What Happens To Diesel Fuel When It Gets Cold?

When temperatures drop, the bonds between diesel fuel molecules become more rigid, causing them to connect more tightly. The procedure is repeated until thin sheets of diesel are linked together, resulting in a waxy material in the fuel. A little cloudy appearance within the fluid may be the first sign. **

Enough of these wax pieces accumulate in fuel filters over time, clogging them and preventing fuel flow. If the process continues, the fuel may entirely gel, forming a waxy goo that is semi-solid. The fuel supply to the engine has been cut off, and the vehicle is unable to run!

In frigid conditions, the term “gelled” is used to describe unusable equipment. The wax creation process is aided by frozen water molecules in diesel fuel, which provide a template for the wax to develop on. Biodiesel blends tend to hold more water in suspension than other fuels, exacerbating the problem.

Do you need to treat diesel fuel in winter?

Most fleet owners are aware of the need of keeping their diesel fuel preserved during the winter. Cold temperatures cause wax to separate from diesel fuel, which coagulates and clogs diesel tank and engine filters, effectively shutting down operations.

Diesel consumers in some places have reported that their fuel is gelling at greater temperatures than usual this year. Even additive-treated fuel and kerosene aren’t as safe as they used to be. Over the past week, the extreme cold that has been observed across the country has compounded these issues. The recent cold spell wreaked havoc on gasoline operations, and the perpetrator may not be who you think.

Before I go into detail about what’s going on with diesel fuel this year, it’s important to understand why it gels and how kerosene and additives influence the process.

Natural waxes called paraffin wax are found in ultra-low sulfur diesel #2 (regular diesel fuel). Tiny wax molecules, as well as carbon molecules and other things, float in the fuel. Wax isn’t always a bad thing; when waxy molecules are small enough, they can flow through a gasoline filter with ease.

The advantages of paraffin waxes are numerous. Because paraffin waxes are flammable, they give power to the engine when burned. Because paraffin waxes make up a portion of the energy content in fuel, most candles are comprised of it. Kerosene (also known as diesel #1) on the other hand, contains significantly less paraffin wax and so has a lower energy content. As a result, when using kerosene blends, you may notice a reduction in fuel efficiency and power.

When waxy paraffins clump together and clog filters, it’s a concern. The Cloud Point is the point at which waxes gather together in diesel fuel, causing it to become hazy. The more paraffins fall out of the fuel and gel together as the temperature gets colder. Larger paraffin chunks clog filters, making it impossible for fuel to flow through. The CFPP – Cold Filter Plug Point – is the point at which your filter plugs and operations stop. For fleet operators, the CFPP is the most crucial indicator since it represents the point at which operations are disrupted.

The Cloud Point and the CFPP are both affected by geographic location and fuel quality. The 18° Rule states that the CFPP should be 18° below the Cloud Point when appropriately treated with winter cold flow additives. Filters will be blocked at -8° F if your fuel has been treated with additive and becomes murky at 10° F. Without a cold flow addition, the CFPP could range from -8 to +9 degrees Fahrenheit; cold flow additives protect you up to 18 degrees below the cloud point of your fuel. Kerosene, on the other hand, reduces the Cloud Point by about 3° for every 10% kerosene blended in.

  • When temperatures drop, waxes in fuel bind together and become caught on fuel filters.
  • When temperatures are 18° below the Cloud Point, additives cause filters to clog.
  • At a rate of 3° per 10% blend, kerosene can reduce the Cloud Point, providing additional protection.

As previously stated, Cloud Points for diesel fuel are often less than 10° F. As a result, cold flow additives should preserve gasoline down to -8° F, while kerosene may offer extra protection. This year, however, new elements have profoundly altered the winter performance of ordinary diesel fuel.

Refinery supply lines have been adjusted as a result of low crude prices. Refineries are buying crude from a range of sources since prices are so low, resulting in very fluctuating feed supplies. Fuel quality is less predictable due to a variety of feedstocks. There are no useful performance requirements connected to winter operability in diesel fuel specifications, thus there’s no method to avoid bad fuel when it happens.

  • In certain areas, such as Missouri, Kansas, and Pennsylvania, cloud points have been greater. The cloud point temperature has been 5°-10° higher than optimal. When temperatures drop below zero, even a slight variation can make a big difference.
  • Even when Cloud Point is at appropriate levels, extremely waxy fuel causes fuel to gel. This is one of the main reasons for the recent spike in gelling events. This year’s chemical lab tests reveal excessive wax content in several places, necessitating much greater kerosene and additive treatment rates than usual.

Biofuel content, which can contribute to greater gelling temperatures, exacerbates these difficulties. Biofuels are made from a range of oils, such as soybeans and corn, as well as animal fat. At frigid temperatures, this can contribute to further filter clogging. In the United States, every gallon of diesel fuel contains up to 5% biofuel, with certain states using higher bio mixes.

Extremely fine gasoline filters are another factor that is unrelated to fuel quality. Mansfield recommends using a 10 micron gasoline filter instead of a 4 micron filter in the winter. Because gelled wax molecules melt long before they reach engine injectors, they have no negative impact on engine performance. Excessively tight fuel filters have been the source of several gelling events this year, putting operations at unnecessary danger. It’s a minor point, but it can have a big impact on gasoline flow.

Water in the fuel, rather than paraffin wax, is the source of several gelling events. Frozen water, like wax, can clog gasoline filters, causing engines to shut down. Because water freezes at a much higher temperature than fuel, if your filters are clogging at 20°-30° F, you may have an ice problem.

Checking for ice in your filter is a relatively straightforward procedure. Simply remove your gasoline filter and look for a thick waxy material. If you find this, your fuel is gelling. To clean your tank, you’ll need an emergency reliquefier or kerosene and winter additives. If you notice an icy accumulation on the filter, gently reheat it to get fuel flowing again.

This winter has already proven to be harsher than usual, so fleet managers should brace themselves for much colder weather in the weeks and months ahead. Despite the difficulties, fleet managers can take efforts to reduce the danger of gasoline gelling.

  • Cloud Point and CFPP fuel tanks are being tested. This year, fuel testing is much more crucial than in previous years. Mansfield advises pre-season and post-season fuel tests, as well as monthly Cloud Point and CFPP checks over the winter. Fleet managers can prevent poor gasoline quality by doing proper fuel testing and analysis.
  • Increase the rate of winter fuel treatment. Gelling occurrences have been prevented and remedied by using more winter additive and higher kerosene. Mansfield has started using the same treatments we use in Minnesota in states as far south as Missouri and Kansas.
  • Keep reliquefiers and cold flow additive on hand in case of an emergency. While higher winter treatment rates should avoid gelling, fuel can sometimes linger for long periods of time, or your cars may need to fuel off-site. With this year’s unpredictable weather, having extra winter additive and emergency reliquefiers on hand, such as Arsenal FIRST+AID, can help keep your fleet running through the bitter cold.

While this year’s gasoline quality concerns provide new hurdles for fleet managers, effective winter fuel protocols can help prevent gelling. Fleets can successfully sustain operational performance throughout the winter using these technologies.

At what temp does diesel freeze?

What is the temperature at which diesel fuel gels? That’s a tough question to answer because your diesel-powered vehicle won’t drive anywhere in the cold if you don’t prepare properly. Fortunately, the problem can be readily avoided by applying a gasoline additive, which can help stop gelling from happening in the first place. While it’s important to prepare your vehicle before the cold weather arrives, acting quickly can help you avoid a breakdown.

At What Temperature Does Diesel Fuel Gel?

When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the paraffin in diesel fuel begins to harden, clouding the fuel tank. This modification will not prevent you from driving, but it will serve as a reminder of how colder weather affects gasoline use.

Gelling happens when the temperature falls between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit, blocking the gasoline tank and fuel lines. You may need to have your vehicle towed to a garage at this stage so that your mechanic may repair any damaged fuel lines and thaw the fuel tank.

How Do You Prevent Diesel Fuel From Gelling?

If you utilize a fuel additive, you can drive a diesel car in subzero temperatures. A fuel additive designed for diesel engines decreases the fuel pour point (the temperature at which it freezes) by as much as 40 degrees. It also inhibits gelling by dispersing water.

The crystals that form in diesel fuel during cold weather are altered by a diesel fuel additive. The additive lowers the size of the crystals in diesel fuel, preventing it from waxing or gelling. It alters the fuel’s chemical characteristics, allowing it to flow at temperatures considerably below zero degrees.

If the diesel has already gelled, an additive can help. To begin, empty the tank and disconnect the fuel line. Typically, this entails pouring the additive into the tank and waiting 20 minutes for it to break down the gel before starting the vehicle, but check any directions carefully to ensure you’re following the appropriate steps. Allowing your vehicle to idle for a few minutes will allow the fuel lines to clean.

Cold Weather Preparation

There are a few more things you can do to prepare your vehicle for cold weather besides utilizing a diesel fuel additive. First, make sure your battery is in good working order. When the weather turns cold after a hot summer, the battery is more vulnerable to failure. Replace your battery if the reading is less than 12.45 volts on a multimeter. You don’t want to have to deal with battery troubles on top of fuel issues.

Second, if temperatures are really low, an addition may not be sufficient. Keep in mind that an additive can reduce the pour point by up to 40 degrees. It can prevent blockage in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. We all know that colder temperatures are feasible, and that the addition may become useless as a result. Even if the temperature does not drop that low, a block heater may be required, especially if you park outside. Make it a habit to turn on the block heater when the temperature drops below freezing.

You may avoid being stranded on even the coldest days if you take excellent care of your diesel vehicle and its gasoline.

NAPA Online has a comprehensive list of fuel additives, or visit one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare facilities for routine maintenance and repairs. Consult a trained specialist at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS shop for more information about diesel fuel.

How do you keep diesel fuel from freezing?

Using an anti-gel fuel supplement is one approach to keep diesel fuel from crystallizing (or gelling). Anti-gels for diesel fuel are simply added to the gasoline (just drop it in the fuel tank). Diesel fuel’s freezing point is lowered by anti-gels, making it less prone to freeze in cold temperatures. (**IMPORTANT: diesel fuel conditioner, diesel fuel supplement/additive, and anti-gel are not the same thing. A diesel fuel conditioner or a supplement such as CleanBoost Maxx WILL NOT keep diesel fuel from freezing).

Do diesels run better in cold weather?

In cold weather, diesel engines are more difficult to start because they rely on high temperatures caused by compression to ignite the injected fuel. In fact, starting a diesel engine at 0°F (-17°C) is five times more difficult than starting one at 80°F (26°C).

How long should you let a diesel warm up in cold weather?

If the temperature is below zero degrees Fahrenheit, you should allow your engine to warm up for up to seven minutes. Warm-up time should be three to five minutes if the temperature is between zero and fifty degrees. Warming up to above fifty degrees takes only one or two minutes.

Does wind chill affect diesel fuel?

Fall may be a hectic time for all of us, and before we know it, the ground will be frozen and snow will be falling. Will my truck or tractor start is the last thing on most people’s minds. Those of you who have experienced problems with winter diesel don’t want to go through it again. Fortunately, you have numerous options for keeping your equipment operational.

The first point to keep in mind is that moisture is your adversary.

Whatever additives are in your fuel, water will plug your filter as soon as the temperature drops below 32 degrees.

So, don’t forget to drain the water out of your gasoline filters.

Now, let’s talk about the fuel itself. At 14 degrees above zero, diesel will gel by itself. Blending with #1 diesel, which has a cloud point of -35 degrees, or adding a cold flow improver are two choices. The aim of an additive is to allow the fuel to flow through the system at much lower temperatures, not to reduce the cloud point.

For many folks, blending the fuel with #1 diesel and adding a cold flow improver is the best option.

For example, a 50/50 blend of fieldmaster and #1 diesel with a cold flow improver will provide protection down to -12 degrees.

Another myth is that the cloud point of diesel is affected by wind chill.

Fortunately, this is not the case.

Your diesel will only gel if the air temperature remains constant.

Can diesel pumps freeze?

The fuel does not “freeze,” but it does begin to wax up. It now contains addatives, which are introduced in your fuel around October time and prevent waxing. There’s no need for anything else.

What happens if I run out of DEF?

Vehicle makers must implement procedures to ensure that vehicles cannot run without Diesel Exhaust Fluid, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (DEF). The driver of a vehicle receives a succession of alerts on their dashboard displays before the DEF tank runs out (much the same way as if they were running low on diesel). In general, an amber warning bulb will illuminate when the DEF tank level drops below 10%, flashing at 5%, and solid amber warning light will illuminate when the DEF tank level dips below 2.5 percent.

The engine’s power is lowered, a solid red warning is displayed, and the vehicle’s speed is limited to 5 mph until the DEF tank is refilled if the truck is allowed to run out of DEF.