Diesel Direct

Microbial Growth Lurking in Your Fuel Tanks

October 30, 2013

Different times of year pose different factors that can affect your fuel tanks. It is critical that you are aware of these issues so that you know how to recognize when you have a problem. Fall, with its colorful foliage and fun Halloween celebrations, brings its own set of issues for those of us responsible for the proper functioning of our diesel fueled truck fleets, construction equipment, and emergency generators. Although fuel tanks are safe from cold flow issues for the time being, you should know there could be something lurking in the depths of your tanks this time of year: microbial growth.

The Link Between Biodiesel and Microbial Growth

With the addition of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (USLD) and biodiesel, microbial growth has become a more frequent problem in our industry. Even if you don’t use pure biodiesel fuel, most diesel fuelpurchased today can have between 2 and 5% biofuel. What is biodiesel you ask? It’s a fuel comprised of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats that meets the fuel specification requirements of ASTM D6751. The blending of the biofuel into our diesel is part of the renewable fuel mandate. In essence, whether you want it or not, biodiesel is probably present in your supply chain.

Your fuel tank also has several things working against it: time, temperature, and water. All diesel fuel has a level of water present and statistics show that for every 10,000 gallons of delivered diesel fuel, one gallon of water may be present. Through good housekeeping, this issue can be remedied and controlled.

Signs That You May Have Microbial Growth

Time plus temperature plus water equals microbial contamination in the form of bacteria or fungi. These microscopic organisms feed on the fuel and live in water. These are some of the signs that you may have an infestation of these microscopic organisms in your fuel tank:

  • Plugged filters and fuel lines
  • Rotten egg or foul smell of fuel
  • Injector issues
  • Low MPG

Do you think you may be affected by this problem? Our knowledgeable fuel management experts are here to provide you with top quality fuel delivery and on-site refueling and can help you when these situations arise.