Clean Fuel and Lube Solutions Webinar: Why Fuel Filters Plug?

Watch the webinar

Donaldson Filtration Solutions | February 3, 2016

How the game has changed: causes of increased incidents of filter plugging and engine problems, including discussion of the differences between the modern engine and older engines and why the modern engine cannot tolerate the same fuel that the older engine could, and why biodiesel and fuel additives can also increase incidence of filter plugging.

  • NCW&M voted down proposal to mandate 10 micron diesel fuel filters (currently uses 30 micron for diesel and 10 micron for gasoline)
  • But things have changed - diesel engines have dramatically changed –
    • Up until 1970s, pressures used to be 1,500-5,000 psi (pressure washer) & tolerant of fine particulate; latest high-tech gasoline direct injection are running up to 1750 psi;
    • From 1980s to early 2000s, diesel fuel injection systems were running from 13,000 to 23,000 psi and were still tolerant of fine particulate (anything under 7-10 microns and larger)
    • Mid 2000s to present (HPCR) run in pressure ranges from 30,000-45,000 psi and beyond; much more sensitive to very find particulate (as small as 2 microns – yeast or bacteria)
  • High pressure needed to meet current emissions requirements; injectors require protection from even smallest particulate
  • 5% of particulate are 6 microns or larger and the rest is below
  • Refinery fuel will not cause problems in older engines, but same fuel is 16x dirtier than modern HPCR engine can handle and needs significant filtering; typical fuel passed through pipelines, terminals and trucks, needs 4-8X reduction in debris for older engine and 64-128X reduction in debris for modern engines – dirt concentration is maximum contaminate guideline in worldwide fuel charter (ISO code 18/16/13) – there is talk about pushing for reduction of this maximum due to continued field operability issues at this cleanliness level
  • Poor quality fuel needs a 16-32X reduction in debris for older engines and 256-512X for new engines
  • Fuel on higher end of contamination would be 64x dirtier for older engines and 1024X dirtier for newer engines
  • “Clear and bright” standard is not enough
  • Cold weather operation can have severe impact on engine operability - filtration of fine particulate cannot happen at or below cloud point – at that point, fuel generates many 1000s of times more wax particles size of hard particulate and plugs filters immediately, adding cold flow improvers will make it worse by making more fine solids as it is designed to do (addition of cold flow improver is done to allow fuel as it cools toward cloud point to pass through course screens and pumps not high efficiency filters)
  • Biodiesel blends have increased potential to create solids compared to ULSD as they are blended and cool in fall or winter conditions or pick up water in distribution; as B100 or blends drop toward cloud point, more likely to create fine solids that do not dissolve back into solution when warmed like ULSD waxes do
  • Additive and contaminant reactions can also create ultrafine particulate which clog filters
  • Fuel coming from refinery is generally very clean and meets standards; each time fuel is moved or pumped it picks up more debris
  • Takeaway: high efficiency filters are necessary at time of fuel offload or as it is pumped into equipment

Read more on other literature review summary.