Fuel Polishing Frequently Asked Questions
Fuel polishing doesn’t involve dusters or grinders like its name might suggest; it uses state-of-the-art polishing units to clean your fuel back to perfection.
To help you understand fuel polishing, this FAQ includes everything there is to know about the restoration process, including the methodology, end-to-end process, and how it can greatly benefit your business.
Whether you need fuel polishing as part of a regular proactive maintenance programme or due to a wider issue, such as testing your tank and its infrastructure, call us today on 0330 123 3399.
What is fuel polishing?
Fuel polishing is an essential tool for diesel-powered emergency and standby systems that can help restore your fuel and ultimately save your business from unplanned downtime.
It is an advanced mechanical maintenance process that removes harmful water, contaminants and sediment, which if not eliminated can severely degrade stored fuel.
During the process of fuel polishing, your fuel is pumped from your tank and passed through a fuel polishing device to be returned to your tank in optimum condition. This greatly improves the reliability of your critical systems and is a key tool in ensuring the dependability of standby generators.
How does fuel become contaminated?
Without proper maintenance, diesel fuel will degrade over time. That’s because it’s required by law to contain 7% biodiesel (FAME) which reduces the environmental impact of the fuel; however, it attracts water which causes the fuel to degrade in quality over time. This is because:
- Water is a contaminant in its own right
- Emulsified and free water encourages microbial growth (diesel bug)
- Water accelerates contamination from solids such as rust
Why would I need fuel polishing?
Fuel polishing systems remove a critical point of failure: fuel contamination.
Modern engines and fuel systems need clean fuel to run reliably. If left untreated, diesel is under continued threat from water and particulate contamination and microbial growth, which create “sludge”.
Sludge then builds up on the bottom of a fuel tank, which can create problems with different areas of your equipment as it runs through the system. The consequence of complete power failure due to contaminated fuel could quite easily lead to the loss of millions of pounds in lost revenue.
The solution to prevent this is to filter the fuel using a polishing system. This means fuel will be usable without having to dig deep in your pockets to replace it with a fresh supply. It also enables your generators to run more efficiently; the cleaner the fuel, the less you’ll use, reducing replacement costs and breakdowns.
Additives can help slow fuel degradation, but they don’t prevent the build-up of contaminants completely. Therefore, a blend of both fuel polishing and additives will ensure your system is fully protected.
What fuels can be polished?
Fuel polishing is beneficial for many applications, particularly generators, storage tanks and marine vessels that rely on fuels such as red diesel (gas oil), white diesel (DERV), heating oils, biodiesel and kerosene.
It’s important to note that if your supply is severely contaminated, fuel polishing may not be your best course of action. That’s why we always take samples from the top, middle and bottom of the tank to identify the root problem and ensure your fuel is treated with the most cost-effective option.
To determine whether your fuel can be polished, our engineers use a particle counter to analyse your fuel and look for any unwanted contaminants that have built up inside your tank. Your comprehensive analysis report includes an easy-to-understand traffic light system to provide a full insight into its quality:
- Green – the fuel meets current legislation
- Amber – the fuel is just under the required criteria and needs polishing
- Red – the fuel is severely contaminated, so an intensive fuel polishing treatment is needed
How does fuel polishing work?
Fuel polishing uses a central processing unit which involves a combination of both depolymerisation and filtration to break down particulates of water, sediment and microbial contamination.
To begin, fuel polishing units are attached to the tank in a parallel circuit which means that you can still use your fuel while it’s being polished. Fuel is filtered through increasingly finer filters to remove all harmful contaminants until it’s clean and reaches a filtration level of 1 micron absolute, removing water to 100ppm – an industry best.
Next, the polishing unit uses advanced depolymerisation technology to break down harmful particulates, polishing your fuel to perfection and ensuring it conforms to EN590 and ISO4406 levels.
If required, the tank is then isolated from your system and cleaned, removing any debris which would re-contaminate your fuel. Before the fuel is returned, it’s tested to ensure it meets industry standards.
Will fuel polishing disrupt my business?
Fuel polishing causes little to no disruption to your business operations. Your equipment and machinery can continue running while the fuel polishing equipment filters contaminants out and the fuel remains in the tank.
Can fuel be polished at my premises?
Yes – we offer fuel polishing as a mobile service, which minimises disruption to your operations whilst providing industry-leading results.
How long does fuel polishing take?
The length of the fuel polishing process is contingent on several factors, including:
- Fuel tank size
- Quality of stored fuel being polished
- Equipment used
- Amount of fuel being polished
Different systems filter fuel at different rates. Our fuel polishing service is a fast process, and polishes up to 25,000 litres of fuel polished within an hour – an industry best!
Factors that affect the speed of fuel polishing systems:
With a pump, contaminated fuel is pushed through filters; it can be harder to force contaminated fuel through a finer filter, so the best results tend to take longer to achieve. In addition, a system that uses higher pressure will result in quicker filtration.
High speed and high quality filtration needs high pressure and finer filters; the larger the volume of fuel, the most powerful the equipment needed.
How often should fuel be polished?
The frequency of fuel polishing depends entirely on the application. If the fuel is being relied on for back-up power, we recommend at least once a year to ensure there’s no unplanned disruption in operations as a result of contaminated fuel.
What if my fuel is too degraded to be polished?
We’ll always test your fuel before recommending any treatment or polishing, to ensure that you’re not paying for services that you don’t need or aren’t appropriate.
If after analysing your fuel we determine that it’s too degraded to polish, there are several next steps that you can take:
- If your business still requires fuel – We can attend your site and remove the degraded fuel, clean your tank and deliver a fresh supply of clean fuel.
- If your business no longer requires fuel – We can uplift your fuel and then our skilled engineers will decommission your tank, making it safe and removing all traces of fuel and contaminants. We can then organise the removal of the redundant tank from your site if required.
What are the benefits of fuel polishing?
Increases generator reliability and longevity – removes water and contaminants from fuel, preventing sludge entering the engine or generator.
Sustainability – Polishing your fuel is a far more sustainable option than having your contaminated fuel disposed of, and cleaner fuel burns far more efficiently which decreases net fuel consumption.
Non-disruptive – because our fuel polishing units are connected to your fuel in a parallel circuit, your infrastructure can continue to function while the supply is polished.
Cost-effective – with moderate contamination, fuel can be polished and dosed with the necessary additive/biocide, which is much cheaper than a full replacement of your fuel stocks.
Is fuel polishing safe?
Fuel polishing is a completely safe process, so long as it’s carried out by a responsible fuel services provider.
Crown Oil Environmental is OFTEC registered and accredited by a number of fuel service organisations, and our engineers have the qualifications and experience to ensure your fuel polishing is carried out in the safest possible manner.
Fuel polishing is arguably much safer than allowing contaminated fuel to sit in your tank, particularly if the tank is made of metal. Microbes like diesel bug create sludge, a thick gel-like substance that settles on the bottom of your tank and can corrode the metal from the inside out.
How much does fuel polishing cost?
Fuel polishing is one of the most cost-effective treatments available when you consider the following:
- There’s no need to buy replacement supply
- Minimal disruption to your operations
- No cost and waste of disposing of contaminated supply
To find out if your fuel needs polishing and a quote for how much it might cost, call our expert team today on 0330 123 3399.
Is fuel polishing available near me?
Crown Oil Environmental specialises in fuel polishing. Using state-of-the-art units, our fuel polishing kit can polish up to 25,000 litres of fuel per hour to an industry-best filtration level of micron 1 absolute, restoring your diesel to optimal ISO 4406 standards of cleanliness.
This ensures you receive the most cost-effective efficient polishing service available, keeping your business costs to a minimum.
Call 0330 123 3399 to find out more about our industry-leading fuel polishing service