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Sludge within a storage tank is a top concern for many facilities. The presence of free water provides the medium for microbiological growth. A fuel vendor may attempt to sell the highest fuel quality possible. However, due to a variety of circumstances, fuel may have oxidized, and/or contain water. It may have been contaminated before it was delivered to the storage tank or to the vendor.


The journey fuel has to travel from the refinery to the end user destination is open to opportunities for the introduction and promotion of contamination. It is pumped through pipelines, barged, trucked, and stored intermittently in tank farms throughout this journey. Daily changes in temperature and exposure to the atmosphere will cause condensation and water build up in storage systems. None of this will help improve fuel quality.


There are three basic areas of concern in fuel storage:


  1. Water

  2. Non-organic debris (dirt, rust, etc.)

  3. Organic debris (fuel breakdown products and waste products of fuel deterioration and re-polymerization)


More than 90% of the debris on filter elements and the sludge in a storage tanks is organic material, fuel and oil breakdown residue. In most cases, this debris is acidic and not good for engines. It causes corrosion in storage tanks and can causes a range of engine problems including: 


  • fuel injector problems

  • clogged filters

  • engine shut-down

  • loss of power

  • poor fuel economy

  • increased emissions

  • loss of reliability


It's common to think that fuel filters will keep these issues from occuring, but filtration simply cannot. At best, filters remove debris suspended in the fuel before it reaches the engine. Stopping, preventing, or reversing the process of fuel breakdown is a completely different matter that can be addressed, and resolved.


In order to prevent diesel fuel sludge from appearing and to achieve optimal fuel quality, the contaminants in fuel must be filtered out, water must be separated from the fuel, and the fuel must be conditioned.  This process of filtration, separation, and conditioning is the foundation for achieving the quality of fuel necessary for ultimate reliability.


SoCal Compliance Services can implement a fuel monitoring and filtration program for your facility, call us today for more information.


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