Beating the Diesel Bug…
FUELSTAT® Diesel Test Kits – For rapid, accurate and onsite detection of microbial contamination in Diesel and Biodiesel fuels. The FUELSTAT test kits (Part number FMD8) are sold in boxes of 8 single use tests per box and are designed to supersede the IP385 microbial test done in the labs.
The FUELSTAT tests for all 31 known harmful microbes that grow in diesel/biodiesel/aviation fuels – with results in just 10 minutes, not 2-7 days as with the labs and other test kits.
The FUELSTAT test kits are sold worldwide but here in Australia and in NZ the test kits are used by BP, Shell (Viva), Caltex and Mobil, Australia Defence Force and Customs + smaller fuel companies, as well as many industrial, mining, agricultural and marine companies + over 335 Airlines worldwide including Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Diesel and the ‘Diesel Bug’
All forms of middle distillate fuels like diesel and aviation Jet A1 are susceptible to microbiological contamination. Fuel contamination is usually the result of a consortium of organisms acting together. These microorganisms usually include bacteria and moulds (fungi & yeasts).
Whilst there are around 125 organisms known to grow in middle distillate fuels, only 31 have the potential to cause problems in diesel. Some of the more common ones found are the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica.
However, the most dangerous is a fungi called Hormoconis resinae or H.res. Known in the past as Cladosporium resinae this organism is better known as the “Diesel Bug” because of its ability to cause so much disruption and damage. These days however the collection of microbes as a whole is commonly referred to as the “Diesel Bug”.
There is more detail on ‘the Diesel Bug’ and ‘FAQ’ pages on the side menu.
FUELSTAT® Diesel Test Following the huge success of their aviation tests Conidia Bioscience introduced its fast, accurate on-site FUELSTAT® Diesel Test for microbial contamination in marine and land based diesel fuels in December 2010. This 10 minute, pregnancy style test is easy to use and interpret, requires no special skills, equipment or specialist disposal (except the fuel sample itself). This means that you only need a pair of gloves, a flat surface and a fuel and/or water sample to find out which microbes are growing in your fuel and at what level. These levels include (negligible, moderate or heavy) and correspond directly with the actions that are needed to remedy the situation.
Negligible levels indicates that no further action is required
Moderate contamination indicates the use of a treatment procedure is required
Heavy contamination indicates major intervention is required. This usually involves draining and cleaning the tank and fuel system, and either discarding or polishing the fuel before it can be returned to the tank.
Note: If the contamination has been there for some time the injectors, fuel lines and tank(s) may have become clogged or corroded. Extensive corrosion has been known to require complete fuel system replacement.
A good fuel cleanliness program, involving regular water draining, and at least bi-annual testing (with treatment in line with test results) are the key to keeping the problem of microbial contamination under control.
Marine – Commercial, Defence and Recreational
Deep sea shipping, in both the commercial and defence sectors, often utilises HFO (heavy fuel oil) for at-sea navigation. This heavy fuel (bunker oil) is not usually subject to the same microbial infestation issues, although there is worldwide governmental pressure to decrease emissions by restricting the use of this grade of fuel in favour of diesel particularly close to major land masses. Often vessels store and carry large volumes of diesel for use when in coastal waters. This fuel can become heavily contamination in a short space of time and requires regular monitoring to avoid an infection taking hold.
Conventional marine engines, mains, gen sets etc use standard ULS diesel, which carries the same microbial contamination risk as all other grades of military and commercially available diesel fuel. With long periods of inaction recreational craft suffer considerably more than most, with engineers often only seeing the vessel once a year for servicing. While testing of the fuel can and should be carried out at this time bi-annual testing to stay on top of any contamination is highly recommended. After all, unexpected engine shutdowns normally at the most inopportune time can be frustrating and time consuming at best, but also dangerous or even catastrophic at worst!
In Europe, from January 2011 the risk of microbial contamination has increased as a result of the introduction of the latest EU Fuel Quality Standard for Gas Oil Requirements. This latest standard applies to Non-Mobile Road Machinery, including not-at-sea marine applications i.e. in-land waterways, navigable rivers, lakes etc. The standard requires reduced sulphur and increased Biofuel levels in diesel. This new fuel specification is more susceptible to ‘bug’ growth due to its higher water content and the reduced sulphur level – Sulphur can control the growth of microbes, where as water is essential for microbial growth.
Biofuel (Biodiesel) Regulations coming into the market particularly in Australia will mean the same issues with microbial contamination will be just as prevalent if not more so with the additional heat. Housekeeping and increased levels of fuel hygiene mean better monitoring of fuel is required. The fast, accurate and easy to use FUELSTAT® Test can provide you with a simple on-site check to establish whether your fuel remains “Fit for Purpose” and ready for use.
Please refer to the side bar menus for more in-depth information.
Land – Vehicles, Mobile Equipment and Fixed Plant
Conidia Biosciences’ multi-organism FUELSTAT® tests will have benefits for fleet managers and operators in the vehicle, mobile equipment, fixed plant and power generation industries. Microbial contamination (Diesel Bug) is an issue for land based fuels just as it is for the marine and aviation industries. Going forward, as more diesel fuel suppliers include biofuels, which are more susceptible to microbial contamination than traditional hydrocarbon fuels, problems will increase due to the hygroscopic (water ingress) nature of these new types of fuel blends. The FUELSTAT® tests will allow engineers and maintenance staff to assess the presence of dangerous organisms, including aerobic bacteria, fungi (moulds & yeasts) and the “Diesel Dug” Hormoconis resinae (H.res). Set to operational limits for the marine and land vehicle industries, the test will allow real time decisions to be made on the state of the fuel tanks – and more importantly – whether or not the fuel is “Fit for Purpose” and suitable for uplift from a supplier.
Fuel Storage & Retail Outlets
Conidia Biosciences’ suite of FUELSTAT® tests will have benefits for those managing or monitoring fuel storage facilities at terminals, airports (aviation fuels), commercial sites or retail facilities such as service station forecourts and truck stops. The tests will allow engineers and maintenance staff to assess the presence of dangerous organisms and deal with them before they can become an issue downstream. Set to operational limits for the marine, land and aviation industries, the tests will allow real time decisions to be made on the state of the fuel storage system – or more importantly – whether the fuel is in a “Fit for Purpose” state and therefore suitable for uplift by customers.
Sulphate Reducing Bacteria (SRB)
In response to requests from marine, land and aviation customers alike, Conidia Bioscience has started development of an easy to use test kit to target the issue of SRB contamination – that is infestation by anaerobic microbes. SRB’s are normally found at the bottom of the tank, in the sludge that builds up over time. Often seen in long term storage, military and commercial shipping. Conidia Bioscience is hoping to introduce the next addition to the test range in 2018.