Special Report: Fuels Institute Issues Diesel Dispenser Filtration Guidelines

As fuel site operators continue to contend with corrosion and degradation in diesel storage tanks that contribute to fuel contamination, maintaining a high level of fuel quality is becoming increasingly challenging for diesel marketers.

In response to this problem, the Fuels Institute Diesel Fuel Quality Council released “Diesel Storage Tanks: Industry Practices to Minimize Degradation and Improve Fuel Quality” earlier this year. The document compiles recommended best practices to combat contamination in diesel. The report addresses contamination that may occur at the point of delivery or during storage, and it affirms that “the dispenser is the last piece of equipment used before the product reaches the end user and requires specific attention.”

Here are 3 things about diesel dispenser filtration that the Fuels Institute wants equipment distributors, fuel site operators and service technicians to know:

1. Despite what your state’s dispenser filtration regulations mandate, a 30-micron filter in a diesel or biodiesel dispenser may not provide filtration that adequately protects engines designed to meet Tier 3 and Tier 4 emissions standards.

Not only do the new diesel engines have to meet higher emissions standards, they are expected to deliver a longer service life than their predecessors. This means new diesel vehicles will consume more fuel over their lifetime than previous models and the system will be potentially exposed to a longer duration of contaminants. Fleets that operate their own fueling systems have experienced vehicle damage from hard particles as small as 4 microns, “suggesting that a 30-micron (dispenser) filter adds little protection to a modern diesel engine” the report states. When small particulate is allowed to pass through a 30-micron dispenser filter, it increases the filtration required at the point of the vehicle’s pre-filter and fuel filter.

Recommended Best Practice: Use 10-micron dispenser filters to remove smaller particles.

2. Tank operators in states that adopt the regulations within NIST Handbook 130 must ensure that free-phase water in the tank is below ¼ of an inch for diesel blended with biodiesel. This will help prevent the dispenser from entering “slow-flow mode.”

Dispensers fitted with filters designed to alert operators to excessive levels of water in the diesel tank will restrict the flow of fuel to 1) prevent the dispenser from passing along diesel contaminated with water to the vehicle and 2) alert operators who are monitoring dispenser flow rates to a problem in the fueling system.

Recommended Best Practice: The Fuels Institute guidelines recommend that operators adopt a “zero tolerance” posture towards free phase water in the tank. Although standards permit a minimal amount of water in the tank, studies indicate that any amount of water in the fueling system can promote microbial growth and equipment degradation, which in turn, decreases fuel quality. Increased equipment degradation contributes to higher amounts of particulate in the fuel, which in turn, can cause the filter to reach capacity limits prematurely and require frequent filter changes.

3. Different diesel applications require different dispenser filters.

The Fuels Institute report reminds fuel site operators and technicians that diesel retail fueling falls into 2 categories: auto diesel for light-duty vehicles and truck diesel for heavy-duty vehicles. The flow rate on dispensers pumping auto diesel is around 10 gallons per minute (gpm), but heavy-duty truck diesel dispensers have flow rates up to 50 gpm. As such, higher volume dispenser filters will be needed for truck diesel dispensers.

Recommended Best Practice: At minimum, the report suggests that operators change filters annually regardless of flow volume. PetroClear recommends changing filters every 6 months regardless of flow volume to account for seasonal fluctuations that may be affecting the quality of the fuel.

To learn more about your state’s dispenser filtration micron rating requirements, please reference PetroClear’s State-by-State Guide to Dispenser Filter Regulations.

For assistance selecting a PetroClear diesel dispenser filter, please contact Sales Director Robert Ingham.