Why Biofuels Could be a Problem

12th October 2021 Holm Truths

The storage of fuel on construction sites has long been a problem. The first consideration should always be around environmental impacts and the safe storage of the fuel but there is another issue machinery operators need to be aware of. The effect of bacterial growth in fuel, especially in bulk storage tanks where the bacteria is given time to grow. 

 

What is bacterial growth in fuel? 

Bacterial growth occurs in biodiesels. This is because Biodiesel is a form of diesel fuel derived from plants or animals and consisting of long-chain fatty acid esters. It is typically made by chemically reacting lipids such as animal fat (tallow), soybean oil or some other vegetable oil with an alcohol, producing a methyl, ethyl or propyl ester by the process of transesterification. The plant content in this fuel is what causes bacterial growth. 

Biodiesel also has an affinity for water and easily absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. This water then supports this microbiological growth in the fuel storage tanks. 

 

Fuel Tank

 

Why is this becoming more of a problem? 

Biofuels are seen as a good medium-term solution to traditional fuels as we move towards a world where electric vehicles are the norm. They are made from more sustainable energy sources than either petrol or diesel. For this reason standard diesel can now contain up to 5% of biodiesel. The new E10 petrol now contains up to 10% of biofuel. 

 

What problems occur with bacteria in fuel?

Biodiesel blended into refined diesel fuel increases the incidence fuel filter clogging. This is because the Sterol glucosides and bacteria in the fuel clog filter papers and elements. With the bacteria being a growing organism the longer the fuel is being the pumped through the filter the worse the clogging will become. This will eventually end in excess wear and damage to the engine. 

 

What can I do to prevent this problem occurring?

The first action to take to ensure fuel tanks are treated with a Deisel Biocide fuel additive. This is a simple and quick solution and is available from our sister company HTS - https://www.htsspares.com/catalogue/oil-and-lube/fuel-conditioning-cleaning/show/fuelbright-ultra-care-diesel-biocide-0 

Following this it is good practice to ensure you are regularly changing fuel filters including inline filter elements. At Holm we list all types of fuel filters for every type of construction equipment found in the UK today - https://holmfilters.com/ 

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