Data Centres and fuel contamination

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Posted: 5th February, 2016

From the onset of ULSD we have seen a steady increase in fuel contamination over the years post 2009 legislation kicking in. The new ULSD with FAME content has a shelf life and if not kept in check will result in many cases equipment downtime and equipment failure. The change in fuel has had an impact on emergency fuel powered generators used as back up for banks and data centres encase of power failure.

Modern diesel fuel for your emergency generators have a shelf life. If you do not regularly test and clean stored fuel you run the risk of engine failure and detrimental downtime at the critical point you need to run on standby generators.

In as little as three months stored fuel can become contaminated with microbial growth and water. Water is a particular problem for stored fuel generators.

Why is water a problem?
Water is heavier than diesel and tends to fall to the bottom of a fuel tank. Where water gathers a water layer is formed between the tank bottom and the fuel tank. The water layer or water phase is the substrate for microbial growth. Water will cause engine and fuel system failures and damage and promotes microbial growth in fuel systems.

Fuel contamination can be costly
If fuel is not regularly tested properly, cleaned and removed of contamination it can cause costly downtime of the generator and an immediate replacement in fuel and on top of this a potential loss of stored data.

How to effectively test fuel?
Best practice for fuel testing is to take a bottom, middle and top sample. This will provide the worst and best case in terms of the fuel quality in the fuel storage facility.

A visual test will be your first port of call, is the fuel clear and bright? If the sample has visible particulate, free water, microbial growth or is cloudy in appearance further testing will be required.

What action should I take?
Once you have established the level of contamination of the fuel we can then determine the corrective action. This may mean that the fuel needs to be filtered which could be insitu, or depending on the level of contamination removal of the fuel and tank entry may be required in severe cases of fuel contamination.

Fuel polishing
Immediate fuel polishing is required to stem contamination. Filtertechnik are the fuel polishing experts with over 20 experience specialising in the removal of contamination from fuels. Having installed many of our diesel fuel units within data centres we understand the problems that data centres are currently facing.

  • DFU family diesel polishing units

The DFU family offers the perfect option for critical applications. Our range of fuel polishing units range from 80 L/min – 1,000 L/min, offer an unparalleled removal of particulate and water, are versatile and easy to use.

For further information on how we can help you remove contamination from your fuel generator please click here for our world class range or alternatively email our technical team on