KEEPING FUEL HEALTHY is the key to a healthy diesel engine. Below are four impor- tant considerations to keeping fuel clean. Start by adding clean fuel, which means buying your fuel from a reliable source.
Fuel that’s been languishing for months in an underground storage tank is more likely to
have water, rust, and even bugs.
Microbial bugs can’t live without water. Keeping the tank topped off minimizes condensation. Check your fuel separator routinely for water, which can signal a problem that will
have to be corrected.
Check if your fuel distributor uses biocides in its fuel. If not, adding a biocide may be
helpful, but take care to use the recommended dosage.
Change filters at least annually. Slimy, smelly filters are indications of a microbial fuel
infection. If filters, especially secondary filters, look dirty, consider having your tank emptied
and cleaned. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle.
we talked to haven’t seen any indications
of corrosion problems.
When the transition was made to LSD in
1993, there were problems with leaking gaskets. Newer gaskets that resist leaking were
developed, but there were some fears that
the gaskets might not stand up to ULSD.
After talking to numerous marina owners
and engine manufacturers, leaking gaskets
don’t appear to be a problem.
effect on the fuel’s lubricity rating and four
additives significantly lowered the lubricity.
Diesels rely on compression (and not a
spark) to ignite the fuel. A higher cetane
number means the fuel will ignite more readily, run smoother, and produce less smoke.
All diesel fuel must have a cetane rating of
at least 40. Most regular diesel fuel has a
cetane rating of 43 to 45, which should be
fine for most boat engines. The good news is
that the cetane numbers remained the same
Since ULSD was introduced in 2006, some
suppliers have reported accelerated corrosion in underground steel storage tanks.
The cause is unclear and no one is certain
whether it’s related to ULSD, an additive, or
something that occurred during the transition from LSD to ULSD.
(Curiously, in Europe, where ULSD has
been in use for much longer, there have been
no corrosion issues.) The only solution, thus
far, is to keep tanks as clean as possible with
no water in the bottom so there’s nothing
with which the fuel can react. Boat repairers
WATER AND “BUGS”
Microbial growth — bugs — needs water
to grow and that’s always been a concern
with diesel fuel. ULSD holds less water than
older, higher-sulfur fuels. While that sounds
like good news, it’s not; any water that finds
its way into a boat’s tank is less likely to be
absorbed into the fuel and more likely to
wind up at the bottom of the tank, where
it can help spawn the dreaded microbial
“bugs.” Biocides kill bugs (freezing temperatures also kills bugs), but their tiny little car-casses accumulate at the bottom of the tank
and form a funereal goo. It’s possible that
tanks may need to be cleaned more often to
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