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What is Fuel Polishing?

Emergency generators are perhaps the single best way to be prepared for any situation. Should something happen to cause you to lose power, your peace of mind comes from knowing you have a generator on standby. But what many people aren’t aware of is that there’s one big factor that can affect the performance of your generator and put it out of commission when you need it most. That one thing is contaminated fuel.

What causes fuel in a generator to become contaminated?

When diesel fuel just sits it will become contaminated within a short period of time. Once that happens it needs to be cleaned. Otherwise, the contaminants will impact the fuel system and could harm the generator engine and its ability to perform when you need it most. Fuel deterioration, filterability, and shelf life depend on a variety of factors; fuel breakdown is also dramatically accelerated by changes in temperature, water, and exposure to heat and pressure from the engine’s injection system.

So, how long can fuel sit before it becomes contaminated?

Fuel can lie stagnant for between 30-60 days before becoming contaminated, but fuel shelf life depends on a series of factors such as transportation and storage, natural oxidation and breakdown, the source of the crude oil, use of production additives and the addition of biofuel. Fuel breakdown is also accelerated by hot fuel that the engines return to the day tanks. Hot return fuel and condensation are big contributors to bad fuel in emergency generator tanks. As time goes on and changes occur, the naturally accumulating particulates of sludge, algae, and other solids increase in size and mass, filling the filtration equipment, tanks, and other fuel system components. This sludge or algae is actually the most common contaminant causing clogged filters, excessive exhaust smoke, and damaged fuel injectors.

So what can be done to avoid contamination?

The short answer… install fuel polishing systems with your standby generators and fuel storage tanks. These systems can be added to generators and their fuel tanks and use multi-stage filtration that enables proper sludge and water removal. Fuel additives that work in conjunction with the filters and separators are used to ensure the fuel is particulate-free. As a result, fuel tanks are clean, combustion is improved, carbon deposits are eliminated, and there is also a reduction in harmful emissions. Lower fuel consumption is another advantage of the filtration. Not only does having a fuel polishing system keep your generator ready to go at any moment, but it can also lower your carbon footprint by lowering emissions due to running contaminated or dirty fuel. Fuel polishing also aids in lowering the future repair costs you may run into by ensuring that you are only running the cleanest fuel through your system which lowers the wear and tear on your system. As experts in power generation, Total Energy Solutions can provide you with fuel polishing systems for your diesel generator system as well as a comprehensive generator maintenance program to make sure that your fuel is stored and maintained properly to ensure your generator system can be relied on and ready to go at any moment.