Most Diesel Engine Failures
Originate In The Fuel Tank
The Real Story of Bad Diesel Fuel
Frequent diesel fuel filter changes and the expensive and time consuming task of cleaning diesel fuel tanks have become acceptable periodic maintenance instead of a warning signal for diesel engine failure. Diesel fuel filter elements should last a thousand hours or more, and injectors some 15,000 hours. However, since diesel fuel is inherently unstable, solids begin to form and the accumulating tank sludge will eventually clog your diesel fuel filters, ruin your injectors and cause diesel engines to smoke.
The solids that form as the result of the inherent instability of the diesel fuel and the debris formed in the natural process of fuel degradation will accumulate in the bottom of your fuel tank. The sludge will form a coating or "bio-film" on the walls and baffles of the fuel tank, plug your fuel filters, adversely impact combustion efficiency, produce dark smoke from the exhaust, form acids that degrade injectors and fuel pumps, and impact performance. Eventually fouled diesel fuel will clog fuel lines and ruin your equipment.
Filter plugging, often the first symptom of a problem, can have several causes and often critical consequences. For example, low temperatures can cause wax crystallization, which can lead to fuel filter plugging. An example would be using untreated summer diesel fuel in cold weather. Wax or paraffin is part of the diesel fuel. This can be quickly be treated by changing to winter grade fuels or by using an additive made to lower the fuel pour-point and improve cold flow filtration properties.
Contaminant build up resulting from excessive microbial growth and bio-degradation of diesel fuel can cause fuel filter plugging without regard to temperature. Micro-organisms, bacteria and enzyme activity, fungus, yeast and mold cause diesel fuel degradation and the formation of waste products. The process is similar to milk turning into cottage cheese, a different form of milk. (To understand the "Rest of the Story about microbial and bacteria in fuel, CLICK HERE.) Of all the microbial debris and waste products in the diesel fuel tank only about .01% is "bugs". Even though microbes may cause and accelerate the process of fuel degradation, it should be clear that the waste products clogging your filter are not the microbes but fuel components which have formed solids. These waste products can float in the fuel, being visible when looking into a fuel tank, but also coat the sides, bottom, baffles, and even top of the tank - wherever the fuel touches. Most service personnel are quick to recommend the application of a biocide product to the fuel to address the problem. Unfortunately, by the time you realize you have a problem, the effectiveness of biocides are limited. If a heavy bio-film has accumulated on the inside surface of the tank or other fuel system components, the biocide may not be able to penetrate to the organisms living deep within the film. You may see short term relief, but the problem quickly returns as the remaining organisms further reproduce.
Frequently, the application of a biocide aggravates the situation and turns bio-film into solids, creating a real fuel filter nightmare. As a further complication in the use of biocides, the removal of water from a tank bottom that was treated with biocides must be disposed of appropriately because biocides are toxic.
Bio-film develops throughout the entire diesel fuel system. As most organisms need water to grow, bio-growth is usually concentrated at the fuel-water interface in the bottom of the tank. The organism colony feeds from nutrients in the fuel additives. It takes time for the organisms to grow to produce enough acidic byproducts to accelerate tank corrosion or biomass sufficient to plug filters, so a problem may not show itself for months. If you have a problem now, its genesis was likely 6 or months ago!
Keeping the water out of the tank is the first and most important step. Water often enters the tank through badly fitting or missing fuel caps. But even with good housekeeping, water still gets into tanks on a regular basis. Fuel used is replaced by air drawn in through vents. This air often brings moisture with it. Temperature fluctuations cause droplets to condense on the inside walls of fuel tanks and accumulation of water over time provides the habitat for the organisms to reproduce. Also, an unlucky end user may be filling up his fuel tank and getting water, organisms and this debris delivered as a part of the process of taking on diesel fuel, for the same price as the diesel fuel, This is less common than many folks think, but it does happen.
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Clean Your Fuel System
by Simply Running the Engine
The Rest Of The Story
AXI International (formerly ALGAE-X) provides a Total Fuel Management System that will provide all users of diesel fuel with protection, performance, fuel economy and lower maintenance costs. It doesn't matter if your diesel engine is on a sailboat, large recreational fishing cruiser, luxury yacht, heavy truck, you work a farm or are involved in construction or mining, or just operate equipment that involves consuming a large volume of diesel fuel with multiple storage tanks, or back-up generation systems for industry or emergency management. The AXI systems solve your diesel fuel problems.
You may need to start by determining if you have a problem. If you're thinking about it, then you probably do. Look first for the symptoms of diesel fuel deterioration: clogged and slimy filters - dark, hazy fuel - sludge build up in tanks - loss of power and rpm - excessive exhaust smoke - corroded and pitted injectors - foul smelling fuel.
If you have been treating your diesel fuel with a biocide, but still find you have the symptoms of fuel deterioration, you have looked far enough. Commonly used chemical testing procedures will show a negative presence of bacterial and fungal growth as a result of the biocides. Concluding that the fuel is in acceptable condition and the fuel system is healthy because of the lack of active bacterial or fungal growth would be a misinterpretation of test results. This does not mean that the diesel fuel is in acceptable condition.
The Liqui-Cult test we recommend should not be used to determine if the diesel fuel is within specifications, but rather to determine a baseline for diesel fuel condition before installation of the AXI Fuel Management System appropriate to your application. After the Fuel Management System has done its job, test again to monitor diesel fuel quality and periodically as necessary. Monitor the presence of other factors (the 'symptoms' noted before installation of the Magnetic Fuel Conditioner unit or system) to confirm that the system is performing to your expectations.
If your diesel fuel system demonstrates the symptoms outlined above, procedures for removal of water in the tank bottom should be the first step. The extent of water contamination can be determined using Kolor Kut Water Finding Paste on a rod inserted into the tank. By running the rod to the bottom of the tank, the paste on the rod that changes color indicates how much water is in the bottom of the tank.
A small siphon can be used to determine the condition (visual signs of growth) of the water. You can also use a length of 1/2 inch PVC pipe like a soda straw to extract water. With your thumb over the end of the pipe, insert the pipe to the bottom of the tank. Remove your thumb allowing the bottom tank material to rise up inside the pipe. Replace your thumb over the end, remove the pipe, and empty the contents of the pipe into a clear plastic 2-liter soda drink bottle. Repeat the process to fill the bottle and then allow it to sit overnight.
If a large amount of water is present, the water should be pumped out. The AXI Portable Tank Cleaning System (TK-240) or, for a larger tank or multi-tank installation, the Mobil Tank Cleaning (MTC) unit, mounted on a cart, allows you to pump water off the bottom of your fuel tank.
Since every tank configuration is unique, and sometimes the access to a tank is only the fuel filler neck, it may be necessary for you to customize a soft copper pipe to snake into the bottom of the tank. Pump the water from the tank bottom into a bucket or drum for proper disposal. After all the free water that can be removed has been removed, small residual amounts of water can be removed using the AFC-705 Diesel Fuel Catalyst fuel additive. The AFC additive will emulsify the residual water and allow it to be circulated during the next phase of the fuel polishing process. Using a water-block filter element in the TK portable system, the MTC cart, pallet mounted system, or FPS Wall Mounted System will remove the emulsified water from the fuel while also filtering particulates.
As an ongoing preventative maintenance procedure, water in the fuel tank can be dealt with by using the Water Eliminator. The Water Eliminator can be kept in the tank and monitored at each refueling to determine the presence of water. Additional diesel fuel filtration and water removal can be achieved with the installation of a supplemental Fuel Filter/Water Separator.
The addition of AXI AFC-705 Diesel Fuel Catalyst will stabilize the fuel and enhance and accelerate the tank cleaning process by breaking down, dispersing, and dissolving existing tank sludge and slime, stabilize and restore fuel quality, decontaminate compartments of the tank that are out of reach of the suction line, and eliminating costly tank cleaning and fuel disposal fees. Treatment with the AXI Magnetic Fuel Conditioner (MFC) completes the process of making the diesel fuel clear, bright, efficient, and usable.
Utilizing a commercial fuel cleaning service that re-circulates the diesel fuel through a mobile diesel fuel filtering system before using the AFC-705 and installation of the AXI Magnetic Fuel Conditioner is not necessary. It is also not necessary in most instances to pump the tank (except it is important to remove the water in the tank bottom) and incur the expense of disposing of "bad fuel". Often this savings alone will pay the cost of an AXI Tank Cleaning System.
Save your money! Use the AFC-705 periodically to provide peak engine performance: removes and prevents carbon build up, improves combustion, lowers fuel consumption, adds lubricity to low sulfur fuel, prevents corrosion of injectors, reduces harmful emissions, and extends equipment life.
If you are in a region where use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel (ULSD) is required, AXI AFC-710 is Tier 4 Compliant. AFC-710 has a chemical affinity to the hydrocarbons in your diesel fuel, helping your engine tap into your fuel's full potential by burning it more completely. While it is doing so, it's also cleaning out your fuel system from the fuel tank, to your injectors, to your combustion chamber, and through to your exhaust.
Installation of the Magnetic Fuel Conditioner, in most instances, is an easy do-it-yourself process. Purchase the size MFC based on the fuel line port size and flow requirements (never smaller than the inside diameter of the fuel line). Locate the MFC unit between the fuel tank and the primary filter. There are various installations available for multiple tank systems. In applications involving more than one engine, an MFC should be installed on each engine fuel line. Various sizes are available to accommodate fuel line diameters from 1/4 inch to 2 inches, and larger for bulk tank installations and other uses. For very large or industrial installations, the FC Series of Magnetic Fuel Conditioners are available. The MFC is made in the U.S.A. and comes with a lifetime warranty.
The AXI Magnetic Fuel Conditioner only works, however, when the diesel fuel circulates through it. In applications where the diesel engine is used less than intermittently or only every several weeks, then the AXI Fuel Polishing System (FPS, TC, or STS Systems) will be required to periodically polish the diesel fuel and maintain the clear and bright character of the fuel that is critical to optimum performance. Models range from systems that utilize a manually operated analog timer to units that have Digital Programmable Interface. The systems are set to run the diesel fuel through an MFC and filter/dewater unit for several hours, maintaining fuel quality. If an application requires a custom re-circulation system, Carter Fuel Pumps, replacement fuel filters, water sensors, flow meters, hoses, and other components are available. Digital fuel flow recording meters and a fuel pressure gauge showing pressure drop can assist in determining when fuel filters need changed, instead of changing the filter at a predetermined, arbitrary interval.
In applications where automatic periodic polishing is necessary, unattended remote treatment poses risks. The AXI STS Units incorporate a four-stage fuel conditioning and filtration system that includes all safety and control devices for remote operation in an isolated compartment inside the fully enclosed weatherproof system cabinet. This system is ideal for critical back-up generator systems (hospitals, data centers, emergency police/fire departments, office buildings, etc.) or large marine applications.
Many commercial and industrial maintenance operations require the cleaning and treatment of multiple tank systems. In situations where a marina services multiple vessels, a service operation must treat back-up generator facilities in numerous locations, or an industrial facility has numerous tanks distributed over far-reaching locations, the AXI Mobil Tank Cleaning (MTC) unit handles fuel filtration, MFC treatment, and water removal from tanks. The unit is mounted on a cart and easily transported to the tank for use on a scheduled basis.
Large fuel storage tanks have the same problems of smaller installations. The MTC-HC Pallet Mounted High Capacity systems can be installed at fixed tank installations or configured for mobil use, with circulating capacities from 50 to 150 gallons per minute treatment rates for tanks up to 50,000 gallons.
If you are a small business owner that utilizes low-volume tanks and need only occasional fuel cleaning and polishing, a farmer that needs to treat fuel tanks on only a couple pieces of equipment or a generator, or a homeowner that wants to maintain their own backup power generator, sometimes bigger is not better. AXI has a portable, hand-carried, Portable Tank Cleaning Kit (TK 240) that is ideal for economical treatment of diesel fuel or for occasional fluid transfer needs. These units are 12- or 24-volt and weigh under 30-pounds. Accessories are available to upgrade these portable units with a stand, filter wrench and an 8-oz. bottle of AFC-705 Diesel Fuel Catalyst package.
The results of utilizing the AXI Systems can only be fully appreciated after your own investment in a system, but there are numerous reports that demonstrate that installations greatly benefit both small and large volume installations. A U.S. Coast Guard report provides a bottom-line analysis showing a recovery of investment within six months, demonstrating the breadth of system benefits.
Contact Pecuniary, Inc., distributor for AXI International, and solve your diesel fuel problems once-and-for-all!