By Phil Hamilton, Fuel Additives Manager, and Dawn Cross, Marketing Director
Keep your truck running this winter by taking control of your diesel fuel quality. With loads to deliver and hours of service to adhere to, you don’t want waxing and fuel failures to stop you in your tracks.
Maintaining consistent fuel quality is difficult because so many variables can affect the fuel. Unfortunately, it may not be as simple as always refueling at the same stations. Changes in source, manufacturing and blending may mean the fuel you bought today is chemically different than what you purchased two weeks ago.
Some of this happens during the refining process; variations can occur in the water and paraffin concentrations found in refined diesel fuels. In other instances, the tanker delivering the fuel can cause contamination to occur in the fuel. This happens when the tanker is used to haul all types of fuel, known as switch loading. Inevitability, any remaining fuel from the previous load will mix with the new load.
Cross-contamination can happen onsite at the fueling station. Unless fuel storage tanks are properly maintained, water can make its way into the tanks. This is a double whammy because ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel is prone to moisture. Any water or moisture present can cause rust and corrosion, as well as issues with bacteria in the tanks, all of which can taint the fuel. Throw in some cold temperatures to these scenarios, and it can seem like the odds are stacked against you.
Winterized diesel fuel
Regulatory standards define the minimum performance requirements for diesel fuels. Phrases such as ‘at least,’ ‘no greater than’ and ‘ranges between’ are used to describe acceptable fuel quality. When temperatures plunge, acceptable fuel quality may not be enough to get you through the winter.
Diesel fuel can start to gel and clog filters at 10 ºF – 15 ºF. When the fuel temperature drops below the cloud point, the fuel loses its ability to hold the paraffin (wax) and moisture in suspension. Wax particles will then begin to bond together and become visible—the fuel looks cloudy or hazy. Once the ‘wax cloud’ is present in untreated fuel, the formation of larger wax structures occurs rapidly.
As the wax particles become heavier, they’ll sink to the bottom of the fuel tank. If the wax reaches the tank draw point, it can plug dispenser filters, which eventually prevents the fuel from flowing.
Understanding #1 diesel and #2 diesel
Diesel fuel is available in two main grades, #1 diesel and #2 diesel. #1 diesel is thinner than #2 diesel because of its refining process. Paraffin is removed from the chemical mix, allowing #1 diesel to remain in liquid form. This gives #1 the advantage for cold temperature performance, but fuel economy can suffer if you’re hauling heavy loads over long distances.
On the other hand, #2 diesel contains more energy components and lubricant properties, which allows for better fuel economy. The downside to #2 diesel is its tendency to gel when temperatures drop. Gelling can lead to hard starts and a compromised fuel system.
Even though #2 diesel contains more lubricity than #1 diesel, it still may not be enough to protect fuel systems from wear. Since 2007, the EPA has placed more emphasis on fuel emission performance rather than its lubricity.
During winter months, fuel stations will offer a winter blend of #1 and #2 diesel. However, it’s up to the service stations to decide on the winter blending percentages. The market doesn’t have a standard stations must meet for winter blends. Not only does this create differences in fuel quality, but it can also mean the fuel may not be able to withstand lower temperatures.
Presence of biodiesel
What the EPA mandates and what states require make it hard to keep driving without any fuel problems. On top of that, you may not realize that biofuel is present in every gallon of diesel fuel purchased. Biofuel is great for the environment, but it hinders cold-weather performance. It’s especially hygroscopic, which causes problems in fuel because water freezes faster than wax. Diesel fuel may contain up to five percent biofuel without it being labeled as biodiesel.
Many states require a set percentage of biofuel mixed into every gallon. For example, Minnesota requires #2 diesel to contain at least 20 percent biodiesel (B20) from April 1 to September. From October 1 to March 31, #2 diesel must contain at least five percent biodiesel.
Surviving the winter
Weather is unpredictable, and fuel quality can be unreliable. Don’t take a chance this winter with your fuel quality. Using fuel treated with a multi-functional additive package can mean the difference between driving and gelled fuel.
Some fuel stations will include a premium diesel package already blended into their fuel. Others might offer you the option to blend it yourself. Look for fuel or a fuel additive that includes these performance additives:
When preparing for the winter, make sure you follow these tips to keep your fuel flowing:
Performance you can trust
When choosing a fuel additive, look for one that offers you a complete solution for year-round consistent fuel quality like Schaeffer’s Fuel Additives.
Our fuel additives will improve system performance by increasing lubricity lost with sulfur reduction, combat the effects of water, corrosion, long-term storage, the formation of coke in injectors, premature oxidation of fuel and clean deposits from an engine.
Schaeffer uses a jet fuel de-icer and water dispersant that contains no alcohol. Our high-quality additive has a proven record of high performance and reliability to handle any environment. Additionally, our proprietary WASA allows wax to quickly diffuse, so more fuel is able to pass through the filter. This provides more time for the engine to warm up, and once the engine is warmed up, the chances of waxing issues are diminished.
On top of that, we’ve doubled the amount of moisture control in our fuel additives, thus exceeding industry standards for subfreezing performance. With this much moisture control, our fuel additives provide superior moisture removal performance from untreated diesel fuels and eliminate potential icing and waxing issues.
Our fuel additives are built to perform in different weather conditions across the country. Each year, from October to March, we test our fuel additives to document cold-weather performance. The data consistently shows proven cold filter plugging point results. We offer different treatment ratios so you’re only using what you need for your region or driving route.
Let us show you how we can keep your diesels running year-round. Visit www.schaefferoil.com or call 800-325-9962