Fuel quality is critical for proper operation of new Tier 4 diesel enginesBy William Bernhard, AEM Technical and Safety Services Manager

Research told Pat Klaman of Barriere Construction in Louisiana that transitioning to equipment with new Tier 4 engines meant Barriere would need clean diesel.

Klaman, the company’s total process reliability manager, conducted a study to find out how often Barriere needed to change its on-board fuel filters. He was not happy with the results because they were not up to OEM-expected standards.

He then tested the condition of his diesel as it left on-site bulk tanks and mobile fueling trucks. The test results showed Klaman that he had serious problems with water and contamination in his diesel.

In this case, the situation was investigated and solved by a dealer for AEM member Donaldson Corporation, which specializes in filtration systems. The solution involved installation of both inlet and outlet filtration on Barriere’s bulk fuel tanks and mobile service trucks.

What happened to Barriere is just one example, but it typifies what many end-users running equipment with Tier 4 engines are up against. While the new engines reduce diesel emissions and protect our health and the environment, the fact is that they are rather finicky about fuel.

Without getting too technical (ahem!), the new engines feature high-pressure common-rail (HPCR) technology that uses extremely precise components. Water and other contaminants in the fuel can prematurely plug on-board filters or cause expensive damage to the engine itself.

Today’s fuel is Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) and it is very different from the diesel of just a few years ago. Among other things, it is subject to change and contamination as it moves from the refinery to the engine, making storage, temperature, age and filtration, among other things, highly critical factors in maintaining fuel quality.

About a year ago, a number of AEM member companies concerned about diesel fuel quality issues came to AEM to discuss their ideas for an end-user awareness initiative. A plan for this initiative has now been developed and approved, and will be implemented throughout the remainder of this year, so stay tuned!

I am pleased to have worked directly with member representatives on the diesel fuel quality issue from the very beginning. One of the strengths of AEM is the willingness of members at all levels to put aside their competitive differences and come together on an issue for the good of the industry. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of tech and safety.

I’d like to personally offer my thanks to all of the member representatives who volunteered their time and expertise to help compile and critique the information that was gathered on diesel fuel quality. We appreciate your support.

Check out AEM's CLEAN Campaign Toolkit here.