Black Algae/Fuel Tank Problem/Treatment--FYI

Black Algae/Fuel Tank Problem/Treatment--FYI

Black Algae/Fuel Tank Problem/Treatment--FYI

trucksaledave
13 November 2009
08:13 PM
In the last 3 months our shop has had 2 motorhomes and one OTR tractor towed in due to stopped up fuel filters.  Black algae that came off the fuel tank walls of both MH's.  The algae came off in black sheets.  I watched the process that the shop had to go thru to get the MH's back on the road.  Take the tanks off and clean them.  What a costly job with down time.

I am posting this so we can all remember to treat our diesel fuel with a good algaecide.  I run a diesel fuel treatment but not sure it fights algae.  With some of our rigs seeing limited duty and running old diesel until we fill up we must
treat. Look into your fuel tanks, if you can.  I can see all around in my tanks.  Treating your rig now is a lot less than a tow bill and $125.00 hour shop labor rates. JMO
trucksaledave

Dave W
13 November 2009
08:17 PM
What is a "good algaecide", any recommendation ?
Boogity
14 November 2009
06:24 AM
Excellent question.  I use a product called Bio-Kleen made by Power Service (the same company that makes other Diesel fuel additives we see on the shelves everywhere).  But I cannot find the Bio-Kleen anywhere.  I look for it at every stop and I have only found it in one truckstop in New Hampshire a few months ago.  I should have stocked up on it but it is very expensive (something like $16 per quart) and I didn't realize that it is so scarce.  We would probably do better if we could find an on-line supplier.

Here is a link to an interesting discussion on Diesel fuel algae.

trucksaledave
14 November 2009
08:17 AM
HDT's with Davco 380 glass bowl fuel filter can see what is being drawn up from the fuel tanks.  I think this is one of the best if not the best fuel filter for diesels.  I have this type.  Not sure how Bio Diesel is effected with this problem. Even the cleanest diesel is dirty and nasty. JMO
trucksaledave
Track
14 November 2009
12:48 PM
I found Power Service Products  My experience with the products has been very good.  Hope this helps.
SIBERNUT
14 November 2009
12:55 PM
Happens in boats a lot.  Moisture (condensate) in the tanks feeds it.  Why boaters are told to keep tanks full.  I have used "Biobor."  Try a marine supply like West, they probably have it or something similar
L'iil Black Dog
14 November 2009
01:16 PM
I worked in the marine industry for years and have tried lots of products, the best I have found is "Soltron"!  This product not only treats fuel for algae it also conditions the fuel for better combustion.  But please don't just take my word for it search internet results for more info.  This is the only additive I would continually use!  But I have tried Lowe's with good results.  Just my 2 cents!
Curt
ScottE
15 November 2009
02:29 AMM
I have a 50" Hatteras Sportfisher and religiously use BioBor algaecide in it.  It is sold at most marine chandleries and almost all fuel docks.  It's some of the best on the market, but it's not cheap.  One pint treats 300 gallons.  Highway trucks(other than RV use) should not ever need algaecide as the fuel doesn't sit stagnate long enough for growth, and any that is possibly introduced at fuel up is miniscule and is run through the system.
L'iil Black Dog
15 November 2009
10:57 PM
ScottE,
I have to add 2 more cents to this topic,  1) BioBor it is a great product if you just want to kill algae, now you have to contend with the bodies i.e. "black sludge" which leads to filter changes until the problem is solve.  If you are going to treat the fuel at least get some other benefit from the additive.  2) Any metal tank that goes thru 30 degree temperature swings is suspect to condensation/water, that is why boaters keep there tanks full during periods of
non use.  Full tanks = no bare tank surface for condensation to form.
Curt
RWinslow
16 November 2009
05:31 PM
A couple of corrections, first of all algae does not grow in fuel, bacteria can only grow where there is water or there is a water / diesel fuel emulsive layer.  Now - to confirm it is bacteria, it may feel slimy or be gelatinous in appearance.  It may also have rotten egg stench.  It will probably not be uniform in consistency or coloration and may have a colonized appearance.  To prove it is bacteria, mix some diesel and water pour some of this stuff in and set aside covered in a dark spot at room temperature for 3 to5 days - if its appearance changes or it grows, you are the proud papa of a thriving batch of bacteria.  And you need a bactericide.  Once the bacteria is removed, clean the tanks and or lines and keep the fuel dry.

However, if the subject equipment has recently been given a shot of bio diesel and it previously has not operated on bio diesel, then a black scum will also form.  Bio diesel is a very powerful diesel cleaning agent and it will remove the diesel asphaltines that have accumulated on your tank walls over the years.  The older the equipment the more prevalent this phenomena.  I know of one very large diesel shop in Idaho that uses Bio Diesel and Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel as a cleaning and soaking agent for their fuel system components.  Good news, this scum cleans up rather quickly, after a couple of tank fulls.

Operate your diesel equipment or keep the tanks full, if you do not use bio diesel regularly be aware of its 'potential additional benefits'.

Been there and done this allot . . . PM if you have any questions.

ScottE
17 November 2009
01:38 AM
Saying that what is referred to as "algae" is created by condensation is totally incorrect.  Diesel fuel that is left to stagnate in tanks(in as little as 60-90 days) breaks down much like gasoline does and creates the "algae" or salty crud at the bottoms of tanks.  The black, gooey, stringy stuff that occurs after sitting for long periods of time is actually the results of the fuel breaking down.  That slime is actually paraffin wax and asphaltenes.  It is more prevalent in todays fuel as a result of the refining process.  There is actually no live algae growing, as Winslow said, although bacteria and microbes do help accelerate the breakdown process.  The algaecides actually break up this mess and break it down so it can be filtered out.

Condensation in any tanks creates a big problem because the water cannot be atomized and burned in a diesel engine.  Boaters keep their fuel tanks full to avoid the condensation water which does major harm to the injectors and internal engine components such as heads, pistons, bearings, etc., and unlike vehicles, there's nowhere to pull over when your out to sea and the engines quit. it's a very deafening silence to be heard!  My boat has all fiberglass fuel tanks but condensation would be a real problem as I frequently go offshore as far as 100 miles, way out of radio range and definitely without cell service.  Having your engines shut down out there can be a real scary problem, and there's no AAA to come rescue you!  Having a 1000 gallon fuel capacity keeps me on my toes making sure it doesn't break down and harm my 2 Detroit 8V71TI engines or two 15K gensets.  I have to use fuel treatments and also regularly burn fuel to keep the tanks fresh.  I also have devises called Algae-X on the boat which help stop the process.  Boaters also do fuel polishing on boats that have complete tank access, and that completely removes any build up

L'iil Black Dog
18 November 2009
11:06 AM
I beg to differ gentlemen.  Algae grows in water in but feeds on fuel remember this stuff comes from plant matter and dinosaurs.  Degridated fuel does not turn black unless it's 1000 years old!  And yes I have seen the Algae-x product ( 2 opposing magnets that the fuel runs between).  And I have to ask if the Magnets are working so well, why are you using a biocide?  Algae or Bacteria, please do your own research.
Curt
RWinslow
18 November 2009
12:05 PM
Algae is a plant and needs light to grow.  I have had tests run on hundreds of these samples over the years and it is always bacterial.  Algae could conceivably grow if there was a light source in the fuel tank.  However a light source in a fuel tank leads to other problems like fire and explosion.

I refine diesel fuel for a living, trust me, it will turn black and it does not have to be 1000 years old.  The bacteria also produces byproducts of metabolism that will chemically break down the fuel.

ScottE
18 November 2009
03:42 PM
Curt
You can beg to differ all you want, but facts are facts.  Here's some links to do a bit of your own research.  Speaking through factual knowledge is great, as opposed to speaking through factual ignorance.  Asphaltenes, Diesel Fuel Algae" Causes and Effects, Filter Manufacturers Council, Dieselfuels.com

And to answer your question, I use BioBor JF biocide only in my boat to kill the microbes that speed up the fuel breakdown process.  I also have Algae-X and an on board fuel polishing system.  As i said, there's no shops, or help when your 100 miles or more offshore.  Your question is like asking why you carry a spare tire.  I use no other fuel treatments or lubricants in either the boat or my HDT. I've only been intimately involved with diesel engines in the trucking industry for 26 years, and as an ocean boater for 13 years, so I've still got a lot to learn, but I do know just a little bit.

Jeff- C IL
18 November 2009
04:16 PM
A question here: I s this a Marine issue more than a vehicle issue??  Are the humid conditions a marine engine operates in the main cause of this problem?  I farm in the Midwest, and if ANYBODY was to have this problem because of letting fuel sit around, I would think farmers would be the worst.  We let diesel sit around in low usage tractors for years sometimes, regularly let combines sit 10 months of the year, and often have storage tanks half full for months at a time.  Yet I have personally never talked to a farmer who has ever had this issue.  I know it does occur, but it is RARE.  We never have used any sort of additive regularly, and I have never had a engine failure caused to bad fuel.  In fact, I recently drained a storage tank that had not been drained or cleaned in 30 years and found No rust,  No water, No slime, no anything in it except a couple pebbles I dropped in as a little kid.  On the plus side, we buy fuel from a reputable fuel man.

Curious about why it seems that boaters worry about this more?!?

L'iil Black Dog
18 November 2009
05:56 PM
Well it is at this point, I accept that I will use my product and you will continue to use yours! Ignorance is bliss!
Curt
RWinslow
18 November 2009
07:05 PM
Bacterial growth in diesel fuel was associated with farm irrigation tankage back in the early 1970's in Nebraska and Kansas, one common denominator emerged, the tanks that had the most problems were all located in very humid climates (irrigated corn fields) and the tanks saw a significant change in temperature from day to night - meaning they breathed in a lot of very moist air.

For bacteria to grow in diesel fuel it must have water and proper temperature range - the bugs do not grow in the fuel but they actually live in the water or the water to fuel emulsion layer.  They feed off of the molecular components of the fuel.  If a tank is kept dry it will not support the growth of bacteria.  The bacteria can come from almost any source - contaminated fuel from the supplier, airborne, etc.

I have seen fuel tanks and filter separators on combines that would not show any problems with the fuel after sitting idle for 10 months.  The next year the same filter separator was loaded with bacterial slime but the tank was still fine.  On close examination the filter separator had a small amount of water in the bottom of the bowl.

A marine or subtropical environment would provide the highest probability of bacterial growth since the humidity and temperatures are in the ideal range.  (However a black tank in the tropical sun may reach high enough temp to
hinder bacterial growth.)  That being said, I have seen one filter separator in Alaska that was completely slimed up and the truck sat outside all winter in -40F temps.  Basically if the bacterial strain can survive and the conditions are favorable, growth will happen

Jeff- C IL
18 November 2009
07:17 PM
That would seem to make sense in my situation.  We keep our machinery shedded and have no real exposure to high humidity.  I've never had much water in the fuel on anything, so minimal chance at bacterial growth.

Keep the water separators drained, guys!