Bio-diesel Applications

The Optic Edge: see and solve a problem

Biodiesel, a clean-burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources, is creating a new growth story in the transportation industry.

When President George W. Bush signed the new federal energy bill in August 2005, biodiesel was a key beneficiary.

The growth of biodiesel production and use is sparking both public and private efforts to expand the infrastructure capable of delivering this homegrown fuel to motorists. Directly linked to this is escalating awareness of the importance of tank cleaning and maintenance.

Government and industry publications are citing the need for tank owners and operators to understand and effectively manage fuel quality through tank system maintenance.

Our system provides one of the best ways to keep an eye on biodiesel quality. Utilizing fiber-optic technology, we can inspect fuel in a biodiesel tank and immediately show where any problems (water, microbial colonies, loose sediment) are occurring. Once pinpointed, the fuel-quality problem can be treated using an integrated vacuum and five-stage filtration process. The good stuff then goes back into the tank. The bad stuff is redirected into holding containers for waste disposal.

Here are links to what the experts are saying about preparing tank systems for bio-diesel:

Controlling microbial contamination in B100. How bacteria creates a fuel-quality challenge.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy,
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
2004 Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines (Page 25)

“If biological contamination is a problem, water contamination needs to be controlled since the aerobic fungus, bacteria, and yeast hydrocarbon utilizing microorganisms ( HUMBUGS) usually grow at the fuel-water interface. Anaerobic colonies, usually sulfur reducing, can be active in sediments on tank surfaces and cause corrosion.”

Preventing fuel filters burst by B100 and sediments.
Why sediments in tanks pose a marketing problem.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy,
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
2004 Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines (Page 25)

“Methyl esters have been used as low VOC (volatile organic compound) cleaners and solvents for decades. Methyl esters make an excellent parts cleaner, and several companies are offering methyl esters as a low VOC, non-toxic replacement for the volatile solvents used in parts washers. B100, being comprised of methyl esters meeting ASTM D6751, has a tendency to dissolve the accumulated sediments in diesel storage and engine fuel tanks. These dissolved sediments can plug fuel filters and in some cases cause the fuel filters to burst, sending all the sediment through the fuel injection system. If this happens, it can cause injector deposits and even fuel injector failure. If you plan to use or store B100 for the first time, clean the tanks and anywhere in the fuel system where sediments or deposits may occur before filling with B100.”

Avoiding plugged filters with B20 storage.
How to plan properly for the side effects of a tank conversion to biodiesel.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy,
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
2004 Biodiesel Handling and Use Guidelines (Page 25)

“Blends of 20% biodiesel or less minimize any cleaning effect or solvency issues with accumulated sediments in tanks, although minor filter plugging may be observed during the initial weeks of B20 use in some cases. Blends above 20% should always be stored in clean, dry tanks as recommended for conventional diesel fuel. Using B20 for a year or more will probably not ‘clean’ your tanks and is not a substitute for a thorough tank cleaning when preparing for higher level blends or B100 storage.”

Avoiding water-induced biodegradation of fuel.
How to keep your tank system free from moisture.

Source: Steel Tank Institute
“Keeping Water out of Your Storage System”

“From the removal of lead and MTBE, to additives such as ethanol and biodiesel, product chemistry has undergone fairly recent change. These new fuels are more susceptible to moisture accumulation, separation and potential biodegradation accelerated by water. For example, lead was a natural poison to the microbes that could grow in a moist environment – in today’s lead-free fuels, microbial growth can more readily occur.”