It’s all around us and also in your fuel system. The quality of today’s diesel fuel has not advanced. In fact it’s deteriorated. Today’s diesel fuel contains more asphaltene solids and water than the fuel of just a few years ago.
Alphaltenes are components of asphalt, that are generally insoluble and are present to some extent in all diesel fuel. These black tarry asphaltenes are hard and brittle, and are made up of long molecules. Fuel with a high percentage of asphaltenes affect the engine performance by reducing the ability of the fuel to burn completely. Asphaltenes also shorten the life of the primary and secondary fuel filers. Water is the greatest concern because it is the most common form of contaminant. Water is introduced into the fuel system by pumping fuel with water in it all ready, condensation, leaking deck fill o-rings. The effects of water in the diesel fuel can be serious. Water can cause the tip of the injector to blow off, reduce the lubricity of the fuel which can cause seizure of the close tolerance assemblies such as plungers. Water that enters the combustion chamber can result in even more serious damage. When water comes in contact with the heat of the combustion chamber it turns to steam and often explodes the tip off the injector or over pressurize the chamber and cause structural damage to the combustion chamber. Water causes corrosion in the injection fuel system, fuel storage system, and reduces combustibility. It is estimated that eight out of ten diesel engine failures have been directly related to poor quality and contaminated fuel. The buildup of contaminants in the engine fuel system and storage tanks can quickly clog filters, resulting in engine shut down, fuel pump wear, diesel engine damage.
Using a water detector is the most simplest way to protect the engine from injecting water into the combustion chamber. Mounting a water probe into the primary filter will sound an alarm when the filter starts to accumulate water, and way before it the fills the filter with water. Large quantities of water can enter a tank that has a bad deck fill o-ring and after a good down pour could result in gallons of water seeping into a tank, also taking on new fuel can have several gallons of water in it. The water detector is not going to stop the water from entering the fuel system but will warn you that you have a problem.
How many time have you heard about the boater that left the dock after fueling or sat in an anchorage for months and the engine shut down when they left port due to water problems?
is needed to keep the water out of the fuel system, polishing the fuel not only cleans the contaminants (asphaltenes) from the fuel but also removes water. Keeping the water out of the system will reduce the development of micro organisms.
while you are taking on fuel will give you a good idea about the fuel that has been pumped into the tank, just check the filter bowl. Polish once a month will help remove any water that has accumulated and keep the tank cleaner. If you do not have a water detector, check the filter bowl as you eave port to see if water is in the filter bowl, then check it shortly after again to see if it is building in the fuel bowl, this is not always easy, but it’s better that damaging your engine.
Please see our line of fuel polishers and FilterBoss fuel systems
By Andy Keenan – Lead Engineer at KTI Systems Inc. Parts of article adapted from “Diesel High Injector Operation.” PowerPlant Magazine