News & Insights

Keeping Diesel Fuel Viable During Cold Weather

December 19, 2014 | Posted in Blog

Diesel fuel is not immune to the effects of the cold. And with winter almost here, it’s important to know how to keep diesel fuel from gelling or developing ice formations while in storage.

Maintaining Diesel Fuel Viability During Cold Weather

Gelling of diesel fuel occurs during cold weather because the cold causes the wax in diesel fuel to gel together, making the fuel less viscous. This can cause it to block up fuel lines and clog tanks.

The fix for diesel fuel gelling comes from fuel distributors, who supply a winter blend of diesel that has a lower cloud point as well as additives, both of which are designed to prevent gelling. Insulating the storage tank where the fuel is held also helps keep the fuel from getting too cold.

As to why there is wax in diesel fuel, it’s because wax has a high cetane value, which is important in the composition of diesel.

Ice formation in diesel fuel occurs when the water has emulsified in the fuel. Freezing fuel can damage engines, fuel lines, and storage tanks, as well as compromise the viability of the fuel.

There are two solutions to this problem. First, a diesel fuel polishing system can be used to remove emulsified water from diesel fuel. Automated systems are available for this task. Fuel monitoring systems should also be used to determine the presence of water in the tank. If water is found to be in the tank, the tank should be inspected for leaks. Finally, it’s important to keep fuel tanks insulated, which prevents the fuel from getting too cold.

Insulating Storage Tanks

The photo below shows an insulated urea storage tank at the Equinix Data Center in Ashburn, Va. Urea (when combined with water known as DEF) is used to reduce the emissions of toxic compounds in diesel exhaust fumes. To learn more about diesel fuel, urea, and how to store these compounds safely, contact Tanks Direct today.

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