Diesel Fuel Quality
The designs of diesel engines striving to increase performance have made
a lot of advancements in engine fuel delivery to the combustion chamber.
The diesel engines of today are much quieter, smoother, and also more
powerful. The quality of diesel fuel on the other hand has not advanced
at the same rate as the improvements of engines until recently.
As soon as it is produced, diesel fuel begins to deteriorate. Less than
30 days of refining, all diesel fuel, regardless of the brand, goes
through a natural process called oxidation. This process forms varnishes
and gums in the fuel by causing the molecules of the fuel to lengthen and
start bonding together.
Now, these components will drop to the bottom of the fuel tank and form
diesel sludge. The fuel will begin to turn very dark in color, smell
bad, and cause the engine to smoke. The engine starts to smoke as some
of these clusters are small enough to pass through the engine filtration
and on to the combustion chamber.
As the clusters begin to increase in size, only a small amount of the
molecules will get burned, as the rest will go out the exhaust as
unburned fuel and smoke.
Its estimated that eight out of every ten diesel engine failures are
directly related to poor quality and contaminated fuel. The build up of
contamination in the fuel systems and storage tanks can clog filters,
thereby causing the engine to shut down, and damage to the engine to
The number one reason for bad fuel is due to the increasing popularity of
diesel power and the accompanying increased demand for more diesel fuel.
Long ago, diesel fuel remained in the refinery storage tanks long enough
to naturally separate and begin to settle, allowing the clean fuel to be
drawn apart. Then with the demand getting higher than ever, the fuel was
never stationary long enough to settle, and the suspended water and
solids were passed on to the person buying the fuel - you.
The changes in refinery techniques is also a problem. In order to get
more product, diesel fuel is being refined for more marginal portions of
the crude barrel. This results in a lower grade product that is thicker
and also contains a lot more contamination.
As time continues to pass and technology gets better and better, the
quality of diesel fuel is improving. The introduction of ultra low sulfur
diesel (ULSD) has made a big difference to the quality and acceptability
of diesel engines.