Fuel Tank Corrosion
Over recent years it has been recognised that fuel tank corrosion is increasing within the industry. The corrosion is being seen throughout the entire tank including the ullage areas of the tank. In the worst-case scenario, contaminated fuel which has been supplied to customers can cause engine failures and brand damage; or where being used in a mission-critical backup generator, it can cause a failure of the backup power which can cost over $100,000 p/h in SLA breaches.
Whereas in the best case, you can expect to see slow pump rates and increased filter replacements.
The issue with tank corrosion is not that it affects the cleanliness and quality of the fuel being stored, supplied and used, but that the corrosion can lead to much larger environmental impacts if the tank begins to leak the fuel into the environment. The cost of this can largely outweigh any customer issues that have been experienced with the hefty fines that can occur by the relevant authorities, as well as replacement costs of the tank and associated equipment.
What Causes Fuel Tank Corrosion?
One of the most common ways this occurs is due to Microbial Growth (Diesel Bug). The microbial growth creates an acidic environment within the tank and this causes corrosion to start.
The Microbial Growth and the presence of water within the tank is a catalyst for issues not only with the fuel quality of the product being stored, but also the tank integrity its self.
Studies have shown that as little as 6mm of water in the tank bottom dramatically increases the chance of your diesel falling victim to microbial growth. Once this happens the chance of corrosion occurring in your fuel tank also dramatically increases.
As we have previously touched on in past blogs, the changes of diesel fuel to ultralow sulfur fuel has had some changes in the way our diesel behaves in storage. Sulfur in past diesel has naturally kept microbial growth in check. Since the move to ultra-low sulfur diesel, Microbial Growth issues have been increasing.
This, on top of technology improvements with diesel moving from mechanical injection to common rail or direct injection fuel systems, has created an issue that has the potential for huge financial impacts from a situation that is preventable if the proper programs are implemented.
The fix to corrosion issues is not a simple fix.
- Initial Treatment
- A chemical treatment is added to the tank to treat the initial problem
- All water (Free water & suspended) is removed
- Fuel Polishing to remove the free rust and corrosive particles from the fuel
- Monthly Sampling
- Dead Bottom Samples to identify if any water is present within the tank and also monitor cleanliness levels and key parameters of the fuel
- Annual Treatment
For any questions relating to this please don’t hesitate to speak with our friendly staff who can organise an inspection of your tank to determine the best maintenance plan for your business.