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Practical Issues concerning the use and storage of Biodiesel

There are housekeeping issues to be aware of when converting over to operate on biodiesel, failure to appreciate the differences and implement a policy of ‘best practice’ may leave your organisation exposed to unnecessary and avoidable problems.

Storage

It is essential that all tanks are thoroughly agitated and cleaned to dislodge any loose contaminants from the previous fossil fuel. This material should be drained off and disposed of in a safe, controlled  manner.

Biodiesel, particularly in higher blends has a powerful solvent action and will dissolve residues, gums and lacquers built up over time  on the inside surfaces  of tanks from diesel fuel.

It is this dissolved matter that will be carried through the fuel lines and may cause restrictions and blocking of the fuel filter. It is recommended that the fuel filter is changed at this time and also monitored closely and changed again within the first 500-1000 miles to prevent roadside problems.

Blended diesel and in particular the higher blends and B100 are hygroscopic. (water molecules can be adsorbed from moisture laden air)

Fuel heavily contaminated with water may lead to corrosion of fuel injection components and the increased likelihood of bacterial activity in the fuel causing clogging of lines or filters.

The solution is ‘best practice’ housekeeping of a properly specified fuel.

Bacterial and fungal growth in fuel tanks is not new or unique to biodiesel; contamination in fossil fuel storage systems is endemic supporting a whole service industry of Fuel Engineers, Filter Manufacturers and Fuel Polishers managing this issue. The solution is ‘best practise’ housekeeping.

Size fuel tanks appropriately, ensuring regular throughput of biodiesel. All fuels store better in full tanks.  Maintain the fuel in sealed or airtight tanks were possible, ensuring that tank vents and breathers are desiccant filtered.

Storage, Packaging and Use Instructions

  • Where possible store in original containers, keep containers sealed until point of use. Once opened care must be taken to ensure proper sealing of caps/lids.
  • Always store in properly dated and labelled containers.
  • Keep containers upright, store in a bunded area, and do not depend on the materials biodegradability as mitigation of pollution due to drips, leaks and spills.
  • Store away from direct sunlight in a safe, dry, cool, ventilated area.
  • Store away from naked flame and avoid incompatible materials that may cause deteriation of product packaging.
  • Observe local regulations and notify local fire officer of the content under store.

Personnel

  • Always wear PPE (personal protection equipment) Use only with adequate ventilation and avoid breathing fumes and vapours.
  • Use breathing aids if ventilation is inadequate.
  • Avoid ingestion... seek immediate medical assistance if ingestion occurs.
  • If skin contact is made, wash immediately with warm water to avoid possibility of irritation. If irritation occurs seek medical advice.
  • Avoid contact with eyes, skin and work wear, wash thoroughly hands, face and around the mouth before eating or drinking after coming into contact with products.