Dirty fuel is a fact of life. Even with the development of cleaner-burning fuels, contaminants are still a major concern when it comes to fuel systems.
No. 2 diesel fuel is one of today’s most variable fuel sources. Its quality and purity range unpredictably from very good to very poor.Current API specifications allow “acceptable” levels of impurities (sulfur and wax) and contaminants (dirt, ash and water). It’s likely that these regulations will weaken even further in the future.
The deterioration of fuel is inevitable. Contaminants are introduced into the fuel system through mixing, transferring, and storage.Baldwin Filters has a full line of fuel filters to protect today’s engines from contaminants. With spin-ons, elements, fuel managers and fuel/water separators, Baldwin has the filter to fit most applications.In addition, the DAHL/Baldwin fuel/water separators offer an additional line of defense for applications where significant amounts of water need to be removed. DAHL fuel/water separators feature a unique, patented depressurizer cone that spreads the flow of fuel, allowing greater separation of water and dirt from fuel. The Basics of Fuel FiltrationMicro-organisms can quickly become major problems. Colonies of fungus and bacteria, both aerobic and anaerobic, feed on your fuel. Commonly known as humbugs, they spread rapidly in the presence of moisture. They ride along with the fuel, easily pumped from one tank to another.As the micro-organisms accumulate, they will spread through the fuel system and quickly plug the fuel filter. A coating of slime will develop over the entire surface of the media. Chemical treatment with a biocide is the only effective solution to the problem of bacterial and fungal growth.Contaminants arrive in your fuel in two forms — precipitates and particulates.Precipitates are non-combustible materials formed when fuel oxidizes. They may also form if, as sometimes happens, two incompatible fuels are blended. Significant swings in temperature accelerate the precipitation problem. Because precipitates are generally heavier than fuel, they tend to settle to the bottom of tanks. Decanting or carefully drawing off the fuel will leave the precipitates behind.Particulates, sometimes called “asphaltines,” are black, tar-like contaminants. A residue of the refining process, particulates plug filters quickly. There is no known chemical treatment for the removal of these contaminants.Wax, in moderation, is a desirable fuel component — it adds energy to the fuel. In operation during cold weather, however, control of wax becomes necessary, usually by applying additives or changing to a higher grade of diesel fuel. Like water, wax begins to thicken at colder temperatures. As wax gels, it can restrict and eventually stop fuel flow. Wax thickening involves a couple of critical temperature points:
Cloud point — the temperature at which solid crystals of wax begin to form — the fuel looks opaque, but it still flows.Pour point — the temperature at which the gel forms — the fuel cannot be poured.