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  1. #1
    mrennie's Avatar
    mrennie is offline Cast Iron
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    Howdy:

    I just finished building a backup diesel genset for my house, and mentioned to a friend that it would be nice to have a decent supply of diesel fuel in case of a long power outage. He told me that the place he works at has two 45 gallon drums of #2 clear diesel that has been sitting outside for around 15 years, and they want to get rid of it before the drums start to leak.

    15 year old fuel would not be my first choice to run in my genset, but if this old stuff is still usable I would consider asking for it. I would expect to have to pump it through a strainer or filter of course.

    Anyone know if this fuel would still be any good? If not, how long can you store diesel before it goes bad?

    Thanks

    Michael

  2. #2
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    It should be ok but will likely need to be "polished" first. Polishing involves pumping the fuel thru special filters at high pressure and returning it to the tank and then back thru the filter system, back to the tank, and on and on until it's clean again. Diesel tends to have algae growth problems when it sits for over a year...but this is mostly confined to the bottom of the tank, but sometimes gets on the vertical walls as well.

    If you are near a marine area, there are usually professional fuel polish companies available for hire that deal with these issues on yachts all the time.

  3. #3
    mrennie's Avatar
    mrennie is offline Cast Iron
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    Thanks Don. How high is high? All I have kicking around is a 7 psi fuel pump.

  4. #4
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    Dunno...here's some good info on the subject

    www.trawlerworld.com/features_06.htm

    I've seen portable hydraulic and coolant filtration systems at machine tool auctions that seemed to be about the same idea.

  5. #5
    Mike W is offline Stainless
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    One place I worked at had several sites with diesel generators for backup. Once a year we sent a fuel sample to a lab. They sent back a report on how many gallons of some additive to dump in the tank. I forgot what it was but the diesel was probably over 20 years old in most cases. The lab never said the fuel was bad, replace it.

  6. #6
    dloc Guest

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    If I remember right, ASTM specs for diesel fuel stability is 1 year. The difference grades of diesel are for fractions with different boiling points. The specific chemical analysis within a grade is dependent upon the source of the crude oil being distilled. There is a considerable difference in BTU's per gallon from different refineries. There is also a difference in stability between refineries but the biggest difference lies in the additives that different retail brands add to the product coming out of the transport pipeline.

    You could have it tested but start by looking at it (is it clear or cloudy) and smelling it (rotten eggs, etc. is bad). Don is right, filtering can do wonders but there are exceptions. In that case, dilution is the short-term solution.

  7. #7
    jimbo1490 is offline Hot Rolled
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    There are preservatives for diesel just like for gasoline. Using one will prevent certain bacteria and algae from colonizing the fuel which is the number one problem with long term storage of parrafinic fuels like diesel. Evaporation of volatiles is not a big problem for diesel like it is for gasoline. Kerosene (diesel#1) generally keeps a little better than diesel oil #2, which is what is available at most pumps. Jet A, AKA aviation grade kerosene, keeps very well. Diesels don't seem to know the difference between these fuels, running quite hapily on any of them, especially stationary engines like on a genset. With some injection pumps, accelerated wear can result from long term use of Jet A since it's a little less oily than diesel #2 and for some injection pumps the only lubricant is the fuel. If you're worried about that just mix a little motor oil with the Jet A. The suggested ratio is 1-2 qts per 55 gal drum Jet A.

    Jimbo

  8. #8
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    jimbo1490, I see you didn't read the link I supplied. Re additives-

    The Pour-in Solution ?
    It is very popular today to think that something you can pour into a fuel tank will take care of your fuel problems. There is a large body of experience, including my own, to indicate that any pour-in solution only treats some of the symptoms, but that's not the real problem with this procedure The problem is that while the immediate symptoms may vanish, this cure begins to create its own set of problems. If you kill the bugs, their dead bodies will cause problems sometime in the future * they just become part of the jelly that wants to collect at the bottom of the tank, and we know where that leads. If you emulsify the water in the tank, it still goes through your injection pump and injectors, and will lead to a whole new set of problems.

  9. #9
    Too_Many_Tools is offline Stainless
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    Interesting subject...I have a diesel tractor that is very seldom used...so how long can one let the fuel set before problems occur?

    Does one have to replace it and if so, when?

    TMT

  10. #10
    jimbo1490 is offline Hot Rolled
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    Definitely the key is PREVENTING the bugs from colonizing as I stated. The Additive I refer to is Biobor which is NOT an emulsifier. I never liked the idea of emulsifying water into diesel oil preferring a good Racor water seperator instead. I've owned three diesel P/U trucks over the years and installed a seperator on each of them. Diesel injectors and pumps are very close tolerance parts and just dont tolerate water or grit. I have a chance to grab 5 drums of Jet A 'de-fuel' right now but after thinking about filtering and seperting water I thought it better to just let it go to the fuel dump [img]tongue.gif[/img]

    Jimbo

  11. #11
    sandman2234 is offline Titanium
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    We pumped 200 gallons from a truck wrecked 3 years previous, into my truck. After changing the filters 3 times, we dumped the entire tank and started over. Wish I had known then, what I know now.
    David from jax

  12. #12
    gnorbury is offline Hot Rolled
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    From many hours working with marine diesels, I'd suggest you obtain a fuel sample and provided you can see through it, it'll probably be good to use. If it looks murky, avoid it because it was probably stored in a moisture-rich environment. Under these conditions, "algae" (microbes) will form at the fuel-water interface and create copious black sludge that is capable of blocking filters very quickly.

    Additives can help clean up dirty fuel tanks and their contents, but are not ideal, especially if you've currently got a clean tank.

    Professional fuel polishing services can be very expensive (sometimes more than the cost of new fuel), so unless you happen to own a bunch of dirty fuel and would otherwise have to pay to dispose of it, you probably don't want to go that route either.

    In short, obtain clean fuel and keep it clean by keeping it dry. Tank vents can be a significant source of moisture intrusion...

    Graham

  13. #13
    KrisG is offline Aluminum
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    I would not run a generator or any other engine on this stuff, it just isn't worth it for 90 gallons. Lots of guys around here have heaters that will burn waste oil or just about anything else liquid. They will usually pay 50-75 cents per gallon for this type of stuff. Maybe more now that fuel prices are higher. That is the perfect use for this type of older fuel. I would sell this stuff and use the money to buy some good fuel. For the small value of the fuel it is not worth the engine risk. A full set of lab tests to recertify the fuel would run at least a couple hundred dollars, so that is not really an option. If you absolutely have to use it, I agree, check to see if it is clear and if it has any water in it, filter it, and then dilute it at least 50/50 with brand new diesel 2. that will help it run through the system. Frankly, it just isn't worth it for 90 gallons. If I was going to store diesel for a generator, I would rotate it annually by using it up and getting new fuel.

  14. #14
    Grits's Avatar
    Grits is offline Stainless
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    Blend it with fresh fuel. Make sure you have a good filter on your tank. That should be done with any fuel, specially diesel.

    We use a whole lot of it on the farm.

    Grits

  15. #15
    Joe McDuff is offline Senior Member
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    The fire department at Burt Rutan's Mojave Airport would not allow facility expansion until the water storage for fire supression was enlarged. Every nut and bolt had to be approved by UL or others, to meet insurance requirements and guaranteeing a reliable pressure/volume system.

    Two LP gas fueled IC engines/fire pump combos were installed. NO diesel and NO gasoline.

    J

  16. #16
    DazedConfused's Avatar
    DazedConfused is offline Aluminum
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    Hi Guys, interested to see how stable diesel is, especially considering the problems I've encountered with petrol going off.

    Apologies, butI must be picky here though (Microbiologist!), there is likely to be NO algal contamination of the fuel, since Algae require Light for their growth. This is the same for the cyanobacteria (AKA blue-green algae), and in an enclosed steel fuel storage drum there is no light.

    Bacteria are a different matter,and if there is water in the fuel, they will colonise the interface between the drum and the water/fuel. There are several species of bacteria and fungi which have colonised this niche, and cause storage problems worldwide.

    For nowt, I'd get the oil and burn it to heat the garage/workshop, got to be cheaper than what I pay for the electricity.

  17. #17
    Grits's Avatar
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    The last post is good. Keep light, water, and air away out of the fuel and it will last longer. Something I did not mention on my last post which is in agreement with DC, don't save it for an emergency situation. I would not like to tell my wife in a cold dark house the generator is not running because I put fifteen year old free fuel in it. I would get very lonesome if that happened to me. If you do try to use it and it does not run when it is cold and dark, just say bad fuel and act like you are mad at the distributor. Don't go into detail.

    You can buy abdicatives that will inhibit the growth of bacteria. I would highly recommend rotating the fuel every year. We keep fuel through the winter on irrigation units but that is about it. Condensation in the tanks if they do not have much in them is the biggest problem.

    Grits

  18. #18
    chuckey is offline Stainless
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    Very intersting!, my previous employer had 100+ radio sites with a 5kW diesel generator backup for power. They were run for 1/2 hour once a week for testing so the tank was only re-filled every 3/4 years on average. Never heard of a problem other then water ingress in the fuel.
    Frank

  19. #19
    chinahanji is offline Plastic
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  20. #20
    augoldminer is offline Hot Rolled
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    Working in the mining trade and as a generator tech i have had to clean up diesel gen sets and air compressors that have set for years. The problems with old diesel are water and algae. It helps if you can treat the fuel with algaecide and rig a electric vent valve on the tank to seal the tank and keep the water out. A expansion tank can be piped to the fuel tank to take care of the changes in temp. the coast guard uses this type system with a nitrogen gas cap system on deep water lighted buoys. Get a good filter/seperater to keep the fuel going to the gen set clean and keep the tank as full as possible.the faster the fuel will go bad. You can blame the navy for the algae. They started useing it about 25 years ago to clean up fuel spills and somehow it got into the distribution system. And now no one can stop it. Also the algae will collect the red dye in off road diesel and then you can filter it out. if you see what looks like clups of red jello in a fuel sample that is the live algae. and you need to treat your fuel. And the algae WILL grow in the dark just slower.

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