The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supports a cleaner diesel-fuel program to significantly reduce sulfur and produce an immediate improvement in air quality. This program also encourages the use of biodiesel, a non-toxic, clean-burning fuel that can be blended with traditional diesel in any percentage for use in standard petrodiesel engines without the need for modifications. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, biodiesel provides numerous environmental and economic benefits including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased engine efficiency.
However, in standby applications where engine use can be unpredictable, fuel can sit for many months before it’s used to power a backup generator set. While biodiesel decreases environmental impact in a cost-effective manner, it also presents fuel storage challenges. Biodiesel fluidity and thickness change after being stored for an extended period, which can render the fuel source useless. Fuel needs to pass through engine components without clogging pathways to work effectively. Additionally, moisture, extreme temperatures and tank corrosion affect biodiesel thickness, so it’s important to consider these factors when creating a fuel storage plan.
Below is a list of questions to ask when building an effective biodiesel storage strategy that will help protect your fuel investment and ensure optimized performance for your generator set.
What percentage of my fuel is made up of biodiesel?
Some diesel specifications do not require a full biodiesel-content disclosure, which can cause poor performance, engine damage and increased fuel costs. Consider sending a fuel sample for lab testing to determine biodiesel percentages. Also, depending on your individual needs, some biodiesel blends may perform more efficiently for your application than others.
Where should my biofuel be stored?
To ensure fuel efficacy, biodiesel should be stored in a dark, dry place away from extreme heat and cold. Fuel containers also need special attention. Store biodiesel in air-tight tanks and remove all moisture beforehand to prevent bacteria and fuel contamination. Consider fuel additives to guard against chemical alteration caused by metal tank corrosion.
How long can I store my fuel?
The storage of distillate diesel fuel is recommended for a maximum of one year. This drops to six months for biodiesel blends because they have increased thermal and oxidative instability. Biodiesel lab tests can better determine fuel stability, and further analysis can be used to predict the optimum storage time.
Are there any national, state or local regulations for fuel storage?
Nationally recognized groups such as the National Fire Protection Agency or smaller groups such as the local fire department can provide more information on fuel storage requirements relevant to your situation. It’s important to note that codes and restrictions can differ for each fuel storage facility depending on size, location and fuel type.
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