Four Considerations for Biodiesel Fuel Storage

by Visitor Power-Pop on ‎07-10-2014 09:46 AM

Amy Poparad Caterpillar Blog.jpg



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.


For more information on biodiesel fuel storage and other Caterpillar Product Support services, visit us online.


We want to hear from you. Tell us about how fuel storage challenges have affected you.


  • How have you overcome challenges presented by biodiesel fuel storage?
  • Where do you look for national, state and local fuel storage regulations?
  • What would you add to this list of biodiesel fuel storage considerations?

by Super Contributor
on ‎07-10-2014 07:20 PM

These folks were helpful long before the engine manufacturers stepped up on this subject,

by Ivo Roberts jr
on ‎08-01-2014 02:02 PM

Very good information since most people only think of their fuel as vehicle based which generally freshened up each time they go to the pump. Sometimes we forget about the old standby in the shed out of site out of mind.

by Contributor wlj1943
on ‎08-01-2014 03:01 PM

Interesting subject. I know ANSI did some standardization activities about 4 years ago; was the subject of storage life addressed during this effort?  What about microbal activity; this can be an issue for many existing petroleum based distillates. Perhaps the Military techniques used  for the JP series of Aircraft  distallate fuels could give some guidance?  Can ANSI or the Biodiesel equavalent of the API address and research this?


by marty _borruso
on ‎08-04-2014 09:37 AM

I built a biodiesel plant (60 million gallons per year) several years ago and I also ran a generator on 100% biodiesel for over 4 years to power the plant. There were no downsides or problems presented by the use, in fact the mechanics that did a top end commented on how clean everthing was. Biodiesel is more luberous than petroeum diesel, an addition of 2% biodiesel replaces the lubricity lost from removing sulfur in ultra low sulfur diesel. But the fact remains that it is derived from a food product and it is not toxic so that there are organisms that will live and consume it. It is also very negativly affected by water, and most storage tanks do have water bottoms. So aside from stability aditives you also need to use biosides as well. 

Biodiesel should be used within a year of storage or tested at that threshold for oxidation and contamination 

by Jorge Alberto Rocha Serrato
on ‎09-18-2014 11:48 AM

necesito un manual para un generador caterpillar de 11000 watts

by David Hurtado
on ‎10-14-2014 10:14 AM
When fuel storage is expected to exceed six months (as in the case of most standby power systems), I recommend a fuel maintenance program consisting of 4 main steps: educate, stabilize, filter and test. More details here:
by New member mbalogistics
on ‎01-23-2017 07:35 AM - last edited on ‎12-31-2018 11:21 AM by Administrator

biodiesel fuel storge is a nice concept i really enjoyed it.  Fuel needs to pass through engine components without clogging pathways to work effectively. 

by New member leoraacademy
on ‎12-24-2018 03:22 AM - last edited on ‎12-31-2018 11:21 AM by Administrator

Nice article!!!!

Help us grow the Caterpillar Community: Invite a Friend

Meet Our Bloggers