Microbes in diesel fuel has been an almost non existent until recently. In the areas that these microorganisms are commonly found they are referred to as fuel bugs. Even those who have heard of them have very little knowledge of this costly problem. There are over 100 types of bugs that can live in fuel including not only algae but also bacteria and fungus. Diesel is not the only one with the problem. Gasoline has recently been experiencing problems as well. These bugs feed on the oil in the fuel and use the water in the fuel for their oxygen supply. They grow in your fuel at different rates and can easily cost thousands of dollars in damage to each contaminated vehicle. The spread of this problem is alarming considering that you can contaminate a clean system just by using a fuel nozzle that has been in a contaminated tank. Check for contamination yourself with our do it yourself microbial test kit.
One of the results of this problem is a slime or sludge ranging from green to brown or black in color. This slime will plug your fuel filters and fuel system components. Check your filter yourself with our filter cutting tool. It’s quick, easy and clean. Bacterial sludge fouls and destroys fuel injectors and pumps. Algae will also cling to the inside of your tanks and hold onto the water inside making it impossible to drain the water. This causes rust problems and tank decay. Vehicles with a severe problem will notice a drastic reduction in economy and power. Less severe problems will result in the same effects but in less noticeable amounts. The reason for these reductions are due to the microbes clogging your pumps and injectors and corroding your injector orifices causing an uneven spray pattern. This causes an incomplete burn in your combustion chambers resulting in hot spots and a damaging accumulation of deposits.
Why do we see an increase in algae? There can be many answers to this question. These microorganisms need warm fuel to flourish and grow but cold temperatures will not kill them, they simply hibernate in the cold. Cold winters are one of the reasons that we have seen so few algae problems in the colder climates. We have a very short growing season for these critters. Some of them do grow at a tremendous rate so we are not immune to the problem. In diesel fuel we have increased the use of fuel heaters giving these bugs the ability to thrive all year long. Condensation creates more water in a fuel system than we give it credit for. Diesel also holds more water today than it did just a few years ago due to the growing use of cracked fuel. This provides an excellent oxygen supply for these critters. Trucks that travel cross country on a regular basis subject themselves to all kinds of fuel related problems. If this isn’t enough the new low sulfur diesel also promotes the growth of algae. Reducing the sulfur also reduces the aromatic content. California requires a very low aromatic level. The problem with this is that the microbes eat the aromatics and are satisfied quickly but if they are not present the bugs eat and eat and eat whatever they can get there mouths on and become very proliferate.
What can you do? It is impossible to scrub or wash away this problem. It must be killed with a product designed for that purpose . Even after bugs have been killed, the remains of the dead growth will continue plugging filters and fuel system components for some time. A biocide is designed to kill large amounts of microbes, but biocides are like a rat poison. One pound of poison is only going to kill so many rats. Once it is gone the rats continue to grow. Biocides are consumed in the same way. Using PFS diesel conditioners will speed up the cleaning process and help protect against reinfection. For information on treating a microbial problem please contact us at our toll free technical support number or If you suspect a problem with your fuel please call us at 1-888-PFS-PROS. We can check your fuel and suggest a solution that will work for your situation. Make sure that you check out our Understanding Fuel Bugs article for more detailed information.