Fuel contamination is a series risk to all industrial fuel suppliers, or any businesses that store or transport large quantities of fuels and oils. Fuel contaminations can harm your business in a variety of different ways, from forcing you to throw away contaminated product to damaging the machines or vehicles you use. No matter how fuel contamination affects your business, one thing for certain, is that it’ll be costly to rectify!

What Is Fuel Contamination?

Fuel contamination is something that happens when water, particulate, or microbial growth finds its way into the fuel from the outside atmosphere. This can happen through a number of different methods.

Certain types of microorganisms are strong enough to continue growing in the fuel, if this isn’t treated early, it can cause unfortunate and irreversible damage to your fuel systems, tanks, and equipment. This kind of contamination is a particular risk for biofuels.

Other methods of contamination include physical dirt or sediment being accidentally transferred into the tank or a barrel during refilling, or even water contamination coming from moisture in the air condensing on the inside of your tank during the colder months.

How Do I Know My Fuel Is Contaminated?

There may be tell-tale signs that your fuel has become contaminated based on how your machinery or vehicles are performing, such as:

  • Engine running rough or lacking power/performance.
  • Engine harder to start than usual.
  • Misfiring, pinging, or backfiring.
  • “Engine check” light illuminated.

Other signs of fuel contamination can be found within the fuel or tank itself. Slimy or dirty residue on the inside of tanks or barrels is a sure sign that some of your fuel has become contaminated. If you’re checking the fuel directly, look for a cloudy appearance or physical specs of dirt floating in the fuel.

Consequences of Contamination?

Here are some examples of how your fuel, tank, and equipment can be affected:

  • Reduces engine performance
  • Fuel isn’t fit for use
  • Premature failure
  • Expensive to repair/replace

How Do I Prevent It From Happening?

One of the most vital ways that anyone needs to know to prevent contamination of fuel is to cap and cover the fuel lines when maintenance operations take place. Capping and protecting the fuel lines when maintenance occurs can prevent unwanted particulates and moisture from entering and ruining the system.

Of course, you can only be so careful! Most fuel tankers will become at least slightly contaminated over time, and these issues only get worse the longer you leave them. This means that the best prevention method for fuel contamination is to ensure you’re conducting a professional inspection of your fuel and tanks every 12 months as a minimum! After your annual inspection, removing contaminants must be done through a process of fuel uplifting, fuel polishing, and finally, tank cleaning before returning the fuel.

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