A Deep Dive into Water Woes and Solutions for your Fuel System

Water, gasoline, and diesel – they’ve been around in the industry for as long as they have existed but what’s catching us off guard is the increasing amount of water in our fuels. So, let’s dive into what’s different and why it’s happening now. Stick with me; there’s quite a bit to unravel.

The industry has seen its fair share of changes in the fuels we use and the overall fuel systems. One significant shift isn’t just in the injection systems but also in the amount of pressure we’re using – we’re talking upwards of 50,000 PSI. Why?

Fuel Under Pressure

Well, in our relentless pursuit to meet EPA requirements, we’ve made tweaks to vaporize our fuels for a more efficient burn. Tighter tolerances and increased pressure come with the territory, but here’s the kicker: these pressures generate a lot of heat, forcing manufacturers to run a continuous fuel feed from the tank through the fuel rails and back into the tank.

       This comes with potential problems:

  • Now, that might sound okay, but the hiccup is that the hot fuel returning to the tank is causing issues like condensation in the fuel system.
  • Another snag is the warm fuel creating a perfect breeding ground for microbial growth during its return journey. The bugs love it!  Our older fuel systems with cold fuel in the tank used to put a damper on their growth, but those days are gone.
  • Another pressure-related issue is when fuel temperatures get extremely high, causing thermal breakdown and oxidation of the fuel. This rapid transformation of new fuel into old fuel results in inefficient burning, injector clogging, and carbon buildup.
  • To exacerbate the problem, when the fuel re-enters the system, it is very hot in the cylinder. The hotter the fuel, the worse the combustion. Cold fuel is more efficient as it is denser.
  • Diesel faces an extra hurdle – asphalting. The high heat creates a tar-like substance in the tank, leading to filter clogging and engine headaches. So, what’s the remedy for this and the oxidation we’re facing? It’s not rocket science.

All PFS diesel and gasoline additives have a fuel stabilizer (antioxidant) to combat asphalting and aging, preventing oxidation, whether it’s due to storage or hot fuel return.

Forget about products without a stabilizer or that recommend season use – you need one every time you turn that key.

Winning the War Against Water in your Fuel

Now, let’s talk about tackling the water issue. Most folks tend to think of water problems only during winter, but that’s a bit of a misconception. Water causes problems all year long, and the damage it brings throughout the year can be more severe than what winter freeze-ups might cause.

Water can be a real troublemaker, scoring or splitting your injectors as it doesn’t compress like fuel. It lacks lubricating ability, washing away existing lubrication.

Fall and spring are particularly challenging, with warm days and cold nights causing fuel tanks to sweat. Many diesel engines use fuel heaters for winter, which, though helpful in extreme cold, can create condensation and carbon buildup and microbes.

Leaving water in your tank leads to rust, corrosion, and a slimy buildup that causes filter plugging and premature fuel system failure. In diesel and gasoline, water becomes a friend to microbial growth, contaminating your system with sludge and slime. These microbes also secrete acid that destroys your entire fuel system.

Another reason we’re dealing with more water is that while we are starting with water free fuel from the refinery, however, during transportation through pipelines or from one tank to another, water accumulates for various reasons, depending on whether it’s diesel or gasoline.

Diesel is hygroscopic, pulling water from the atmosphere into the fuel. To add to the challenge, new fuels are hydrotreated, creating an even more hygroscopic fuel that adds more water to your system.

Gasoline doesn’t pull water from the atmosphere due to vapor pressure. However, the increase in water for a gasoline engine isn’t just due to condensation from high-temperature fuel return but also the addition of ethanol in almost all our gasolines today.

Ethanol loves water, and it takes only a fraction of water to separate ethanol from gasoline, creating potential engine failure, especially in small engines. This is called phase separation. By always keeping the water at bay, our PFS fuel treatments can help stop this separation.

What Can Be Done to Protect your Fuel System Year-Round from Water?

Many products claim to remove water from fuel, but here’s the catch – they may not remove the water from your tank. Alcohol-based solutions can combine with water, allowing it to settle at the bottom of the tank. While driving, agitation can put large drops of water and alcohol in suspension, causing damage to your fuel system. Water is a year-round problem.

PFS is here to help. Most additives displace water to the bottom of your tank, but PFS fuel treatments adhere to the water, break it up into tiny droplets, and simultaneously lubricate the fuel system. Its unique chemistry holds water in suspension and disperses it safely, removing water from the tank. These droplets won’t harm your fuel system, including injectors and pumps.

PFS removes water continuously, keeping your fuel free of this contaminant. By removing water from your fuel, you’re also removing the oxygen supply that microbes need to grow, reducing the chances of a microbial outbreak.

Always filling your tanks before they sit idle; even overnight can help with condenstation. For those with storage tanks, ensure you keep all openings tightly shut and drainage away from the fill locations if its underground. The vent should not be obstructed but should have a hood to keep out the rain.

Winter Fuel Water Concerns

By consistently keeping water out of your fuel, PFS fuel treatments can help prevent rust and corrosion and there’s no need to add more PFS during winter – regular use throughout the year reduces the threat of winter freeze-ups.

PFS products also contain a deicer that can prevent water from freezing if you have it, but it is not designed to thaw out frozen fuel lines; it’s designed to keep you from freezing in the first place.

Easy, Regular Fuel System Maintenance Takes Care of Water Issues

So, in essence, the answer lies outside our programmed thinking. Many products add to the misunderstanding by claiming to magically treat a problem months or years in the making with an occasional treatment.

Water problems, like lubricity or detergency, need daily attention, not just when you’re in a bind.

Notice the term ‘microbial growth’ used in several locations? This issue has been exacerbated by the new types of fuels on the market and hot fuel return. If you suspect you’re dealing with this problem, give us a call directly, and we can guide you on how to check your fuel for microbes and what to do if you find them. Keep an eye on our newsletters for an upcoming Microbial article.

To sum it up, remember: knowledge is power. By reaching the end of this article, I hope you feel empowered to take control of your fuel. Simply by addressing water issues, you can tackle or alleviate a range of problems. Take a bite out of winter freeze-ups, asphalting headaches, microbial contamination, rust, corrosion, and the risk of premature injection and fuel system failures. The lubrication of your fuel system is also improved. Moreover, our stabilizer, which can be used for storage, ensures that every time you hit the road, your fuel stays as fresh as if it just came out of the refinery.

Let’s get out there and Change The Way You Treat Your Fuel!™