The use of newer fuels that are less stable and prone tocontamination creates the need for regular tank cleaning.
AST Fuel Storage
Four steps to help your customers protect their fuel investment
By Michael Delaney
Regardless of the need, stored fuel sitting in ASTsmust perform as expected. Poor fuel performancecan result in financial loss or threatened personalsafety. Several trends have led to an increasedneed for and attention to fuel storage:The sources of diesel and heating oil havechanged to include various crude gradesand alternative fuels that are more viscousand prone to contamination.1.Clean air and energy independenceinitia-tives have required new fuelformulation, like the required reduction ofsulfur in diesel. These new fuels often act assolvents, causing decades of accumulatedgrime to suspend in the fuel.2.Dramatic advancement in the efficiency ofthe fuel-powered equipment makesequipment more susceptible to fuel qualityproblems.3.In recent years, equipment and fuel advancementswere made in reaction to energy shortages andenvironmental concerns. These advancements, however, have costs that include increased prices and fuelsthat are less stable and prone to contamination. Major storage tank contaminants are water, microbial growth,particulate matter and fuel breakdown byproducts, causing increased wear and corrosion, clogging, degradedperformance and equipment failure. A robust fuel storage plan can prevent potential issues, protect fuelinvestments and ensure ultimate performance and reliability.
Protecting Fuel Investments
When fuel costs rose last year, fuel users changed their buying behaviors. Some users, i.e., farmers, fill theirtanks at the end of the planting season, storing it until the harvest. Backup generator owners never know whenthey will need their fuel, and it may sit for years. While it makes sense for users to buy fuel just before it is used,fuel will likely be stored for an extended period of time and will require more care.As petroleum equipment professionals, you are well aware of the many issues facing fuel tank owners, andeducating them about fuel storage risks and problems is your responsibility. It's crucial to provide customerswith guidance about the proper care of their equipment, as proper care will lead to long-term efficient andreliable operation and will help users avoid losing a fuel load. You must provide fuel storage stewardship toyour customers.Protecting fuel investments and ensuring that the fuel load will perform can be accomplished in four steps:
Prepare the fuel storage environment. Inspect the tanks and piping and fix leaks, corrosion or damage.
Remove existing contaminants and sediments. It is self-defeating to put clean fuel into an environmentripe for future contamination.
Assess that ongoing fuel filtering and conditioning are adequate and reliable.
Prepare a storage maintenance plan that includes scheduled testing, assessment and periodicmaintenance of the fuel storage system, not just the fuel-powered equipment. Consider the conditions underwhich the fuel is stored, fuel types, and special requirements and usage of the fuel.
Fuel System Maintenance Plan
There are tools to prepare, maintain and, when needed, decontaminate fuel tanks. Tank cleaning, fuelpolishing and treatment processes are readily available and can be incorporated into maintenance or serviceplans.Develop a simple, clear message for your customers. They must know that today's fuels are significantlydifferent and require extra care. In addition to reviewing their maintenance costs, you should also review theequipment's performance and efficiency. A review of your customer's maintenance history may show them thatover they years they have paid more to resolve issues caused by poor fuel than they have spent onmaintenance. Show how the costs of your services are justified in reduced equipment repair, improvedperformance and reduced risk of fuel loss.A primary benefit of providing a fuel system plan is the increased positive interaction with your customers,which will enhance your reputation as an energy expert. The plan development will also be a chance to findother equipment and service opportunities. Maintenance tasks can be done during off-peak times, keeping yourcrews busy during slow times. Most important, the plan will enhance your ability to deliver products withperceived high quality and efficiency to your customers.Delivering proper fuel stewardship to your customers will make you the reliable petroleum equipmentprofessional they need and to whom they will be loyal.