What is the Diesel Bug and How Can You Avoid It?

There are many different types of bacteria that can live in fuel. These microbes that live at the interface between water and diesel are commonly referred to as the diesel bug. When you work within any industry that manages fleets and deals with fuel, knowing what this bug is, what causes it and how it can be avoided is key to keeping your fleet in tip-top shape and running as smooth as possible.

It is an increasing problem for the UK transport industry, however, it can be avoided with a few precautions, and knowing what causes it. In fact, your fuel storage tanks can help with this growing issue, but how?

The microbes that live at the interface between water and diesel are commonly referred to as the diesel bug

What is the Diesel Bug?

The diesel bug is the name for the microbial contamination within diesel fuel. Diesel fuel tends to contain up to 7% biodiesel – this is great for the environment but not always a great solution for any business who need to store fuel.

Biodiesel is hygroscopic. This means it holds and attracts water more than other fuels which is bad news for diesel. The attraction of water encourages the growth of the diesel bug and can lead to gums and resins which can stick to the side of your fuel storage tank, even causing layers of build-up inside the tank.

When the industry used petrochemical diesel rather than biodiesel, there were fewer problems as it does not attract water the way biodiesel does. The diesel bug thrives from any amount of water when met with biodiesel. Therefore, it is vital that no water gets into your fuel storage tank.

What Can the Diesel Bug Do to Your Fuel?

Did you know that 8 out of 10 diesel engines failures are related to contaminated fuel?

The diesel bug can clog filters in the vehicle, corrode fuel storage tanks, wreck engines, and even leave you powerless out on the road. Your fuel can be your most valuable asset after your fleet and you need to make sure it is always of the best quality.

If your turnover of fuel is quick and your fleets are filling up constantly, you are less likely to have this problem, however, if your fuel is allowed to stand for a longer period of time, it becomes the perfect environment for contamination.

How Can You Prevent the Diesel Bug?

The key to avoiding the diesel bug growing and keeping high-quality fuel in your tanks is good housekeeping. However, cleaning and maintenance can be a costly and inconvenient solution. Your fuel storage tank should have a filter system installed and be of the highest standard possible to ensure your fuel stays in a usable state.

While all types of fuel can deteriorate over time, diesel tends to occur these types of issues when it reacts with oxygen from the air.

Most water in the fuel tank is a result of condensation as a mixture of heat and water – typically from a poor-quality fuel storage tank.

The key to avoiding the diesel bug growing and keeping high-quality fuel in your tanks is good housekeeping

Your storage system for your fuel should be as seal tight as possible to prevent any contamination, however, there are several other steps you can take to lengthen the lifespan of your fuel:

  • Check your fuel is not in contact with zinc, copper and metal alloys which can react with your fuel
  • Establish a regular fuel maintenance plan to remove water, debris, and dirt
  • Regularly inspect tanks for damage and leaks
  • Ensure a regular turnover of fuel. Fuel bug colonies grow if allowed to stagnate, if fuel is moving constantly they do not get the opportunity to grow.
  • Monitor vehicle issues to catch any recurring issues or early signs

Our equipment can monitor each product through each pump. Real-time information regarding all fuel can be transmitted to the fleet manager automatically, meaning you can keep track of your fuel wherever, whenever.

Combine the high quality of our fuel storage tanks with the precision of our systems, we can eliminate any fuel discrepancies, including the dreaded diesel bug.

Get in touch with Fueltek today to find out more.