by only 2°F or maybe 3°F. This means that a 50% blend would only improve CFPP by 10°F.

To make this problem even more difficult, many of the diesel fuel anti-gel additive products that have been on the market for last 5 to 30 years have little or no effect on ULSD. The change in fuel chemistry brought about by changes in the Catalytic Cracking processes and the addition of Hydrodesulfurization have rendered many of the most popular products nearly useless in ULSD.

There is a new cold weather problem that the industry has not adequately defined
as of today. We are calling this issue “Wax Dropout”. Wax Dropout occurs when diesel fuel is “cold saturated”. This where the fuel reaches a given temperature and stays at or below that temperature for a given period of time. This time period is usually between 48 and 72 hours or longer and the temperature can vary with different batches of fuel. This past winter we saw this problem at between 5°F and 10°F.

When the fuel gets to the Wax Dropout temperature, say for example 8°F and stays there for 48 to 72 hours, the wax will suddenly agglomerate and fall to the bottom of the container. This wax plugs filters and fuel lines until it is removed or until the fuel temperature is raised to a point where the fuel will reabsorb the wax.

Again there is a further complication, in that the “old” HSD and LSD wax would gradually start to reabsorb as the fuel temperature rose. With ULSD when wax dropout has occurred the wax does not begin to reabsorb until the fuel reaches fairly high temperatures, often above 40°F, 50°F or even higher. This can make the process of getting an engine with gelled fuel to run properly far more challenging than we have ever seen before.

In the fuel distribution and fleet operations businesses, we have relied on CFPP as
a measure of winter fuel quality for many years. CFPP is a fairly complicated test involving using a vacuum to draw a sample of fuel through a 45 um (micron) screen within a given period of time.

When the HSD and LSD were most prevalent and most fuel filters were 10 um there was a good correlation between CFPP and the temperature at which a standard fuel filter would plug. For example you could be relatively certain that a fuel testing for CFPP of -25°F would provide trouble free operation to -15°F to -20°F.

However the relationship is much different with ULSD. A ULSD fuel testing
-25°F CFPP might have filter plugging problems at between -5°F and -10°F. Also CFPP does not seem to be directly related to Wax Dropout. A fuel can test for
-15°F and still have Wax Dropout at 8°F.

Furthermore, OEM engine manufacturers have changed the media size of their fuel filters. Where 10 um has been almost an industry standard, we now see 7 um, 5 um, and even 2 um filters today. This throws the whole relationship between CFPP and winter operability out the window. For example fuel that is at the CP can have filter plugging problems with a 2 um fuel filter.

The industry has not yet agreed on or developed testing methods to measure cold weather operability with the new fuels and filters.

Until such time as the industry develops a test method for determining the relationship between CFPP, PP, Wax Dropout, and filter media size for ULSD, we suggest the following: For 10 um filters; Take the midpoint between PP and CFPP, for 7 um filters, take the midpoint between PP and CFPP, then take the midpoint between that number and the original CP, for 5 um and 2 um use the CP.

Water is more of a problem than ever before. Diesel and biodiesel fuels hold
water dissolved in them. The amount of water that ULSD is able to hold is greater than that of HSD or LSD. One of the characteristics of fuel is that its ability to hold water in solution diminishes as the temperature decreases. Fuel delivered at 70°F with 200 ppm of dissolved water will as the temperature drops begin to push that water out of the fuel into droplets. These droplets can be seen floating in the fuel and as temperatures reach and go below 32°F those droplets freeze becoming ice crystals.

As a result many of the cold weather problems where people believe they have fuel gelling problem are actually a fuel icing problem. If you have operability issues in temperatures above 0°F you should check to be sure that you aren’t dealing with ice.

Customers are regularly reporting situations where they have no water in storage tanks, no water in vehicle or equipment tanks, but they constantly have water in filters and separators. This is due to the dissolved water falling out of solution due to temperature changes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Long Term Fuel Storage

Long Term Fuel Storage


Under normal storage conditions diesel fuel can be expected to stay in a useable condition for:

9-12 months or longer at an ambient of 70ºF.

6-12 months at an ambient temperature higher than 85ºF.

Note: There are many factors that will affect storage life, including but not limited to:

· Ambient temperature

· Temperature variation - the wider the range, the more likely you are to have problems

· Above-Ground versus In-Ground Storage

· Dissolved water content of the fuel

· Humidity

· Quality of the fuel when added to tank

· Condition of storage tank

· Materials used in the tank and fuel piping system

As diesel gets older, fine sediment and gums will form in the fuel brought about by a chemical reaction between components in the diesel fuel with oxygen from the air. The fine sediment and gums can block fuel filters, leading to fuel starvation and the engine stopping. Frequent filter changes are then required to keep the engine going. The gums and sediments do not burn completely in the engine and this incomplete combustion can lead to carbon and soot deposits on injectors and other combustion surfaces.

The expected life of a diesel fuel can be indicated by the oxidation stability test ASTM D2276. The test measures how much gum and sediment will be deposited after keeping the fuel at 120°C in the presence of oxygen for 16 hours. It roughly corresponds to one year storage at 25°C. A result of less than 20mg/L of sediment and gum after the test is considered acceptable for normal diesel.


The aging process can be accelerated by the following conditions:

• Contact with zinc, copper or metal alloys containing them. These metals will quickly react with diesel fuel to form unstable compounds.

• The presence of water. Water allows the growth of fungus and bacteria, these produce natural by-products such as organic acids which make the fuel unstable.

• Exposure to high temperatures.

• Exposure to dust and dirt which contain trace elements that can destabilize the fuel, such as copper and zinc.

• Fuel composition. Some components in diesel fuel naturally age quickly.


Prolonging the storage life is achieved by removing or controlling the conditions described in the previous section. Important measures to take are as follows:

• Ensure that the fuel is not in contact with any surfaces containing zinc or copper or compounds containing those metals (e.g. brass). If those metals are present then a metal deactivator additive may help.

• Establish a regular fuel maintenance program to ensure that water and dirt is removed from storage tanks. This will also remove any chance for fungus to grow.

• Water should be drained from the storage tanks weekly. The frequency can be extended if the tank shows no tendency to collect water but should be done at least monthly.

• Tanks should be kept full to reduce the space for water to condense, maintaining tanks half full increases the water build up and promotes corrosion in the top half of the tank. Most water will come from condensation as the tank breathes. The rate at which water collects will depend on local climate and will be higher in hot humid coastal areas.

• Tanks if possible should have a well defined low point where water will collect and can be drained. For example, cone down bottoms.

• Establish a system for filtering the contents of the main storage tank through a recirculating filter system. This can be made automatic and will reduce the potential for problems by removing sediment and gums. The filters should be checked and changed at regular intervals. When the filter change interval reaches a certain frequency then the fuel should be changed over.

• Tanks should be emptied and cleaned at least once every 10 years, or more frequently if there is a major contamination.

• Ensure that the fuel supplied conforms to a recognized specification to ensure the fuel matches the winter cloud point for the area to avoid filter blocking by wax drop out in cold weather.

• Always purchase fuel to replenish stocks in the winter season November - March. This will help to ensure that the fuel will not cause wax problems whatever season it is used.

• Obtain assurances from the supplier that all components are fully refined to promote stability.

• Establish a monitoring program whereby samples are taken at regular intervals to monitor the condition of the fuel. The samples can be examined at the site visually for evidence of haziness, sediment, darkening or sent to a laboratory for testing.

• Regularly turn the fuel over. If possible, plan the fuel usage so that it will all be used within 1-5 years and replaced with fresh fuel.


The following additives can improve fuel storage life:

• Metal deactivators. These work by stopping copper, zinc and other reactive metals from reacting with the fuel.

• Fungicides/Biocides. These work by stopping fungus and bacteria from growing in the fuel and so prolong the life of the fuel. They are only effective on fungus and bacteria and will not stop other oxidation reactions from taking place. They are normally active at the water fuel interface where the fungus and bacteria grow. If fungus is present then a kill dose is required. Otherwise a maintenance dose is used to stop fungus growing.

The disadvantages of biocides are:

• Handling and mixing is hazardous because they are poisons.

• When using a kill dose, it is important to remember that killing the fungus can lead to a buildup of dead matter which will block filters and also cause the fuel to oxidize.

• Ideally, the fungus should be killed and then the tank emptied and drained out.

• Maintenance doses are effective but no more so than regular water draining and or the use of a Water Dispersant.

• Disposal of water bottoms requires special handling with due regard to the environment.

• Anti-Oxidants. These work by stopping the oxidation processes from taking place. They prevent the fuel oxidizing and reduce the formation of sediment and gum.

As always, your questions and comments are welcomed and encouraged

Oxygen (O2) Sensor and Catalytic Converter Failure Problems

Oxygen (O2) Sensor and Catalytic Converter Failure Problems

Oxygen sensors (O2) used in most of today's automotive gasoline engines are failing at an ever increasing rate.

There can be one to five sensors per vehicles and having them replaced can cost a consumer $100.00 to over $300.00 each.

Also, they rarely fail together, which means a customer can have one replaced and be back next month or even next week to have another done. This can go on and on until the customer takes their business elsewhere.

This can happen in brand new vehicles with low mileage or older high mileage ones.

Vehicles such as ambulances, police cars, and service equipment that have long idle periods and or a high percentage of idle time; and vehicles used for short trips are most susceptible to these problems.

Interestingly, most of these "failed" sensors are not actually defective or even worn out. What has happened, is that a small amount Ethanol in the gasoline (gasohol) will get past the piston rings and into the motor oil.

The Ethanol with agitation and heat liberates some of the phosphorus from the motor oil. This phosphorus is vaporized and sucked into the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system and burned in the combustion chamber. This burned phosphorus on its way out the exhaust coats the O2 sensor(s) building up in layers.

This phosphorus coating acts as a insulation causing the sensor to react slower than normal. The engine computer reads this slow reaction time as a failure of the sensor forcing its replacement.

Note: This is the same material that coats catalytic converters causing them to go "cold" or cease to function.

Replacement of the sensor(s) is not the only option. It is possible to with a properly formulated chemical additive to clean up and remove this coating (both from O2 Sensors and Catalytic Converters) with a service procedure or with a tank additive.

The danger is that 98% of the additives on the market today are not properly formulated, and these poor quality products can actually make the problem worse, by permanently damaging the sensors or converters.

Remember; a well recognized brand name is no guarantee that it is a good product. Some of the biggest names are actually the poorest products.

It is also possible that with regular treatment, you can actually prevent these problems from ever happening in the first place.

Please comment on this and any of our other posts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fuel and Water - They Don't Go Together

Fuel and Water

They don't mix and you shouldn't try to make them.

One of the more interesting characteristics that is shared by diesel, biodiesel, gasoline, and gasohol is that all these fuels are hygroscopic.

Hygroscopy is the ability of a substance to attract water molecules from the surrounding environment through either absorption or adsorption.

Some examples of this phenomenon are that Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) will hold approximately 2/10 of 1% dissolved water. This may not sound like much, but if you do the numbers they show that 2/10 of 1% equals 2 gallons of water dissolved in 1000 gallons of fuel. If you work backwards, that would equal 1 gallon of water in 500 gallons of fuel, or 1 quart (32 ozs.), in 125 gallons, or 1 pint (16 ozs.), in 62.5 gallons, down to about 8 ozs. in a 30 gallon tank.

That much water can cause severe corrosion of fuel system components such as injectors, pumps, connectors, and even metal fuel tanks.

That level of water speeds the oxidation and chemical breakdown of the fuel.

That level of water is enough to encourage the growth of bacteria and fungi.

One of the most insidious characteristics of water dissolved in fuel is that the fuels ability to hold water is dependent on temperature. Simply put the warmer the fuel (up to a point) the more water it hold.

What often happens is that fuel stored for example at 60°F will absorb that 2/10% water then as the fuel in a vehicle gets colder more and more of that water is pushed out of the fuel becoming liquid water droplets.

These droplets can collect in filters and if the temperature drops below 32°F those droplets turn to ice crystals quickly plugging filters and causing other problems.

Fuel at 28°F can hold approximately 1/2 as much water as fuel at 60°F.

This means that you can have clear fuel with no liquid water at 60°F and if the temperature drops sufficiently, you can have large amounts of free water suddenly appear as the temperature drops.

To make matters worse biodiesel can pickup and hold 10 times as much water as ULSD. So adding 2% or 5% biodiesel to regular diesel can dramatically increase the level of dissolved water.

Gasoline containing Ethanol suffers the same problem.

A 10% Ethanol blend can hold 3.8 teaspoons of dissolved water at 60°F.

However if more water is added or if the temperature drops significantly this fuel suffers a problem called "Phase Separation".

In Phase Separation the dissolved (or liquid) water binds to the Ethanol and this Water/Ethanol mixture will drop out of the fuel.

This has a series of negative affects on the fuel quality and can have catastrophic effects on engines.

We will discuss more about this later.

We look forward to your comments and questions.

Root Cause Failure Analysis

Root Cause Failure Analysis
Diesel fuel has been identified by at least one OEM as a Root Cause of Engine Fuel System (pump and injector), EGR, EGR Cooler, Sensor, and Turbocharger failures.

Ford Motor Company recently issued a new TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) regarding vehicles using the 6.0 Liter PowerStroke engine.

TSB 08-2-7 stating that “Some vehicles with a 6.0L diesel engine may exhibit white smoke, black smoke, lack of power, exhaust odor, surges, or no start as a result of excessive coking deposits (un-combusted or incompletely combusted hydrocarbons). The root cause of the coking must be corrected or the coking may reoccur”.

They further state: “Coking deposits are generally un-combusted or incompletely combusted hydrocarbons and can form on system components such as the EGR Valve, EGR Cooler, EBP Sensor, EBP Tube, Intake Manifold, Turbo Charger, Catalytic Converter, and EGR Throttle Plate”.

“Un-combusted deposits can be linked to delayed combustion events. Delayed combustion events can be a function of hard to ignite elements (poor quality fuel, excessive fuel, engine oil, or excessive exhaust gas recirculation) in the combustion chamber or a delayed injection event (calibration, wire chafe, injector mechanical issue (Sticktion)).

“Un-combusted fuel is usually evident as a fuel scented white exhaust smoke. Un-combusted fuel may create coking which impairs system functionality eventually leading to black exhaust smoke/poorly combusted fuel”.

In situations where injectors have built up carbon deposits to the point of not being able to properly atomize the fuel, or EGR Valves that have coked or “carboned” up to the point of no longer being able to regulate the Exhaust gas Recirculation, or EGR Coolers that have plugged, to Turbochargers coked to the point of no longer being able to vary their geometry; common practice has been to replace very expensive parts.

Later some companies developed systems to “flush” the EGR’s and Coolers. Flushing will temporarily improve the operation of the engine, however this type of repair lasts only a short time and the initial problems usually reoccurs.

Oftentimes the same parts are replaced many times and then you have the problem where the one part that is not functioning correctly causes other related parts to fail.
In these instances it is vitally important to determine the root cause of these failures. There is a suggested method to do this:

  1. Define the problem.

  2. Gather data/evidence.

  3. Ask why and identify the causal relationships associated with the defined problem.

  4. Identify which causes if removed or changed will prevent recurrence.

  5. Identify effective solutions that prevent recurrence, are within your control, meet your goals and objectives and do not cause other problems.
  6. Implement the recommendations.

  7. Observe the recommended solutions to ensure effectiveness.

Today the Root Cause of 80% to 85% of the diesel engine fuel system related problems is poor fuel quality and fuel characteristics.

In the case of the problems described above on the Ford 6.0L and most of the fuel system and related problems found with other diesel engines, the Root Cause of the Failure is poor fuel quality.
You can replace parts and flush till the cows come home and you will continue to have the same problems over and over and over again.

Note: Albert Einstein once described insanity as: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Ford has recommended the use of a Cetane Booster and Performance Improver to improve fuel quality and reduce coking and un-combusted fuel problems.

This is not a Ford only or PowerStroke only problem. Every engine manufacturer has to deal with these problems in one form or another.

Monday, February 9, 2009

UREA use in 2009 and 2010 Diesel Vehicles

Urea Use in 2009 Light Duty and 2010 Medium and Heavy Duty Diesels
Hold on, here comes the next big change in diesel engines. Starting with the automotive market in 2009 and then with virtually all of the medium and heavy duty diesel vehicles in the 2010 model year, diesel engined vehicles will require an additional fluid to operate.

These vehicles will require an “aqueous urea solution” as defined by ISO 22241-1 using test methods described in ISO 22241-2:2006. This is a solution of 32.5% Urea in deionized water.
This Urea solution is used as part of a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system to reduce the NOx emissions of diesel fueled engines.

These systems require that a tank of the Urea solution be installed on the vehicle. The Urea is meter injected into the exhaust stream after the turbocharger where the exhaust heat will convert it to ammonia which is then used by a special type of catalytic converter to significantly reduce the formation of NOx. This system will function as long as there is Urea available.

This is a complicated system with maintenance requirements, cold weather operability issues (Urea freezes), and quality concerns.

There is a wide ranging debate on what type of driver information systems are to be required, what will happen if the system runs out of the Urea solution, and where Urea will be available.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Black Fuel Filters - Asphaltenes - Re-polymerization

Black Fuel Filters – Asphaltene Production and
Re-polymerization in ULSD Fuels
Have you seen filters that look like this.

There is a difficult new problem with ULSD fuels. Today most ULSD is derived using the process of catalytic cracking. This form of refining uses very high temperatures, high pressures, and chemicals known as catalysts to refine crude oils into various fractions including Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel. The fuels derived using these processes suffer from a wide range of problems including a lack of oxidative and thermal stability.

This lack of stability manifests itself in many ways including an increased ability to hold dissolved water, an increased negative reaction with oxygen, and a far greater inability to handle high temperatures over time. Different refining processes and catalysts can make these problems better or worse. It appears that certain refineries produce fuels which are far less stable than that of others.

Diesel engines recirculate fuel to lubricate and cool the fuel system and engine components, In the past fairly large volumes of fuel were recirculated and this tended to keep temperatures lower, generally in the 140°F to 160°F. Today some of the newer engines can heat that fuel to temperatures that can exceed 200°F or even 220°F.

When some catalytically derived fuel is exposed to temperatures above 100°F for extended periods of time such as when fuel is recirculated in a diesel engine, the catalytic process starts up again re-polymerizing parts of the fuel. This results in rapid deterioration and darkening of the fuel. In this process small droplets of asphaltenes (heavy oils) are formed.

When the fuel is again pumped from the tank, the fuel filters will pick up the tiny asphaltene droplets, agglomerating them until the filter or filters are plugged. This can happen in 3000 to 5000 miles with some instances of plugging in less than 1000 miles.

While there are additives that can add thermal and oxidative stability to fuels, they are not commonly used by refiners or fuel distributors. These additives are not found in most aftermarket additives.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ethanol Marine Lawsuit

Ethanol Marine Lawsuit

BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon-Mobil, Shell Oil, and Tower Energy are being sued by a Florida boat owner who is trying to make it a class action for problems allegedly (read likely) caused by the Ethanol that was added under rules issued by the state of Florida.

This after similar lawsuits in California.

In this case the Ethanol is said to have damaged the fiberglass fuel tanks on many boats. It is understood that Ethanol will soften, breakdown, and dissolve certain types of fiberglass. This liberated fiberglass can then be carried by the fuel into the engine, damaging fuel pumps, carburetors, fuel injectors, intake systems, intake and exhaust valves, and so on.

These tanks can be damaged to the point of affecting their ability to hold fuel, resulting in leaking and the potential for fire and or explosion.

Also, consider that as these tanks are damaged by the ethanol they can be weakened to the point that it can have a material effect on hull and deck integrity.

Removing and replacing tanks can easily range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars often approaching and even exceeding the value of the boat.

Furthermore the damage to fuel systems and or engines can be equally catastrophic.

However, the more significant question may be, if a government entity forces a private corporation(s) to alter their product against their will to meet a legal regulation or specification (note: the oil companies went to court in an effort to overturn the requirements to add ethanol and they lost), are these companies then responsible for damages caused by these changes.

Ethanol is reported to damage rubber components like o-rings and hoses, plastic tanks and fuel system components, aluminum, brass, copper and other "soft" metals.

We should also consider the damage being done to snowmobiles, motorcycles, lawnmowers, all 2 cycle engines, all seasonal equipment, to say nothing of all the non-flex fuel automobiles and trucks being fueled with ethanol blended gasoline's.

No good has ever or will ever come from politicians playing chemist. You cannot legislate chemistry.

Who will be responsible for the hundreds of millions in damages being done every day by these fuels?

We would like to hear how you feel about this and other fuel, oil, and coolant related issues.

New Cold Weather Problems with Biodiesel Identified

New Cold Weather Problems with Biodiesel Identified
The recent bout of very cold weather in the northern tier states has shown new issues with biodiesel blends containing as little as 2% biodiesel.

We are seeing a significant number of customers that are having problems with the filters on their diesel fuel dispensers.
In nearly every case the customers are receiving a B2 to B5 blend.

In most of these cases they are not having vehicle or equipment problems, but rather problems getting the fuel from the storage tank to the vehicle tank. The dispenser filters seem to plug anywhere from a few hours to a few days of operation.

These filters when opened contain what at first appears to be wax. However when analyzed this material appears to be a glycerin type material. If you then bottom sample the storage tank, you generally find a material that resembles cottage cheese. There is often a layer that starts at the tank bottom and can be several inches thick of this material.

When this layer reaches the level of the pickup tube it can very quickly plug the dispenser filter.

This issue has several variations and we have identified several potential causal factors.

  1. Fuel that has a high level of dissolved water. This high water content seems to be a significant factor in all of these cases.

  2. Fuel derived from animal fats (including plant / animal blends of biodiesel) seems to be a factor in these problems.

  3. Long periods (more than 72 hours) of temperatures below 32 °F (the longer it is cold and the colder the average temperature the greater the problem).
    Above ground versus in-ground fuel storage.

  4. Use of additives – Some help, some make things worse.
    CP, CFPP, PP of the diesel portion of the blended fuel.

  5. Quality of the blend procedure and temperature at which the fuel and biodiesel are blended.

  6. Storage period.

Another factor in the rapid plugging of these dispenser filters is that as filter media starts to plug the filter actually begins to reduce the micron size of the media so that the filter picks more and more material that is smaller and smaller.

Also consider that a diesel engine tends to heat the fuel during the recirculation process whereas a dispenser provides no heat.

We offer some suggestions for users experiencing these problems.

  1. If you have this problem today you can go to a dispenser filter with a large micron size. There are winter filters available from Cim-Tek with a cleanable 144 micron stainless steel mesh.

  2. You can have the tank pumped from the bottom to remove this material. Depending upon your tank size, you may need to remove 50 to as much as 300 gallons to eliminate this problem.

  3. You can add certain types of additives that will break this material down and return it to solution.

  4. You can add kerosene (Note: if you have Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel, you MUST use Ultra-Low Sulfur Kerosene). ULSD Kerosene is very expensive and it can take a lot of it to resolve this problem.
    Ask for your next two or three loads of diesel to be delivered with no biodiesel.

  5. Ask for biodiesel blends derived only from plant base oils during the fall and winter months.

  6. Additization with the correct products can help to prevent these problems.
    If you have access to biodiesel that has been through a distillation process, you will have far less problems.

Please let us know about your experiences with these problems

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Biodiesel Confusion New Labeling Requirements

Biodiesel Confusion

The diesel fuel/biodiesel market has recently gotten a lot more confusing. We now have another Federal agency involved in the diesel fuel marketplace.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has now created labeling requirements for diesel, biodiesel, and biomass based diesel.

These requirements have wide ranging consequences for all diesel fuel users.

First, diesel fuel may now contain up to 5% biodiesel or biomass-based diesel with no retail labeling required as long as the blended product meets ASTM D975 (note: ASTM D975 is being changed to allow up 5% biodiesel/biomass-based diesel to be blended as part of a diesel fuel).

Second, there are (according to the FTC) now two types of biodiesel, the first is the one most people are familiar with, where a plant, seed or animal derived oil is through transestrification converted to a Methyl Ester that is defined by ASTM D6751 and commonly referred to as biodiesel. The other is known as “Biomass-based Diesel”, this a fuel derived from biomass that does not contain Methyl Esters (note: there currently is not an ASTM specification for this product).

Third, effective December 16th, 2008, all retail fuel pumps are subject to the following labeling requirements based on Section 205 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA): Fuel blends containing no more than five percent (5%) biodiesel or no more than five percent (5%) biomass-based diesel and that meet ASTM D975 require no label.

Fuel blends containing more than five percent (5%), but no more than twenty percent (20%) biodiesel require a dispenser label 3”w x 2.5”h with a Blue background and a Bxx reporting the exact percentage or “Between B5 and B20” statement.

Fuel blends containing more than twenty percent (20%) biodiesel require a dispenser label with a Blue background and a Bxx reporting the exact percentage or “Containing more than 20% biodiesel statement.

Biodiesel that is “neat” or B100 must be labeled as “B100 Biodiesel” and “Contains 100 percent Biodiesel” on a Blue background.

Fuel blends containing more than five percent (5%), but no more than twenty percent (20%) biomass-based diesel require a dispenser label 3”w x 2.5”h with an Orange background and text reporting the exact percentage or “Between 5% and 20% Biomass-based Diesel” text statement.
Fuel blends containing more than twenty percent (20%) biodiesel require a dispenser label with an Orange background and text reporting the exact percentage or “Containing more than 20% Biomass-based Diesel” statement.Biomass-based Diesel that is “neat” or 100% must be labeled as “100% Biomass-based Diesel” on an Orange background.

Note: You should visit the FTC website at: at look at: 16 CFR Part 306 - RIN #3084-AA45 for more complete information on these requirements.

What this means in the real world is that suppliers can now add up to 5% biodiesel in retail fuels without notification to customers.

If you want biodiesel and have done your homework on what is required to successfully and safely use this fuel you should note what you want as you order your fuel.

If you do not want any biodiesel you should issue a written purchase order to your supplier telling them exactly what you want, e.g. no biodiesel.
Note: under the new ASTM D975 spec, 5% is allowed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Diesel Fuel Mileage Decrease in Winter

Why Diesel Fuel Economy Drops in the Winter

Diesel fuel, particularly in the northern tier states changes rather significantly from season to season. In the cold weather months generally starting in September or October refiners begin to alter the chemical composition of diesel fuels to improve cold weather operability characteristics to meet ASTM, Pipeline Operator, and Customer requirements and specifications.

Refiners talk about the components that come out of the refining process as “streams”. In a typical refinery today there can be over 180 “streams” coming from the refining of crude oil. The addition of lighter product streams are known by names such as “aromatic chemicals”, “naptha’s”,” kerosene’s” and others to #2 diesel (whether Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (S-15) or Low Sulfur Diesel (S-500)) will lower (improve) the Cloud Point (CP), Cold Filter Plug Point (CFPP) commonly referred to as the gel point, and Pour Point (PP) depending on how much of those components are added to the base fuel. Refiners have a lot of latitude in determining how much of and what components are used to make these improvements.

The issue from a fleet operators standpoint is that these changes lower energy (Btu) content of the fuel. It is normal for fuel economy to decrease from one to as much as five percent seasonally. This decrease can be further exacerbated by fuel racks and or distributors further cutting with kerosene to try and improve cold weather operability. The normal energy content of #2 ULSD ranges between 138,000 and 140,000 Btu’s, kerosene is much lower ranging between 130,000 and 135,000 Btu’s, whereas gasoline is about 124,000 Btu’s per gallon.

As you can see the more lighter components added to fuel, the lower the energy content. Note: ULSD has 1%-3% lower Btu content than the LSD. This is primarily due to reduction in wax content in ULSD.

So if you put all of this together in a time line, you can see that you begin using additive to improve cold weather performance at the same time the refiners are blending the fuel in a way that reduces Btu content which lowers your fuel economy, then in the spring you stop using additive at the same time the refiners are going to a “summer” blend which increases the Btu content and so your mileage goes up.

Other cold weather considerations are more idle time, slower transit speeds, more time in traffic, and even driving through snow all, of which can have a significant negative impact on fuel usage.

Cold Filter Plug Point versus Cloud Point

CFPP (Cold Filter Plug Point) vs. CP (Cloud Point)
Cold Weather Operability in Diesel Fuels including ULSD

Traditionally the two main considerations for diesel fuel have been Cloud Point (CP) and Cold Filter Plug Point (CFPP).

Let’s start by defining the terms:

Cloud Point (CP) ASTM D2500 – This test determines the point where wax becomes visible in a fuel sample. This wax first appears as a floating cloudiness in a transparent fuel.

Cold Filter Plug Point (CFPP) ASTM D6371 – This test is a more complicated procedure involving using a vacuum to draw a 20cc fuel sample through a 45 micron screen within a 60 seconds.

There is usually but not always a spread between CP and CFPP of 2°F to 8°F.

CP is a first indicator of cold weather operability temperatures for diesel fuels. It is a visible indication of paraffin wax in diesel fuels. Prior to the introduction of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD, S-15) into the US market, the importance of CP was often discounted by many due to fact that diesel engines could generally successfully operate at temperatures many degrees below the CP.

Up until the introduction of ULSD many if not most operators used CFPP to provide a reference temperature for cold weather operability with diesel fuels. This is however a complicated and imperfect test. As mentioned above, CFPP uses a vacuum to draw a sample of the fuel through a 45 micron screen within a given time. The point at which the sample fails to go through the screen in 60 seconds is the CFPP.

The main issue is that up until recently most fuel filters used a 10 micron filtering media. The significant difference 10 microns and 45 microns caused a disparity between the test and real world operations. However many in the industry felt that this differential was consistent and that provided a reliable guide for cold weather operability.

For example if you had a CFPP of -30°F, you could feel reasonably confident that you could operate to -20°F.

However three new factors need to taken into account due to changes in fuels and engines.

1. The new ULSD fuel does not appear to provide the same consistent differential between CP and CFPP as we had come to expect with High-Sulfur Diesel (HSD, S-5000) and Low-Sulfur Diesel (LSD, S-500).

2. The new phenomenon of Wax Drop Out (WDO) where under periods of extended “Cold Soak” (48-72+ hours) the wax in the fuel suddenly drops out of the fuel can happen at temperatures that can be above the CP. This problem appears at this time to be independent of CP or CFPP.

3. As diesel engines have become more sophisticated there has been a rise in fuel injection pressures. In order to obtain these higher pressures OEM’s have had to manufacture pump and injector parts to ever closer tolerances. Today many injectors have tolerances in the 2 micron range. These tight tolerances and the very high cost of making and replacing these components have caused manufacturers to use fuel filters with smaller media to protect these components. Where in the past fuel filters typically were 10 microns, today we are seeing filters of 7, 5, and even 2 microns.

This makes the problems associated with ULSD even more difficult. Cloudy fuel that would easily pass through a 10 micron filter can often plug a 5 or 2 micron filter. This makes correcting the cold weather operability issues of ULSD like hitting a moving target. Today you need to adjust your fuel treatment to reflect the engines and filter arrangements in your fleet.

We are now suggesting a formula based on both CP and CFPP. Take the difference between CP and CFPP, divide by 1.5 and add to the CFPP to get a safe operability number.

Example: CP = 8°F, CFPP = 3°F

The difference between 8 and 3 = 5, 5 x .75 = 3.75, Take the CFPP of 3 and add the 3.75 to it equaling 6.75°F. You could expect to reliably operate that fuel in an engine with a 7 to 5 micron filter at 6-7°F.

For those operating 2 micron filters we suggest using the CP of the fuel.

For those still able to operate with 10+ micron filters, we are suggesting a number half way between CP and CFPP.

It is important to remember that the traditional method of using Kerosene or Jet A to “cut” or blend with HSD or LSD to lower the CFPP and Pour Point (PP) is not as effective or reliable as it was in the past when using the new ULSD #1 to cut or blend with ULSD #2.