Different Kinds of Contamination in Fuel Tanks

The contamination concern for contemporary fuel tanks comes in 3 basic areas, namely inorganic debris (sand, dust, and rust), water and organic debris (this has something to do with fuel breakdown byproducts). They actually comprise the bulk of the contaminants that are normally identified in fuel and fuel oil.  

Most of the time, people, by mistake refer to microbial contamination as algae in diesel fuel when in fact it is more closely associated with petroleum gums, lacquers, and varnishes as opposed to it having something to do with “algae”. 

To set the record straight, algae can’t grow inside the confined spaces of modern fuel storage tanks. It is because they need light to grow, they won’t stand a chance if they find their way to your fuel containment tank. But there are microbes, in the form of fungus, molds, and bacteria — these microorganisms are perfectly suited to grow and thrive inside fuel tanks. Hence, they can induce problems in your stored liquid fuel. 

How Fuel Itself Can Change

Those who are seasoned in the fuel management and operations will agree with us in saying that the quality of today’s fuels is far too different from the fuels of decades past. If in case they fail or can’t see it most overtly, there is a good chance that they’d identify it instead in the gamut of problems that will plague it as never did before. 

Understanding how these liquid fuels have changed over the years is paramount to understanding how you’d be able to address these fuel contamination issues, particularly the measures you can come up with as a form of resolution.  

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Fuels Before Used To Have a Longer Shelf Life

We qualify the liquid fuels of yesteryears as pretty much more “stable” when compared to what we have today. Back in the 60s, the US Army conducted a study on liquid fuels and their expected storage life. They concluded that gasoline can be stored for a minimum of 2 – 5 years. Besides, they also found out that they can store diesel fuels for 10 years, without having to worry about it having a future problem.  

We have a good reason to feel alarmed about this because liquid fuels before don’t even come close to how they used to be. Common gasoline nowadays would last for about 90 days only. As for diesel fuel, 26% of it is likely to degrade within the first 28 days. And this can accelerate even more up to 95% should it contain even a measly amount of water. Hence, it is safe to say that it is way, way down for fuel storage life nowadays.  

Stored Liquid Fuels Are Not Likely to Get Checked

If all these factors are put into account, think about all the old stored fuel tanks that are dispersed all throughout the four corners of the country. Most of them are going to have partial or old diesel trace amounts in them

Stored fuel of this type is not likely to get checked professionally, not unless there is a compelling reason to do so — pretty much like how we dread the onslaught of a major hurricane. It can move us to action and get ourselves prepared for it. 

One can only imagine what can get going for the liquid fuel in those tanks. They are sure to get used up, but there is no certainty or assurance that serious fuel contamination is not on its way.  

Microbial growth can be considered as the single, major problem in liquid fuel nowadays simply because it is capable of either degrading or destroying its quality. If this happens, it runs the risk of hurting your equipment, machinery, or vehicle. 

Microbial contamination in fuel tanks can clog filters or alter the pH level of your stored liquid fuel. It may even induce damage or corrosion to your tank. 

Any time that you see there is water inside your liquid containment tank, rest assured that microbial growth is not going to be very far behind.