October 22, 2020

Dirty fuel tanks could be the cause of poor fuel quality says Minister


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dirtyfuel_imgGeorgina Wilcox

Kurt Tibbetts, Minister for Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure said in the legislative Assembly last week that dirty fuel tanks at the local petrol stations could be the cause of poor fuel quality.

The poor fuel quality complaint was made against the two fuel suppliers in Cayman, RUBIS and Esso by a number of customers who found their cars stalling after they had just re-fueled them and some even had sustained damage.

This resulted in an investigation by Chief Petroleum Inspector Duke Munroe who has not made his office’s report public although both RUBIS and Esso said they had been notified their fuel had been given a clean bill of health.

Minister Tibbetts, however, said he had been made aware of some of the results from the Inspector and put the blame for the dirty fuel firmly in the lap of the local stations.

He said, “In the tests, the level of dirt and everything that’s in there simply tells us that, in most instances, the tanks are not being maintained properly. They must realise that when it comes out of the pump and the consumer says that RUBIS or Esso or whoever sells bad gas that it doesn’t mean that bad gas has arrived in the country.

“It is simply that the tanks that hold the gas cause the gasoline or the diesel to be contaminated by the time it reaches the consumer.”gaspump

He also said government was looking at amending the legislation “to ensure that these entities do what should be done by way of having regular inspections and having all of their equipment kept in a manner that doesn’t cause for all of these things to happen.”

See this abridged article by Marco Antonello from Camper Trailer Australia

Dirty fuel problems

Be aware what a bad batch of fuel can do to your car.

Contaminated fuel can have bad consequences for your tow vehicle.

DO YOU EVER think about the fuel you are putting in your tank? Beyond worrying about how much it costs and which grade of fuel to buy, probably not. But you should. A bad batch of fuel can wreak havoc on both diesel and petrol engines. So let’s have a closer look the how, where and why of fuel contamination.

Fuel quality in Australia is generally not as good as the rest of the world and the main contaminants are water, algae and sediment from the bottom of the tanks at the service station.

Contamination is a consequence of poor management and unfortunately there isn’t much we can do to prevent us from filling up our next tank with contaminated fuel. In every litre of fuel there is always a nominal amount of water; the Australian fuel standard determination is 0.05% by volume. This amount of water is said not to impact fuel system operation and makes its way into the fuel via condensation in the tank and by accidental ingress when tanks are filled.

Air and water borne spores can also contaminate fuel. Different types of spores require different conditions to germinate and they will only germinate in the right conditions. The spores settle on the surface of the fuel where they remain dormant. Movement of the tank washes condensation off the sides of the tank, mixing spores into the fuel in the process. Dissolved oxygen in the water acts as a trigger for germination and heat accelerates the process. In warmer climates such as the outback, more rapid spore growth is experienced because of the higher temperature.

Another cause of contaminated fuel is sediment on the bottom of fuel tanks. Suction from underground storage tanks to the dispenser is via a tube approximately 50mm from the bottom of the tank. This 50mm allows condensation, ground water ingress and flash rust to accumulate. In the meantime tankers filling the tank at a rate of 1000L/minute via a 100mm drop tube will be agitating and emulsifying tank bottom debris. So, when the tank is filled by the petrol tanker, contaminants mix with the fuel being pumped into your tank.

Diesel engines are especially susceptible the contaminated fuel because the pumps and injectors have only very fine tolerances. Petrol engines can also be affected by dirty fuel, which can cause loss of power and detonation (also known as pinging), and can clog up injectors. Along with contamination can come some very expensive repair bills.

If you are a victim of contaminated fuel, you will experience rough running, poor performance and increased fuel consumption. Unfortunately, if these symptoms start to show the damage might have already been done. If you are driving a petrol or early diesel (pre-2000), hopefully all you will need to do is flush the fuel system – which should include the diesel pump being drained, fuel filter replaced and a new tank of clean fuel. Newer common rail diesel engines aren’t as lucky. If spores grow into algae the fine tolerances in both the pump and injectors mean these parts of the fuel system will clog and cause up to $15,000 in repairs that aren’t covered by a new car warranty.

Being careful where we buy our fuel is another great way of preventing contamination; this can be easy when you’re filling up at the same service station every week, but this is often impossible when on the road.

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