The Effects of Water in A Fuel Storage Tank

Keeping fuel storage tanks water free is critical to delivering quality fuel and to take proper care of your service station’s equipment.

When water creeps in, the potential for irreversibe damage climbs. It poses the risk of bacterial growth and corrosion that would contaminate the fuel, and if left untreated, the effects can be devastating.

Risks of Water Entry

Water typically enters fuel storage tanks through vent lines, faulty inlet caps or seals, tank integrity issues, tanker deliveries, significant rain events or even condensation. If a vent has a vacuum seal, moisture can still enter the tank when air pressure fluctuates during dispensing.

Microorganisms and bacteria are already present in most fuel types. They can enter by soil or air, through additives, polluted wash water, contaminated pipelines or from the biofilm present on tank walls. Water creates an optimal breeding ground for microbial bacteria, causing it to grow rapidly.

All petrol fuel grades are vulnerable to contamination, especially since the introduction of ethanol blended grades. However, diesel fuel is particularly vulnerable because of the reduction of allowable sulfur levels. It attracts acidobacteria, a specific type of bacteria that feeds on ethanol.

If contaminated fuel goes untreated, fuel storage tanks can build up rust and debris, block dispenser filters, or interrupt volume delivery. If a customer experiences these problems, it’s likely to lose their business and the revenue they would otherwise produce. Preventive and active measures to keep your tanks clean are necessary to avoid major equipment and revenue loss and protect your reputation.

How To Remove Water

As soon as the water is spotted in the tank, it’s crucial to remove it immediately. To do so, pump the existing fuel into a holding tank and sweep the entire floor from all access points. Once the fuel settles, it is much easier to remove it from the holding tank and return it to the storage tank. This way you’ll be able to salvage as much fuel as possible.

Afterwards, clean the tank of any rust or sludge that may have built up. Cleaning the tank and filtration and conditioning and polishing the fuel helps eliminate contamination and restore fuel quality.

Take Preventative Measures

There are simple steps you can take to avoid contamination and disaster, including:

  1. Taking samples of the fuel every month: Fuel samples should be taken about every 30 days after delivery disturbs the bottom of the tank to ensure accurate readings.
  2. Inspect the bottom of the tank: Taking samples directly from the bottom gives an accurate finding if there is water or hazy fuel.
  3. Spot potential points of free water entry: Free water can enter through faulty inlet caps, seals, or compromised tank/line integrity.
  4. Treat Fuel with Biocide additive: Biocide treatment on an ‘as needed’ basis restores fuel integrity.

Fuel storage tanks that are properly cared for are a necessity for your business to have efficient fuel sales and for customers to have a positive and trustworthy experience. Taking preventative measures or properly removing water will ensure longevity and health of your fuel storage tank system.

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