Your fuel should be clean and bright, whether it’s road diesel or red diesel. You should be able to see through it like water, regardless of whether it is yellow or red. If you’ve taken a sample of your gasoline and are wondering why it’s hazy, or even worse, why it’s lost all transparency and is now a milky consistency, you may have a water contamination problem. This article will explain what causes hazy and milky diesel fuel and how to remedy it, as well as how to avoid it from happening again.
So, what causes diesel fuel to look cloudy?
It’s crucial to know the difference between free, suspended, and emulsified fuel to understand why your fuel is milky or foggy.
As you may be aware, fuel can be polluted with water due to rain, humidity, and the natural water content in today’s biodiesel. You may not be aware that water contamination in diesel fuel can take two forms: free versus suspended and emulsified water. So, what’s the distinction?
- Free water – As the name implies, free water is present in the tank but exists independently of the fuel. It settles to the bottom of the tank, forming a water layer beneath the fuel. The diesel bug thrives here, putting your equipment, vehicles, and engines at risk.
- Suspended water – Your foggy diesel fuel is now the result of this form of water pollution. Suspended water is water that is bound to the fuel molecules and is mixed in with the fuel, giving it a murky appearance. When the diesel tank becomes too full to hold any more water, it begins to leak free water to the bottom of the tank.
- Emulsified water – As the fuel passes through pumps and filters, it is subjected to pressure variations, agitation, and strong cavitation, which causes the water content to totally emulsify, turning it from hazy to milky diesel fuel. There is essentially no separation between the fuel molecules and the water content at this point.
If you’ve taken a foggy diesel fuel sample and found it, we recommend taking a sample from the bottom of the tank as well, as you’re likely to have a problem with free water. Both types of water pollution must be addressed immediately, as they can have disastrous consequences such as diesel bug/nasty sludge growth, clogged filters, damaged pumps, engine failure, and fuel system corrosion.
How to fix cloudy diesel fuel?
If you notice milky or hazy diesel fuel, you must act quickly to avoid costly repairs and downtime. But how do you go about doing it?
1. Filters for fuel tanks
Standard fuel tank filters that remove water before it is distributed into your vehicle or equipment are an excellent solution for removing free water, but they do not remove emulsified water. While they are a cost-effective method for dealing with one aspect of fuel pollution, they cannot remove the water that causes your diesel to seem hazy. Furthermore, ordinary gasoline tank filters only address the issue after the fuel has been delivered. They do not alleviate the difficulties associated with diesel bug growth and sludge formation since they do not aim to eliminate the water content while it is resting in the tank.
2. Polishing of the fuel
Fuel polishing is a method of removing cloudiness from diesel fuel. This service is normally performed by a professional on a regular basis and entails withdrawing the fuel from the tank and passing it through highly effective filters that eliminate pollution to EN590 diesel fuel quality standards. Both the free and emulsified water content in the fuel will be reduced to the required 200ppm after fuel polishing. But what happens to your tank’s water content between fuel polishing services?
3. Water absorber for the Aquafighter fuel tank
While alternative diesel tank water absorbers are available, Aquafighter is the only fuel tank water absorber that also eliminates the suspended and emulsified water that creates hazy and milky gasoline.
The beauty of this solution is that all you have to do is drop Aquafighter into a storage tank, genset belly tank, or vehicle fuel tank through the biggest aperture, and the diesel tank water absorber reduces water content levels to less than 75ppm. As a result, the EN590 diesel fuel specifications of 200ppm are met and exceeded. The Aquafighter fuel tank water absorber works in this way to maintain your fuel tank free of water and foggy fuel at all times, without the need to remove the fuel first.
Now that you know what milky or foggy diesel fuel is, you’ll understand why it’s so important and how to address this water pollution side effect before it becomes a major problem.
Why does diesel get cloudy?
- Gelling: It’s unusual to have a situation where the fuel practically turns to jelly. Gelling happens when the paraffin wax in diesel solidifies due to a drop in temperature, and the fuel’s temperature must be kept below minus 10 degrees F for extended periods of time, such as 48 to 72 hours. When diesel is cold soaked, the paraffin wax in the fuel hardens, giving it a hazy look. At temperatures as high as 32 degrees F, the fuel will begin to cloud, but it will continue to flow. Before the fuel can gel, it must be kept at a very low temperature for an extended period of time. It’s common to hear drivers complain about their fuel gelling up, but this is almost certainly not the issue they’re having. Ice or solidified paraffin wax in the fuel filter is more likely to be the issue. There’s more on that later.
- Cloud Point: To determine the cloud point of a sample of diesel fuel, which is the temperature at which the naturally present paraffin wax in #2 diesel fuel begins to crystalize, there are prescribed methods. The fuel has a hazy look due to the microscopic particles of suspended hardened wax. Cloud point temperatures for diesel fuel typically vary from -18°F to +20°F, but can reach +40°F depending on a variety of factors connected to the base stock and refining operations. The cloud point of so-called winter diesel fuel (#1 diesel or kerosene) is substantially lower since it contains relatively little paraffin. Fuel distributors will test the product and, if requested, may include the results in tenders and delivery receipts.
- The temperature at which a liquid loses its flow properties is known as the pour point. The pour point of diesel fuel changes according on the wax content in the fuel, which varies depending on the source of the base stock, the refining process, and the type and quantity of additives added to the fuel during refining or distribution. The difference between the cloud point and the pour point is always there, with the latter often being 2° to 20°F lower than the former. To establish the pour point of a fuel sample, certain tests must be performed. Bulk providers, as previously stated, can supply this information.
- When diesel fuel is cooled, the cold filter plugging point is a measurement based on a standardized test that indicates the rate at which it will flow through a standardized filtration equipment in a given amount of time. The CFPP is the point at which the sample fails to pass through the filter in the time allotted.
What causes cloudy fuel?
More than half of all fuel-related issues are caused by contamination, or the presence of something that isn’t supposed to be there. This comprises both items that were delivered “from the outside” such as bacteria entering the fuel tank and establishing a home, as well as the fuel itself decaying and creating substances (such as asphaltenes) that would not normally be present but now contaminate the fuel.
With so much material circulating, we thought it would be prudent to conduct a brief review.
“a “down and dirty” list of the signs and symptoms that should cause you to believe you have a gasoline contamination problem
The first two steps in fixing a fuel-related problem are recognizing the problem and correctly identifying the cause. Before you can implement a remedy that will work, you must first understand the problem and its cause.
Keep in mind that, while these gasoline contamination symptoms suggest that something is wrong with the fuel, several of them have more than one plausible root cause when it comes to determining what’s causing them.
Smoke is made up of unburned petroleum particles and can be black, white, or blue.
A perfectly working engine will totally burn fuel with no smoke as a consequence. If the engine is in good functioning order, the appearance of smoke indicates that something is now present in the gasoline that shouldn’t be. Something that isn’t entirely burning. It will take a bit more detective work to figure out what that is, but the most usual culprits are heavier petroleum compounds, such as sludge, asphaltenes or other fuel heavy ends, or even lubricant oil. None of them will burn as cleanly as new gasoline.
Fuel that is off-color or “smelly” fresh gasoline or diesel should be clear and bright, with a distinct “solvent” odor.
There could be entrained water in the fuel if it starts to look foggy.
If it appears darkish, it is most likely unstable and in the process of releasing asphaltenes and heavy ends.
Check for bacteria if it smells strange, especially if you know there’s a lot of water in the tank.
Engine Runs Rough or Shuts Down – This indicates that there is something in the fuel that isn’t burning properly.
Because we’re talking about pollutants, an issue like diesel fuel with an insufficient cetane rating isn’t an option. However, when it comes to impurities, you should think about water (particularly in a gas or marine engine) or heavy end compounds. You should also inspect your filter since particles may have reduced fuel flow through the filter to the point where the engine is unable to function correctly.
Make sure the gasoline you’re using is up to spec each time your engines or equipment diverge noticeably in how they work.
What takes water out of diesel fuel?
It’s critical to respond quickly if you discover water in your diesel fuel tank. Water and fuel aren’t buddies, and they shouldn’t mix because horrible things can happen. What’s the best way to remove water out of a diesel fuel tank? This article has taken the time to answer this question!
There are several methods for removing water from a diesel fuel tank. These two strategies, however, are the most effective:
- The first method is to use a hand pump to siphon away the water-contaminated fuel using a siphon kit. Ensure that the line is long enough to reach the tank’s bottom.
- To help dilute the water fuel mixture, you can add a fuel additive with a methanol base. This procedure should only be utilized if the diesel fuel tank contains a small amount of water.
Remove the fuel filter while using either approach to assist drain any surplus tainted diesel fuel.
For a variety of causes, water can enter a diesel fuel tank. Water must be evacuated from the diesel fuel tank in some fashion, regardless of how it got in there. We’ll look at how to get water out of your diesel fuel tank in more detail in this article. We’ll also talk about the dangers of water getting into fuel tanks, so keep reading!
What does contaminated diesel fuel look like?
Biomass (the buildup of microbial cells) is formed when diesel fuel is contaminated, and it might appear as a thick, slimy substance. Even when you can’t see it, biomass can be present. Biomass can impede engine systems, causing the engine to perform inefficiently or possibly cease to function.
Does diesel fuel get old?
It’s an age-old question for diesel truck drivers and anyone else who drives a diesel-powered vehicle. ‘Does diesel fuel have a shelf life?’ In actuality, there is no such thing as an expiration date for diesel, but the longer you store it, the worse it performs.
In reality, keeping diesel without properly treating it can cause a slew of problems, not just for the fuel but also for any vehicle into which you chose to put it later. We’ll go over exactly what happens to untreated diesel fuel when it’s stored for a long period, as well as how you may avoid these bad consequences by simply treating the diesel before it’s stored.
Diesel fuel’s performance deteriorates when it sits in storage for extended periods of time. When the fuel reaches the final stages of the process, we call it “diesel fuel gone bad.” It may be too late to save your stored diesel fuel if you notice these things occurring to it. However, there are a few things you can do to extend its life, which we’ll go into later.
- As a result of being exposed to environmental variables, chain reactions occur: Light, water, and heat are the most prevalent environmental variables that have a negative impact on diesel fuel. If the diesel fuel is stored in a location where any of these things might affect it, the molecules in the fuel will produce chain reactions that will cause the fuel to slowly but steadily change from an oil to a varnish.
- The gasoline darkens, and the gums get swollen: As a result of the chain reactions that occur between environmental variables and the molecules of diesel fuel, the fuel thickens and darkens, turning into more of a gum or sludge.
This process alters the molecular structure of diesel fuel, and because most modern diesel fuels do not contain the same amount of sulfur as older diesel fuels, bacteria begin to thrive in the fuel, forming biomass. This can result in acids that completely degrade the fuel over time.
- The sludgy fuel won’t burn properly, resulting in black smoke: This thicker, darker dieselfuel won’t run as smoothly as a diesel fuel that hasn’t been influenced by external factors, resulting in black smoke and engine sputtering, which is never good for your car.
- Internal vehicle damage due to lubricity: Because this diesel fuel no longer has the lubricity it once did, the acidic nature and thickness of the fuel will begin to negatively affect the fuel pump, diesel injectors, and engine, and you may not be able to start your engine if the problem is severe enough.
You may be wondering if there is any solution that will allow you to keep diesel fuel without it becoming a sludgy mess now that you know what it means when you hear it has gone bad.
The solution is significantly more straightforward than you might have assumed. You can ensure that your stored diesel fuel is safe at all times by using a diesel fuel stabilizer. Although there are numerous brands and formulations to pick from, we recommend Opti-Lube, which is the world’s #1 rated additive that more than doubles the shelf life of diesel fuel.
Despite the fact that diesel fuel does not have a specific expiration date, the performance of stored fuel might be harmed over time if improper storage and additives are not used. If you intend on storing fuel or not driving your truck over the winter, it’s important to use a reliable additive like Opti-Lube and take precautions before it’s too late.
We at Gem State Diesel understand the damage that gummed-up diesel fuel can cause to a vehicle, which is why we’ve decided to offer this knowledge and show you how we maintain our fuel working at its best no matter what. After all, it’s always better to be cautious than sorry, especially when dealing with something as precious and impressive as a diesel engine.
What should diesel look like?
It’s a big tragedy when expensive fuel in a storage tank “degrades” and begins to lose its quality.
This type of fuel loss costs businesses and users millions of dollars every year, whether it’s due to oxidation, hydrolysis, or a reaction to acidic byproducts of microbial contamination.
When the gasoline color changes, it’s the most obvious clue that anything is amiss. Diesel fuel that hasn’t been colored is a lovely amber-green tint. The same gasoline that has begun to deteriorate will darken. This is due to the fact that the heavier components of the fuel blend are no longer dissolved in the gasoline and are floating freely in it. They have a darker tint, which makes the fuel’s overall color darker. Have you ever come across tar and asphalt? Those are darker samples of heavier petroleum molecules.
In addition to a change in fuel color, changes in the normal amount of water accumulated in the storage tank, a higher than normal sediment content in drawn fuel samples, and any slimy or abnormal coatings on the surface and tank walls can all indicate that fuel in a storage tank is losing its storage quality.
The latter could indicate the presence of microbes.
Many times, users of stored fuel are unaware of a problem until they observe changes in the performance or behavior of the engines that are consuming the contaminated fuel. Filters that are excessively clogged, black smoke, and lower-than-normal RPMs at full throttle are all symptoms that the fuel’s combustion quality isn’t up to par.
Because it’s nearly difficult to reverse bad fuel in this method, this is a trick question. Some “fuel treatments” claim to be able to accomplish this. If you spot one of these, we recommend heading in the opposite direction as soon as possible. The most important component here is prevention: treating the fuel to protect it is significantly less expensive than fixing the difficulties created by bad fuel left to its own devices in the storage tank.
Can 10 year old diesel be used?
It’s unlikely to take as long as you imagine. After you put fuel in a container, it only takes a few months for the quality to deteriorate much less if the fuel is tainted in any way.
Petrol has a six-month shelf life when stored in a sealed container at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and just three months when stored at 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The more heat it is subjected to, the faster it will blow up.
You’ll be able to maintain the container for even shorter time if it’s not well sealed, and there’ll be an elevated fire risk owing to combustible vapours escaping.
Diesel, on the other hand, can be utilized for six to twelve months before becoming ‘gummy,’ which can clog filters and cause engine problems if used.
How can you tell if diesel is bad?
Depending on whether it’s bio-diesel or distillate ULSD diesel, you can only expect diesel fuel to be used for 6 to 12 months. If you’re not sure, here are some signs to look out for.
How long can diesel fuel sit in a tank?
In temperatures of 85 degrees, diesel fuel can last for 6 to 12 months. The fuel will then start to react with the oxygen in the tank. Diesel may become sticky as a result of this interaction. If diesel turns sticky, it can block fuel filters, causing engine problems. The sticky fuel will not burn properly, resulting in a film of soot and carbon on the engine’s inside. One possibility is to apply oxidation-resisting stability treatments.
Degradation of diesel fuel can also be caused by other sources. Fungus can grow in the presence of water in the fuel. Fungi can produce organic chemicals that break down diesel molecules. The gumming process can be accelerated by high temperatures. When metals like zinc and copper come into contact with diesel fuel, they can trigger a chemical reaction. Certain chemicals have been shown to hasten the aging process.