April showers bring May flowers, but you might already have water in your fuel tank! 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 time 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?"
Well, all of that water is now sitting on the bottom of your tank. So what are you going to do about it? You need to get that water out of your fleet fuel.
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; but if you don't have enough water to pump off, what are you going to do? What is the cost to pump off the water and dispose of it?
Option 2: Forget about it. This could be very costly in the long run. ULSD has no natural biocide and eventually you'll 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 option 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.
ULSD has more moisture than diesel fuels of old. Tank maintenance is now more important than ever. Tank maintenance is not just bulk storage either; 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 with an additional drying agent treatment in late summer/early fall to remove excess water prior to cold weather to help fuel performance as the temperature drops.
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%, 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'll want to talk to someone who understands what you're trying to accomplish. Be careful as not all fuel additives are the same; you don't want to be buying something that is snake oil. If you deal with a professional fuel additive person or fuel consultant, you should get what you are looking for at a good price. Drive safe.