Globally, pressure is growing to increase the percentage of bio-fuel in diesel and to reduce its sulphur content, according to leading fuel-testing company Conidia Bioscience.
UK-based Conidia explained how these dual factors increase the potential for microbial growth (diesel bug), as sulphur curbs bug growth and bio-fuel attracts additional water. The marine industry is now therefore faced with lower sulphur fuel across the board, and the potential inclusion of bio-diesel, depending on the source of their fuel.
Caroline Lobatto, marketing/PR manager from Conidia Bioscience told Yachting Pages, “Fuel systems are a perfect habitat for micro-organisms to live and grow in, which is why it is so crucial for sensible husbandry and regular draining to prevent the buildup of sediments. These harmful micro-organisms, if undetected, can cause blocked fuel filters, wear injectors and stop engines. If they are left for long periods without treatment, the ‘bugs’ can literally eat through stainless steel.
“Some manufacturers recommend complete fuel tank drains and cleaning on a periodic, prophylactic basis. There are, however, a number of proprietary tests on the market to determine the presence of microbial contamination.”
Caroline explained the process where diesel bug can multiply; “The speed at which diesel-bug can multiply is incredible. Microbiological contamination stems from water content in fuel: if you remove the water you remove the breeding ground. It is very difficult to remove all the water from a system, and the industry operators describe this as the “holy grail” of fuel maintenance.
“At present it is possible to control the problem with a combination of filtering, regular filter inspection, testing and treatment (including biocides, fuel polishing and mechanical cleaning). This can be time consuming and expensive, but is considerably more straightforward and cheaper than dealing with any resulting tank and engine damage. Testing before bunkering, to avoid taking contaminated fuel on-board, is now an option with the introduction of the new 10 minute immunoassay method.”
Conidia Bioscience is expanding into the marine diesel sector, with its FUELSTAT® Diesel Plus test. The onsite fuel test can be run wherever fuel is manufactured, stored, distributed or used and is capable of detecting all known organisms which grow in fuel and in fuel systems.
According to the company, “The objective of this test is to provide rapid screening of fuel samples (water in fuel or fuel), giving a quick and accurate assessment of H Res, bacteria & other fungi including yeasts in the fuel tank. This test is unlike current growth-based tests, which require a minimum of 72 hours to provide any results. The test measures the amount of active growth in the sample and provides action and alert levels.”
For more information, visit Conidia Bioscience.