If you own a diesel fuelled vehicle, you may have heard of the term diesel bug in cars. Boat owners may also be familiar with this term. In case you haven’t, this article will help you get to know more about what a diesel bug is and how it occurs. You will also be enlightened on why you need to test fuel, the best diesel bug treatment, and how to reduce the risk of fuel contamination.
What is Diesel Bug?
So, what is the diesel bug and how can you avoid it? Diesel bug or diesel fungus/algae is the term used for the contamination of diesel fuel in a boat or vehicle’s fuel tank. It is instigated by microbes such as fungi and bacteria, which appear due to the presence of water.
Microbial growth thrives in fuel lines that have even a tiny amount of water and carbon. Basically, every diesel tank has these. Water gets into any fuel tank due to rainwater seeping in or condensation of moisture in the environment.
These microbes create what looks like mats called biomass within the fuel tanks and can also coat the surfaces of the tanks, making something called biofilm.
Treatment of the tank can be done using biocides. However, any microbes that may be lying dormant in the corners of the tank will come to life once water gets into the tank. Therefore, it is better to prevent the bug from manifesting in the tank.
Importance of Testing Fuel
Testing your fuel helps keep the microbes out of your fuel tank. However, even without the fuel testing, some signs will show that there is a presence of diesel bug.
Diesel bug symptoms include:
- Poor engine performance would be caused by insufficient fuel getting to the engine.
- A notable increase in fuel consumption
- Change in the fuel composition or the degradation of fuel components
- In some cases, engine failure will take place
- Filter blockage
- Emissions from the vehicle exhaust
- Corrosion causing leaking fuel tanks
Any of these signs with your vehicle will show that significant damage has taken place in the car. Corrosion may also cause damage to the structural integrity of the vehicle’s fuel tank and injectors. Correcting the damage caused will be an expensive venture.
Diesel Bug Testing
Various tests can be carried out on your vehicle’s diesel fuel to suggest the existence of microbes in the tank. Many of these tests would require the fuel sample to be taken to a lab for further investigation. Results are usually out after about 72 hours.
A test called the Immunoassay antibody test is one of the fastest and easiest to distinguish the microbial organisms that may be in the fuel. The test only requires a test kit and can be carried out on-site, meaning the fuel samples need not be sent anywhere. The test results are also out within minutes and are easy to read. The resulting products come as green, orange and red depending on the level of diesel bugs in the fuel tank.
Effects of Diesel Bug on Fuel Filters and Fuel Systems
Diesel bug contamination will cause blocked filters and may clog up the injectors, causing issues with the fuel gauging systems. If the situation prolongs over a long period, there will be corrosion in the fuel system.
Diesel bug removal would require biocides, and in really severe cases, complete cleaning of the fuel tank may be necessary. Fuel polishing, total fuel write-off, or the downgrading of the diesel fuel are other options that can help handle the contamination.
Management of Diesel Bug Contamination
Once a test has been performed indicating microbial growth, then treatment would be the next course of action. This may be a costly affair moneywise and time-consuming, so prevention of contamination is always a better option.
Many treatment processes lead to downtime as they entail the complete emptying out of the fuel tank to clean it. This process can be expensive in the case of transport and logistics businesses and those that require the use of generators.
There are numerous biocides available in the market used in the diesel bug treatment process. These can be applied as a diesel bug filter or diesel bug killer and is cheaper than other alternatives.
The use of biodiesel in your vehicle or generator fuel tank instead of the regular diesel fuel helps prevent pollution of the diesel fuel tank and gives more life to filters, injectors and the engine itself. The ultimate performance of the engine parts then translates to lower fuel and maintenance costs.
Diesel Bug Wrap Up
With this knowledge of diesel bugs and their effects on your vehicle or generator, and eventually your finances, it would be advisable to carry out regular fuel tests. You may also want to periodically dose your fuel tank with biocides that would help prevent any contamination from occurring.