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Diesel Generator Reliability: Lessons

Learned from Storms

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In Canada many critical facilities have
emergency backup power, including:
• Hospitals
• Educational facilities
• Government buildings
• Data centers

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The vast majority of emergency power is
supplied by diesel generator sets:

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To operate reliably, engine-driven
equipment needs:
• Good quality fuel supply
• Adjacent day tank
• Maintain steady fuel temperature
• Fuel system interface
• BAS interface

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Four most common causes of generator
failures during the storms was:
• Poor fuel quality
• Dead or weak starting batteries
• Generator coolant system failure
• Improper control settings

Proper system design and maintenance will


prevent these failures.

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Maintenance & Inspection

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Preparedness

Additional considerations for sensitive areas:

• Exercise generators weekly, with different facility


personnel on duty each time.
• Perform a periodic cold start test.
• Review your logs & service invoices to determine
when and why you call in an outside technician.
(He likely won’t be available during and after a
storm)

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When an event is threatening:
• Perform a pre-event inspection targeting all the
items on the preceding list.
• Sample your fuel to ensure it is in good condition.
• Top off your fuel tanks. Have multiple suppliers
lined up.
• Ensure you have all the recommended spare parts
for your generators on hand.
• Schedule your best technician(s) to be on site
when the storm hits.

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Fuel Maintenance

• Diesel fuel is an organic product that


begins to decay as soon as it is refined.
• Sludge formation is an organic
decomposition process exacerbated by the
presence of water.
• Water enters the tank through vents, leaks,
and is often delivered with the fuel.

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Fuel Maintenance

Water collects at the bottom of the fuel tank, so


sludge grows mostly at the fuel-water boundary at
the bottom of the tank.

Sludge builds up

Weekly generator tests will not consume enough


fuel to keep the fuel fresh and turned over.

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Fuel Maintenance

Filtration systems are recommended for diesel


generator systems where the fuel is likely to sit for
long periods of time. A typical system will:

• Filter the sludge from the


oil down to 2 microns
• Remove water from the
fuel
• Add a chemical stabilizer
to the fuel oil
• Run automatically and
sequence multiple tanks.

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Fuel System Design:

• Select a manufacturer with experience in


Mission Critical fuel systems
• Design for system redundancy
• Hold a single source supplier responsible
• Design for continuous fuel maintenance

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The shocking secret:

“The diesel engine manufacturer will not


design the fuel oil system for the
generator.”

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Typical Main Storage Tank

High Level Alarm Emergency Vent


(Typical of 2)
Normal Vent
Access Cover
Fill Pipe
Main Pump
Suction
Return Filtration Suction
Pipe

Interstitial
Leak
•Tank Access Sensor
•Fill Location

Level
Transmitter

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Pump Set Controls include:

• Motor Controls
• Fused Circuits or Circuit Breakers
• Magnetic Starters & Overload Protection
• HOA & Run Lights
• Duplex Pump Operation
• Start/Stop Control
• Lead/Lag Control
• Automatic Alternation of Lead
Pump
• Flow Proving
• Pump Set Basin Leak Detection
• Strainer Pressure Drop
• Automatic Pump Exercising
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Day Tank & Return Tank Controls include:

• Tank Level Controls


• High & Low Level Alarms
• Fill Control
• Pump On/Off Control
• Fill Valve On/Off Control
• Fuel Temperature Monitoring
• Secondary Containment Leak
Detection
• Motor Controls on Return
Tanks

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Typical Fill Box includes:
• Volume and level indication
• High level alarm and horn
• Spill containment

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Centralized control of the fuel system helps ensures
proper control, monitoring, and external
communication.
PREFERRED UTILITIES WIRING LEGEND
DAY TANK PANEL ALL WIRING BY DIV. 16
PREFERRED UTILITIES
480/3 PRIMARY POWER SUPPLY ELECTRICAL WIRING PER SPECIFICATIONS
MASTER CONTROL PANEL
ALARMS TO BAS SH 'SH' DESIGNATES SHEILDED WIRE, RUN IN SEPARATE CONDUIT
PREFERRED UTILITIES 2/#14 'X/#X', DESIGNATES NUMBER OF CONDUCTORS/MIN. GAUGE
RS 485 2 WIRE BAS INTERFACE 12/#14
Z.
DAY TANK PANEL BY BUILDING AUTOMATION CONTRACTOR, PER SPECIFICATIONS

C.

480/3 PRIMARY POWER SUPPLY


12/#14 Z.

480/3 PRIMARY POWER SUPPLY


2/#14-SH
2/#14-SH

2/#14-SH
2/#14

4/#14

2/#14
2/#14
2/#14-SH
6/#14

I. O. O.
J.
FUTURE

M.

2/#14 - SH

2/#14 - SH
120/1 POWER SUPPLY

2/#14

4/#14
8/#14

2/#14

2/#14

4/#14
8/#14

2/#14
H. W. P.
Q. Q. V. G. M.
X. X. I. I.

F. 1 1
A.
EMERGENCY EMERGENCY
U. GENERATOR N.C. GENERATOR N.C.
L. D. D. N. U. N. U.
S S
C.
E. K. T.
B.
Y. Z. Z.
R.

AA. COMPONENT LEGEND NOTES


G.
A. UL 2085 PRIMARY STORAGE TANK, 10,000 GALLONS J. FUSIBLE LINK FIRE SHUT-OFF VALVE W/ LIMIT SWITCH S. BACKPRESSURE REGULATOR VALVE (MODEL V) 1 GENERATOR CALL TO RUN SIGNAL (CONTACT ON
BY MODERN WELDING COMPANY (MODEL 110) T. PRESSURE GUAGE (TYPICAL) GENERATOR PANEL)
B. DUPLEX PUMP SET FACTORY ASSEMBLED K. DOUBLE POPPET FOOT VALVE U. FLOW SWITCH, FIELD INSTALLED
(MODEL ATPS 203-460-50-D-DP-L-BAS-SP) L. RACK MOUNTED AUTOMATIC FUEL FILTERING V. MANWAY
C. MASTER CONTROL PANEL, FACTORY MOUNTED STATION FOR REMOVAL OF WATER AND PARTICULATE W. HIGH LEVEL SWITCH (MODEL HLS)
(MODEL PF-305) X. 4" SPARE OPENING
D. SAFETY RELIEF VALVE FACTORY MOUNTED M. ANTI-SIPHON VALVE (MODEL A, COORDINATE HEAD & FLOW)
E. FREE STANDING REMOTE OVERFILL ALARM STATION Y. PUMP SET LEAK DETECTOR (MODEL PS-LDS)
N. MOTORIZED FILL VALVE W/ POSITION INDICATION Z. 360 GALLON DAY TANK/RETURN PUMP SET
(MODEL FA-AV-R-D3)
O. FUSIBLE LINK CABLE, ATTACHED TO FIXED OBJECT OPPOSITE VAVLE FACTORY ASSEMBLED AND TESTED
F. OVERFILL PREVENTION VALVE(MODEL 61F)
G. LEAK DETECTOR (MODEL HD-A1) P. FOOT VALVE EXTRACTOR FITTING (MODEL DT-360-T-R-UL-EQ-SP)
H. WIRE FLOAT LEVEL TRANSMITTER (MODEL TG-EL-WF) Q. EMERGENCY VENT AA. TRANSITION SUMP
I. ROUTE VENT TO EXTERIOR, TERMINATE WITH VENT R. IN-GROUND FILL BOX WITH HAND PUMP (MODEL 1)
PROTECTOR CAP (MODEL 11740, COORDINATE W/ TANK)

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Design Considerations:

• Fuel systems should be contained within the


Plumbing Construction Documents
• Wiring for fuel devices should be shown on
Division 16 plans
• BAS points should be detailed
• Fuel scope should be provided by a single
supplier
• Div. 15 & 16 scopes should be coordinated
• Fuel Control System specifically geared toward
Mission Critical facilities

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“When the lights go out, it’s too late.”

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