Bulk diesel fuel is common in mining, power generation, transportation, retail and back up generators used at data centers, hospitals and universities (just to name a few).  Global demand for diesel engines are projected to increase 7% in the next 2 years.  With that, Tier 4 High pressure Common Rail (HPCR) injection technology requires cleaner diesel fuel.

So, what is clean fuel?  And, how do we know when the fuel is clean?

The cost of downtime in diesel applications is significant.  Consider the costs of loss of use of critical equipment or cost of failure of a backup generator system at a data center or hospital.  The costs can be staggering.  Which is why not only is proper diesel fuel conditioning critical but monitoring cleanliness levels.

The two main contamination constituents in diesel fuel is water and particulate.  Solid particulates such as rust, dust, dirt and metallics cause over 80% of fuel system failures. Hard particles damage surfaces of injectors, altering clearances that affects the delivery of the fuel to the combustion chamber and cause premature fuel pump failure.  Water contamination causes lubrication breakdown, oxidation and promotes microbial growth.

A bulk fuel kidney loop conditioning system should address both water and solid contamination issues.  Any inline fuel coalescing filter/separator should have a particulate filter ahead of it as well.  Furthermore, condition monitoring should be an integral part of the fuel filtration system.  Otherwise, how do you know if the fuel is clean?  Fuel deliveries will vary greatly so knowledge is power and good practice.

As manufactures of oil purification equipment used to protect high speed rotating equipment and hydraulic oil systems, we already have the technology to offer the most up to date monitoring instrumentation.  Laser particle counting has been an essential component in our business for years.  Using this technology in the clean diesel market allows our customers to have up to the minute information about their fuel cleanliness.

Earlier in this blog post, I asked two questions.  I will answer the second question first.  How do we know when the fuel is clean?  We use the industry standard ISO 4406:99 for reporting fluid cleanliness.  In short, ISO 4406:99 reports three numbers.  Each number tells us how many particles are counted per 1 ml. of 4µm, 6µm and 14µm and larger (µm=micron).  To read more about ISO 4406:99, please refer to my November 2014 blog post.

Explanation of ISO Cleanliness Codes

Explanation of ISO Cleanliness Codes

As long as you know what your cleanliness target number should be, the online laser particle counter will give you that information in real time.

Which brings me to my first question, what is clean fuel?  You may get differing opinions.  Many OEM specifications as well as the worldwide fuel charter specify and ISO cleanliness code of 18/16/13.  This doesn’t mean that we filter our bulk fuel storage tanks to 18/16/13.  18/16/13 should be our outer control limit on a bell shaped curve.  Three standard deviations on a bell shaped curve means that the bulk fuel storage cleanliness level should be around 15/13/10.

The laser particle counter is an extremely useful device to incorporate on a kidney loop coalescing & filtration system for bulk diesel fuel.  We encourage our customers to add this option when buying a skid mounted filtration and coalesce system.

Parker ICount Laser Particle Counter

Parker ICount Laser Particle Counter

The same instrument is offered in a portable version.  Having a portable particle counter is very helpful when you have several tanks.  It also allows users to test incoming fuel from deliveries.

High Purity Northwest is proud to be a system integrator for Parker/Velcon.  They provide us with innovative and cutting edge technology and training.

One Comment

  1. Steve Belcher-Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you for the information. As someone who has been around fuel for 40+ years, we have come a long way from the chunky blue stuff that was common before the 1980’s. It’s unfortunate that the” drop it and forget “ legacy we had for fuel is so difficult to overcome. I am constantly working to educate our customers on the need for fuel monitoring and conditioning. Of note, prior to being a EPSS service provider 8 years ago, I was a facilities manager who took pride in staying on top of industry best practices for mission critical equipment. I will profess my ignorance regrading fuel up to about 6 years ago when in my review of ongoing reliability issue with a few EPSS units, I traced the root cause back to fuel contamination due to poor fuel storage and handling. The more I dug into it the more I came to realize that our assumptions regarding fuel where greatly in error in the context of ULSD and modern diesel engines.

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