Water is difficult to avoid when it is all around you every day, but keeping it out of your diesel tank is an absolute must for any marine diesel operator. Diesel fuels mix very well together, especially in turbulent conditions at sea. However, it is extremely detrimental in a diesel engine, especially given today’s Ultra Low Sulfer Diesel fuels with reduced lubricity.

Diesel fuel is often the forgotten commodity with regards to diesel engines. It is typically purchased, stored, and used with little thought going into it until something eventually goes wrong. In the case of the Marine Industry, the fuel can sometimes be left unattended for many months during refit, maintenance periods or seasonal shutdowns; it is only when something goes wrong do many owners or operators understand how critical the fuel is to the reliable operation of the engine or fuel system.

It is a well-known fact that poorly maintained diesel fuel is directly responsible for greater than 80% of fuel system failures and even higher in new advanced High Pressure Common Rail fuel injection systems, which are now finding their way into the industry.

Marine Diesel engines operate in a highly demanding environment and in many cases under extreme conditions when at sea. Having an engine fail at sea resulting from contaminated fuel is not something any captain or crew wishes to have happen. As such the diesel fuel must be maintained in a pristine condition and as close to an “as refined” condition as possible to ensure Ultimate Reliability.

Diesel fuels by their very nature are unstable organic hydrocarbons which degrade over time depending on a multitude of factors. As a fuel breaks down over time, gums and insoluble contaminants are formed within the fuel stock. Additionally, modern diesel engines suffer from extreme levels of fuel system wear and component degradation when the water content in the fuel is above 200ppm or 0.02% (approximately 0.8 quarts per 1000 gallons). Most diesel engine OEM’s do, in fact, stipulate via their warranties that water content must not exceed this level. These factors, along with solid particulate, contribute to the majority of fuel system component wear and failures.

Diesel fuel that is not maintained correctly as close to “as refined” as possible can cause the following common problems:

  • Poor starting or failure to start
  • Low power from the engine
  • Poor or rough idle
  • Increased fuel consumption
  • Excessive Smoke
  • Hunting
  • Vibration
  • Increased emissions

Diesel fuel that is maintained in a condition as close to “as refined” as possible will out perform a diesel fuel that is under or poorly maintained. The solution then is simple; employ corrective measures that ensure fuel stability and cleanliness. The solutions include the use of AXI International fuel conditioning devices, filtration and separation control systems, breathers, and monitoring devices.