Don’t worry, this post is not about a science fiction scenario where everyone and everything gets infected by a deadly virus. It is also not about covid, because we hear enough of that on the news already. This post is however about the deterioration of fuel in vehicles and vessels that are left unused for a long time due to today’s travel restrictions related to covid. If the health of your combustion engine is important to you, then this article will help you to understand how to prevent your engine from getting infected.
Where I Live
I have the pleasure to live at an amazing place called Benalmadena Costa in the south of Spain, also known as the “Costa del Sol”. Like many of the coastal places in this region, it has lively and vibrant settings acting as the Mecca for international tourists that want to escape there colder climates and enjoy the Spanish hospitality and outdoor life style. During normal times, many tourists and foreigners with a second residence in Spain, are enjoying their yachts, the fishing trips, dolphin watching boat tours, and numerous bus excursions to great attractions like the Alhambra in Granada, Gibraltar, the Plaza De España in Seville, or the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
Engines on Standby
But as we all know, things are quite different now. Due to the travel restrictions, most tour buses remain parked and most of the pleasure craft has not left the ports since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. So let’s consider for a moment what happens inside the fuel system of those combustion engines. Gasoline and diesel are not stable, and they react with air and humidity the minute you fill your tank. In fact, a small percentage of water is most likely already present in the fuel when you initially buy it.
Vessels Struggle More with Water in Fuel
Marine mechanics at the Costa del Sol, estimate that 90% of engine repairs are caused by fuel problems.
By design, vessels struggle with water contamination in the fuel, which is the favourite breeding space of bacteria. There is generally a lot of humidity in the air around vessels and temperature changes stimulate the formation of condensation. The water contamination concentrates at the bottom of the tanks where it can cause corrosion in the tank and where it breeds moulds, yeast and bacteria leaving sludge in the fuel which is the nightmare of any boat owner. With less consumption of fuel at ports, some fuel stations may also struggle to supply the same high quality fuel as before. Diesel fuel with a larger proportion of biodiesel, will be even more affected as it is more vulnerable to bacteria and absorption of water.
The deterioration of fuel generally goes by unnoticed when vehicles keep their engines running and replace the consumed fuel with fresh, clean diesel or gasoline. Owners of backup diesel generator sets know however what happens if fuel is not renewed after periods longer than six months for example. Generally this is a time where you will still be able to start your engine, though the quality (and caloric value!) of the fuel will have deteriorated significantly. Upon ignition, a thick, black smoke tends to come out of the exhaust pipe. This is a result of fuel being infected with contaminants like water, moulds, yeast and bacteria that literally feed on fuel leaving nasty byproducts (sludge). Tar-like deposits that harden and clog the system form in the interior of the engine, causing additional problems like diminished injector spray characteristics that cause incomplete combustion of the fuel. This, in turn, worsens the exhaust emission contamination. To make things worse, water molecules in the fuel reduce the amount of lubrication given by the fuel causing structural wear in the engine.
When you buy a new vessel or engine system, inform yourself about the design of your fuel tank and fuel system. Modern fuel tank design reduces the effect of condensation as much as possible and allows for water drainage from the bottom of the tank. Most fuel systems in vessels also include high quality water separators and filters.
But what if you are a boat owner, or owner of any vehicle that you want to start after a long period of total shutdown? Prior to starting that engine, you may want to test the quality of the fuel to prevent you will not be poisoning your engine and later get the bill for a costly engine repair. If your fuel is heavily contaminated, there are services of dewatering, cleaning and polishing your fuel, as well as cleaning your tank. Believe me, this is a cheaper option than running your engine with highly contaminated fuel.
Do yourself and your engine a big favor by installing a Black Eagle Fuel Enhancer in your fuel system. This device enhances your fuel and eliminates bacteria through a chemical process. It is a cost efficient way to protect your engine and optimise your fuel consumption, while reducing exhaust emissions that damage our environment.
Once you have a clean fuel system and protected your engine with the Black Eagle Fuel Enhancer, make sure you run your engine from time to time and top op the tank with fresh fuel from a trusted source. If travel restrictions prevent you from doing this yourself, consider asking a person of trust to run the engine for you. If you struggle to find someone to take out your luxury yacht at the Costa del Sol, please do send me a message – I am sure that we can work something out ;-).
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