“Bugs in my fuel”

Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions on Microbial Growth in Fuel

WHAT ARE MICRO-ORGANISMS OR BUGS?
The scientific names for the most common types of organisms that live in petroleum products are Cladosporium resinae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The organisms are either air or water borne and contaminate fuel systems by entering through vents, standing water in sump bottoms, dissolved free water or trash incurred during the transportation or delivery of the fuel.

WHAT DO THESE BUGS DO?
These slimy bugs live and multiply in the fuel/water interface. They exist in the water and feed off the hydrocarbons in the fuel. They are in the water and feed off the hydrocarbons in the fuel. They are referred to as Hydrocarbon Utilizing Micro-organisms, commonly known as H.U.M. Bugs. As they grow, they form mats that are dark in color and appear gel-like. Their waste produces water, sludge, acids and other harmful by-products. Micro-organisms will consume rubber gaskets, O-rings, hoses, tank linings and coatings in an effort to obtain their mineral content.

DO THEY POSE A THREAT TO MY EQUIPMENT?
YES!! A major threat! Once they become established in fuel, they will double in population every 20 minutes. Eventually they form a mat of black, brown or green slime. This slime poses a serious hazard to both equipment and storage facilities.

For example, its destructive forces will …

  • Clog fuel filters, fuel lines and gauges.
  • Corrode pumps and injectors.
  • Cause washers, hoses and connectors to swell and blister.
  • Degrade fuel and cause poor fuel economy.

This contamination can also prevent water and particulate from settling out of the fuel. Also, in plugging of filters and fuel and product lines, contamination can cause unexpected and excessive down time, equipment failure and/or unpreparedness in cases of emergencies or power outages for back-up equipment.

CAN CONTAMINATED FUEL BE TREATED?
YES, but the fuel must be filtered and the storage tank must also be cleaned. The OPTIC FUEL CLEAN technology can filter the fuel and clean the tank with its all-in-one process.

WHAT CAUSES MICROBIAL CONTAMINATION IN FUELS?
It is caused by living microscopic cells. They can be either bacteria or fungus, such as mold. The same thing happens to a loaf of bread or a piece of cheese. Even if kept refrigerated, it can be contaminated with mold. The same thing occurs when fuel becomes colonized by HYDROCARBON UTILIZING MICRO-ORGANISMS.

Microbes can enter the tank through the vents, fill tubes or be sucked in by the breathing action of the fuel tank during the fluctuation in temperature and tank volume. Also, fuel that sits in a tank is more susceptible to contamination than fuel that is rapidly consumed, such as fuel that is used for a back up generation system compared to a high volume service station where the fuel is used and replaced frequently.

WHERE DOES THIS CONTAMINATION ORIGINATE?
Anywhere and everywhere! These micro-organisms exist in air, water and soil. Every time fuel is handled, the chance of contamination increases. What’s more, it occurs in virtually any environment from the tropics to the high arctic.

CAN THE PRESENCE OF THESE ORGANISMS BE DETECTED?
YES, there are two (2) ways.

  1. BY VISUAL OBSERVATION, build up of foul smelling (black, brown green or reddish) substances will be found on fuel filters. Or Optic Fuel Clean of CA can take a bottom sample directly from the tank for you and put it in a transparent container so you can see it yourself!
  2. BY ANALYTICAL LABORATORY TESTING. ($200 to $700)

WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO TAKE A FUEL SAMPLE?
The most accurate reading will be from a tank bottom sample. This is the method used by Optic Fuel Clean of CA and also this procedure is the standard measurement for the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), American Society for Testing and Materials (A.S.T.M.) and other state and local agencies as well as many air pollution control districts.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD FUEL BE SAMPLED?
Sampling at least once every quarter is adequate. On average, every six month is acceptable and recommended. Since microbe can double their population approximately every twenty (20) minutes, the quality of the fuel will change rapidly.

SHOULD NEW FUELS BE SAMPLED?
YES, even though fuel is sterilized by the refining processed, there is no way of knowing how long this fuel has been stored or the condition of the storage or transport vessel.

WHAT PRODUCTS ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO CONTAMINATION?
Diesel fuel is the most susceptible, but definitely not the only product the can be affected. The following is a list of the products that can be affected by H.U.M.:
JET FUEL
DIESEL FUEL
AVGAS
INSULATING FUEL
JP4
HYDRAULIC OIL
GASOLINE
SELECTED SOLVENTS
CUTTING OILS
SYNTHETIC OIL

The solution is simply a program of sampling and purification by filtration. Optic Fuel Clean of CA can help your company with these and other products to keep your fuels and tanks free from destructive HYDROCARBON UTILIZING MICRO-ORGANISMS.