This happens more than just in the spring time. You may have an above ground fuel tank, or the saddle tanks on your truck may sit in the sun all day long. On your saddle tanks you have warm fuel running back through them, then what happens? At night it gets cool and causes a little bit of a rain forest in your fuel tank.
The approach of spring seems to bring this problem of issues with water/moisture in fuel storage tanks the most. If your winter fuel supplier used an alcohol-based winter additive (we hope they didn't) or a demulsifier to remove water from your diesel fuel the question you have to answer is, "Where did the water go?"
The answer is, all of that water is now sitting on the bottom of your tank. So what are you going to do about it?
You have a couple of ways to take care of it. It is smart just to have good housekeeping anytime you are talking about fleet fuel or gas. A little extra effort put in on the front end saves you a lot of time and expense on the back end.
Option 1: Pump off the water. The best option. How much is the cost to pump off the water and dispose of it? If you don't have enough water to pump off what are you going to do?
Option 2: Forget about it. This could be very costly in the long run. ULSD has no natural biocide and eventually you will have an algae/fungus/mold outbreak that will stop your equipment or stop your customers, giving you a reputation for having "bad" fuel. The long-term effects are tank corrosion and then tank replacement.
Option 3: Treat your tanks with a "drying" agent. This is economical and can rid storage tanks of excessive water buildup with multiple treatments. What type of drying agent to use? The use of an emulsifying agent will allow the water to move into suspension in the fuel and pass through the combustion process. My fuel additive friend Dusty Wright is always talking about this.
ULSD has more moisture than diesel fuels of old. Tank maintenance is now more important than ever. And we're not talking just about bulk storage. Equipment that sits for long periods can have the same issues of tank corrosion and "bugs."
The proactive approach of using a year-round fuel additive program can consist of two very effective programs:
Program 1: Early Spring-treat all tanks with a drying agent to remove moisture accumulation from the winter season. Follow up this treatment in late spring with a maintenance dose of an algaecide to prevent algae/mold/fungus growth as temps begin to rise. Follow up an additional drying agent treatment in late summer/early fall to remove excess water prior to cold weather to help fuel performance as temperature drop.
Program 2: Begin treating/using a premium package from your fuel supplier or purchase one yourself and treat your fuel year round. Some premium diesel packages have been shown to reduce emissions by as much as 45 percent, provide lubricity to critical fuel components for longer life, lower soot contamination in oil, and provide fuel economy increases all while helping to manage moisture in your tanks from bulk storage to individual units.
Like with most programs, you want to talk to someone who understands what you are trying to accomplish. Be careful; not all fuel additives are the same. If you deal with a professional fuel additive person or fuel consultant, you should get what you are looking for at a good price.
Glen Sokolis is president of Sokolis Group, a nationwide fuel management and fuel consulting company, www.FuelManagementSokolisGroup.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (267) 482-6160.
Previous installments of "Friday Fuel:"
* "Successful Fuel Management Program Equals Discipline", 9-11-09
* "Who's Watching Your Fuel Program," 9-18-09
* "Fleet Fuel Margins: Are You Paying Too Much?" 9-25-09
* "How Do You Audit Your Fleet Fuel Invoices?" 10-2-09
* "Fleet Fuel Price Negotiating: Details, Details", 10-9-09
* "Mobile On-Site Fueling", 10-16-09
* "The Bees Are Still Buzzing: Handling Fuel on a Daily Basis", 10-23-09
* "Fleet Fuel Card Shopping", 10-30-09
* "Is Your Fuel Management Ready for Winter?", 11-6-09
* "Don't Let the Weather Freeze Your Deliveries", 11-13-09
* "Fuel Management or Fuel Inventory? That is the Question", 11-20-09
* "Put Your Fleet Fueling Policy in Place For 2010, Part I", 12-4-09
* "Put Your Fleet Fueling Policy in Place For 2010, Part II", 12-11-09
* "Be Safe, Not Sorry With Fuel Management During the Holidays", 12-18-09
* "Looking Back: 2009 Fuel Management in Review", 12-23-2009
* "Oil's Ups and Downs", 1-8-2010
* "Why Oil Does What It Does When It Comes to Prices", 1-15-2010
* "Controlling Fuel Efficiency When Fuel Prices Are Unpredictable", 1-22-2010
* "The Motivation Behind Mobile Fleet Fueling", 1-29-2010
* "Fleet Fuel Prices: What are They Now?", 2-5-2010
* "Fuel Management Lost at Sea," 3-5-10