Why Fuel Goes Bad

Is there such a thing a bad fuel? Yes, your fuel goes bad. It is vulnerable to water contamination during transport and storage. Once you have water in the system, you are set for an invasion of microorganisms.

All storage tanks are vented to the atmosphere. This venting process pulls in outside air which contains humidity and airborne, microscopic bacteria spores. Since water is heavier than fuel, it collects under the fuel, and forms an interface of fuel and water.

Anaerobic (not needing air) microscopic bacteria spores attack the fuel/water interface, where they thrive and multiply. Once established, they entrench themselves in creating a thick layer of slimy deposits.

Aerobic (needing air) bacteria and fungi also grow above the fuel surface, on the sides of tank walls, on internal pipe surfaces, and in filter housings. Left unchecked, microbial assault in these areas leads to accelerated pitting, and corrosion.

For all the problems microorganisms can bring, confirming their presence (or absence) in your tanks is not always a simple matter. Growth at the interface is typically patchy and irregular. If the microorganisms are not growing directly under your sampling ports, they may go undetected.

Under economic pressure to produce more high-value fuel from each gallon of crude oil, the refining industry has developed increasingly effective chemical agents and more sophisticated cracking methods to achieve higher yields of gasoline and diesel fuels. While economically desirable, the fuels you purchase are far less stable than those of even a decade ago, being far less tolerant to water and storage. The effect is a dramatic increase in the incidence of bacteria, sludge, and emulsion.

Water dispersing additives are designed to break down the water molecules so it can be burned. These additives often create emulsion that is recognized by the water separators as fuel, but to the engine it is water and this leaves you with an a poorly functioning engine.

Using a biocide to treat living bacteria in fuel tanks can cause greater problems than what you initially started with. Bacteria that is living will pass through your filters, where as dead bacteria treated with biocide will wax and clog your filters. The best way to handle bacteria is to treat the fuel and then have it Filter Flushed thus removing the dead bacteria.