Determining Degradation in Your Fuel

Fuel prices have been at an all-time low, the global pandemic had slowed down the economy, winter’s grip is lessening, you have weathered 2020 … has your fuel?

Fuel can degrade in storage while waiting for use and environmental conditions, water and bio duel blends can accelerate that degradation in your fuels.

What Is Diesel Fuel Degradation?

All diesel fuel degrades. The oxidative instability in diesel fuel creates fuel degradation materials like sediments and acids. These materials can result in hard particulate formation, corrosion, filter clogging and damage to fuel pumps and injector through deposits. The consequences can include increased maintenance issues, poor fuel economy, diminished performance and poor combustion quality resulting in issues like black smoke and difficulty starting, or even complete mechanical failure.

How to Avoid Diesel Fuel Degradation?

Most times, you’re not aware of how long your fuel may have been in storage, whether it’s for a short or considerable amount of time, the potential for fuel degradation is increasing.

What steps can you take to avoid or minimize it? It starts with understanding your fuels current state.

  1.  Test Your Fuel | Testing can help you know where your fuel stands. Understanding water contamination, biodiesel levels, cleanliness levels and degradation tendencies of the fuel.
  2. Understand Your Storage Tank Levels | Low fuel levels in a storage tank allows the formation of condensate. When you top off your diesel fuel storage tank, make sure you leave about 10-15 percent space on the top to minimize the condensation and to allow your fuel to react safely with changes in temperature.
  3. Keep a clean tank | Ensure draining your tank of settled water or clean your tank regularly so that there are fewer particles present that can cause a reaction with hour fuel.

To learn more about keeping your fuel clean, monitor degradation and keep it in usable condition, see our Technical Bulletin Verify Fuel Specs with ULSDF Testing, linked below.

Verify Fuel Specs with ULSDF Testing

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Published February 16, 2021

Monitor Biodiesel Content with FAME Testing

If you’re in the fuel industry, or store diesel to refuel your vehicles/machinery on site, then it’s likely you’ve heard about the increasing level of biodiesel and Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) content. What problems can it cause and how do we overcome them?

Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME)

One of the reasons for Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) use in biodiesel instead of free fatty acids is to nullify any corrosion that free fatty acids would cause to the metals of engines, production facilities and so forth. Free fatty acids are only mildly acidic but, in time, can cause cumulative corrosion unlike their esters.

Water is All Life” I’m sure you have all heard that phrase. For biodiesel blends it is more than true – it’s detrimental. The methyl esters in biodiesel are hygroscopic, meaning they can absorb considerably more moisture than petroleum-derived diesel and hold this in suspension in the fuel. When water is able to contaminate diesel, it provides conditions suitable for microbial growth and can lead to molds, yeasts and bacteria spreading throughout the fuel.

What is FAME?
  • FAME is bio-degradable and is an ideal source of nutrients for microbes
  • If contamination is left untreated, it can damage the fuel permanently
  • Petroleum-derived fuels absorb considerably less moisture by comparison and tend to shed water as a separate layer at the bottom of storage tanks
  • Acting as a detergent, it cleans any residual dirt or impurities from the tank walls and pipework it passes through, which ultimately end up in the fuel itself. This can lead to clogged filters and failed diesel fuel reports for cleanliness.
Types of FAME

Another factor in bio content, it is the type of FAME blended into the fuel, which can be very problematic. Biodiesel produced from soybeans, which is more common in the U.S. than in Europe, and is particularly problematic. Soybean Methyl Esther has a lower oxidation stability than biodiesel produced from other feedstock. Yet biodiesel has been a major boon to soybean farmers and they’ve been a major force behind raising the blend requirements. Biodiesel made from animal fat (tallow) has a higher level of saturates meaning it is more prone to waxing/gelling. It begins to crystallize at higher temperatures than bio made from vegetables oils, making your fuel appear cloudy and your filters clog. This higher cloud point makes the use of such biodiesel less suitable in the winter, which can further issues experienced when the cold months arise.

Why is BioDiesel Dilution Problematic?

Biodiesel Fuel Dilution can be a problem. Because biodiesel has a higher flash point than petroleum diesel, the biodiesel does not combust allowing the biodiesel to collect inside the crankcase of the engine itself and turn to sludge. This crankcase sludging is irreversible and over time can lead to catastrophic engine failure.

Learn more about biodiesel testing offered by POLARIS Laboratories® by downloading our technical bulletin Biodiesel Testing Ensures Quality below.

Biodiesel Testing Ensures Quality, Detects Potential Filter Plugging Problems

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Published February 4, 2021

3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Shipping Delays

Sample. Ship. Results. Action!

The holidays are approaching faster than ever and we’ve recently heard from shipping carriers that it’s going to be a very busy holiday shipping season. Carriers all over the globe are seeing a surge in the number packages shipped daily.

We know how vital your sample results are when faced with making tough maintenance decisions and we want to help you prepare to navigate this busy time to eliminate your equipment’s downtime.

The good news is, we’re providing a few steps you can take now to help beat the holiday shipping rush!

1. Pre-order Kits and Supplies

Place orders for sample kits now. Having a back stock of sample jars on hand for when equipment is scheduled for its upcoming preventive maintenance makes it simple and convenient to pull your samples. Don’t forget to add tubing, vacuum pumps, prepaid postage and valves to your cart!

 

2. Implement a Shipping Strategy

Get those important samples taken and send them on their way to the closest laboratory as soon as you can (click here to see all of our locations). Timing is everything these days and, if you plan accordingly, you can avoid your package being delayed by this season’s holiday shipping surge. Also, be sure to utilize carriers who offer a trackable shipping service to our laboratory doors. This way you know when your package arrives for processing.

 

3. Communication

Team communication is very important as well this holiday season. Make sure your team is prepared to ship samples out to a laboratory location closest to them as soon as they can (click here for a guide on How to Ship Samples). In addition, make sure they know that they can purchase prepaid UPS labels on the online store when ordering kits. These pre-paid labels are perfect for a 10-pack of samples and are designed to reduce packaging preparation time so you can get your samples on their way to the laboratory.

While these are unprecedented times, POLARIS Laboratories® is continually looking for ways to save you time and money this holiday season.

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Published November 24, 2020

New Year: New Goals | 5 Tips to Regain Your Program

The new decade started with 2020 being a year we will not soon or easily forget. Many things were thrown out of sequence and activities were either cancelled or deferred.

If maintenance was one of those activities affected, the following may help in regaining control.

  • Take an inventory of your equipment and condition
  • Identify or reassess the importance (criticality) of each equipment in your processes
  • Dust off and review maintenance records of each individual piece of equipment
  • Identify specific needs for each piece of equipment

If fluid analysis is one tool you use to assess equipment conditions, then consider these:

  1. Collaborate with your Technical Business Consultant | Identify specific actions/activities that will enhance the impact of a well-managed fluid analysis program
  2. Audit your Equipment List | Complete any missing information and move inactive equipment to a mothball account
  3. Review your Users | Assess your list of active users and add new or remove those that are no longer needed
  4. Determine Training Needs | Identify gaps and schedule appropriate sessions and topics
  5. Develop and Participate in a Program Review | Program reviews highlight areas where the program is being successful, as well as those needing improvement. Specific equipment in need of attention can be identified as well.

If you are ready to refocus your maintenance and fluid analysis, contact your POLARIS Laboratories® Technical Business Consultant for assistance in reviewing your maintenance practices so you can take your fluid analysis program to the next level.

POLARIS Laboratories® Technical Business Consultants:

Henry Neicamp

hneicamp@polarislabs.com

Connect with Henry on LinkedIn

Julio Acosta

jacosta@polarislabs.com

Connect with me on LinkedIn

 

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Published October 13, 2020

Elemental Analysis Testing: Add it to Your Engine Coolant Report

Is Elemental Analysis Testing Included in Your Engine Coolant Report?

Do you get a physical every year? How about a routine blood test? Elemental Analysis is similar to having your blood drawn for a yearly physical. Just as the bloodwork will provide more details to your physician on how your body is functioning, the elemental analysis testing will provide more details on the equipment’s overall system health. If elemental analysis testing isn’t included in your routine fluid analysis, information regarding corrosion/wear, contamination and certain fluid properties will not be able to be monitored. Cooling system concerns are a leading factor to how well the equipment effectively can perform. Adding elemental analysis testing will identify corrosion, mechanical issues, contamination and other possible fluid properties in the sample.

With majority of engine failures traced back to cooling system, predominantly due to overheating events, proper coolant analysis testing should be performed on all samples. When proper testing is not included, the missing information will hinder the laboratory’s maintenance recommendations as the possible root cause for concerns may not be identified. Ultimately, not identifying the root cause will lead to higher downtimes and engine failures.

How to Add Elemental Analysis

Reach out today to review if your fluid analysis program includes the proper testing that will best benefit your program. Including elemental analysis testing within your program will help identify if concerns are present in the cooling system. When specific issues are identified correction can be performed to reduce further potential damage to the equipment. Elemental analysis testing should be included on all samples submitted to the laboratory as this testing will provide critical information regarding the equipment’s overall system health. Catching early system concerns and performing proper corrections will assist with maintaining proper cooling system function reducing unexpected downtimes and engine failures.

Check out our Technical Bulletin to find out more information on the Benefits of Elemental Analysis Testing on Engine Coolants. 

Download the Technical Bulletin

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Published October 8, 2020

Program Enrichment Review: It’s Not Just Data, It’s What You Do With It

Today’s fluid analysis capabilities offer a great deal more than just monitoring component health. With today’s technology, along with performing the proper tests, we can:

  • Monitor the condition of the oil
  • See if it is suitable for continued use
  • Reduce the amount of used oil disposal
  • Adjust maintenance intervals and strategies
  • Adjust component replacement schedules
  • Improve forecasting and budgeting
  • Increase component life hours

With all of this in mind, it begs the question, how can we be sure to maximize the return on investment from fluid analysis?  I believe the answer to this question is a Program Enrichment Review. Let’s take a look at some of the features/benefits of a Program Enrichment Review and what it can do with your data:

Pareto Principle

A “Pareto Principle” approach identifies the components that are contributing to the majority of high severity reports and helps identify corrective actions for your maintenance team. Let me share with you how POLARIS Laboratories® was able to use this principle to help a coal mining customer (see figure 1 below).  Using Pareto Charts, POLARIS Laboratories® was able to determine that out of the 87 component types on file, only 11 component types were accounting for 80% of the high severity (3’s & 4’s) reports. By using additional Pareto Charts (not shown), POLARIS Laboratories® was able to identify the coal mine’s biggest problem was abrasive contaminants (ie. coal dust, dirt, etc.). By focusing the maintenance team’s efforts on these 11 component types, and using filter carts, kidney loop filtering, seal replacement, etc., the coal mine was able to address the abrasive contaminants issue and thereby realize a 6% reduction high severity reports over a 6 month period.  The head of the maintenance team made the following statement about their fluid analysis program: “Guys, where can we spend a dollar today and get this kind of return on investment when it comes to protecting our equipment and extending its life cycle?”

Figure 1

Typical Data Shared in a Program Enrichment Review

  • Sample volume (i.e. total number of samples submitted per quarter)
  • High severity reports (severity 3’s & 4’s / scale of 0-4) by region, location, asset, etc.
  • Identify issues via Pareto charts (i.e. 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes)
  • Scatter plots – help determine optimum drain intervals via key performance indicators (e.g. viscosity, acid number, base number, oxidation, fuel dilution, soot loading, etc.)
  • HORIZON® web-based management reports (e.g. Problem Summary Report, Severity Summary Report, Data Analysis Report, Action Taken Summary Report – ROI, etc.)
  • Scorecards (i.e. Component Compliance, Sampling Frequency Compliance, High Severity %, Shipping Time, etc.)
  • Technical Business Consultant’s subject matter expertise (i.e. observations & recommendations)

Quarterly Program Enrichment Reviews

Delivering the Program Enrichment Review via a quarterly virtual meeting with the customer’s “Program Champion” and maintenance team will serve as a venue to share both challenges and best practices associated with their fluid analysis program and maintenance “best practices”.

It’s Not Just Data, It’s What You Do With It!

Maximize asset reliability and regain control of your production schedules with an effective fluid analysis program by POLARIS Laboratories® . . . it costs so little to protect so much.

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Published September 22, 2020

How to Stay Afloat: Tips to Increase the Value of Your Fluid Analysis Program

A properly executed oil analysis program delivers operational cost savings while increasing component life and reducing time between scheduled and unscheduled equipment overhauls. An oil analysis program can also address safety concerns and minimize risk to personnel and assets.

The goal of an oil analysis program is to become more proactive, less reactionary and to conduct maintenance and repairs at a lower level of intervention. Such practices can reduce labor costs, spare parts and oil consumption. In turn, this decreases urgent demands on the supply chain to replenish lubricating oil or spare parts.

Oil Analysis + Planned Maintenance

Linking the right oil analysis program with the right planned maintenance program will allow you to generate better work orders based on precise oil analysis conditions and laboratory recommendations. This will lead to improved maintenance actions and more accuracy in spare parts purchase orders and lubrication inventory.

Moving to a steady state where planned maintenance is associated with an oil analysis program across multiple ships reduces the pressure and stress on engineering staff. Data collection across multiple vessels and across like-for-like equipment creates a view of what’s happening now and what happened in the past. This insight especially the past conditions, is useful in forming a plan to reduce or even eliminate certain recurring oil conditions.

It Starts with Ownership

A successful oil analysis program begins with everyone involved in the program taking ownership. From the engineer taking samples, to other engineering team members carrying out appropriate, timely maintenance actions. Knowing where in the system to sample, and sampling consistently each time from the designated sample point under the same operating conditions, is crucial to program success.

Create a Feedback Loop

Maintaining a constant, positive approach to your oil analysis program will reward you with a measurable return on your oil analysis program investment. In time, this will serve as a feedback loop for program self-improvement and increased equipment reliability.

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Published September 10, 2020

Do You Have the Right Coolant Testing?

Providing a Greater Understanding

Do you have an extended life coolant? Did you know that mechanical and/or contamination can occur causing the extended life coolant properties to decrease and reduce the life of the fluid? Have you ever had an unknown coolant formulation in the cooling system and a coolant top off was needed? Including High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) testing to your program will provide the additional information to assist with providing a greater understanding of your fluid properties. When HPLC testing is included in your coolant test package, additional coolant inhibitors that may be in the coolant formulation will be monitored. Results for the inhibitors will be reported in parts per million.

What is High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) Testing?

HPLC testing will report two different inhibitor types:

  1. Carboxylic organic acids
    • These acids will be utilized in extended life coolant formulations and hybrid formulations. The inhibitors will provide corrosion protection of the metals in the cooling system. The corrosion protection inhibitors needed for your application and formulation must be maintained and adequate to protect your cooling system.
    • There are a lot of different organic acids that may be used in the coolant formulation. Understanding the coolant formulation is a key factor in maintaining the coolant appropriately.
    • Carboxylic organic acids our method reports:
      • Benzoic Acid
      • Sebacic Acid
      • 2-Ethylhexanoic Acid
      • Octanoic Acid
      • P-Toluic Acid
      • Adipic Acid
      • 4-Tert-Butylbenzoic Acid
  2. Azoles
    • Azoles may be utilized in any coolant formulation on the market. Azole inhibitors are for copper and brass protection in the coolant formulation.
    • Azoles our method reports:
      • Benzotriazole (BZT)
      • Tolytriazole (TTZ)
      • Mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT)

HPLC Compared To Test Strip

HPLC testing will provide more insight of the type of inhibitors in the coolant formulation compared to a pass/fail carboxylic acid test strip. Test strips are subjective as a color determination is usually the indicator for the result. Test strips will only work for certain coolant formulations determined by what the test strip is looking for. Whereas HPLC testing can be performed on any coolant formulation and report each of the organic acids and azoles the method is able to report in ppm. The HPLC testing will indicate concerns of mixing coolant formulations when compared to a baseline. HPLC testing will also help determine if carboxylic organic acids and azoles are utilized in the coolant formulation or not. A test strip will not be able to provide this information and may or may not be applicable for the coolant formulation providing an inaccurate result making more difficult to maintain your fluid appropriately.

Reach out today! Add High Pressure Liquid Chromatography testing to your program.

Including HPLC testing to your program will provide testing to determine if organic acids and azole inhibitors, utilized in some coolant formulations, are being maintained for proper protection.
HPLC testing will provide more insight on how to maintain the coolant formulation and will determine if concerns are present impacting your corrosion protection inhibitors. Catching concerns early and making corrections will lower corrosion concerns and even possible cooling system issues that could have led to engine problems.

Check out our Technical Bulletin to find out more information on how High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) Testing works:

Download

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Published September 8, 2020

Ion Chromatography Testing Can Catch Cooling System Concerns Early

Have you received a recurring action on your coolant analysis report? Are you noticing recurring concerns with your pH, corrosion metals, and/or inhibitor depleting rapidly? Have you ever topped off the system with water only?

With basic coolant testing a piece of the puzzle to help identify the root cause of the concern in the cooling system may be missing. Basic testing will identify concerns and provide recommendations however, there may still be more going on in the system that basic testing will not identify.

Why Should Advanced Ion Chromatography (IC) Coolant Testing Be Added?

The advanced Ion Chromatography (IC) testing will determine glycol degradation, contamination and coolant inhibitors of nitrate, nitrite and possibly phosphate. IC testing will provide additional valuable information regarding your cooling system health.

IC testing will help find concerns with:

  • Hot spots (plugging of the system)
  • Combustion gas leaks
  • Electrical ground issues
  • Contamination concerns

Each concern above will cause a chemical reaction within the cooling system, resulting in failure overtime. Approximately 40% of engine failures can be traced back to a concern in the cooling system. Including IC testing to your routine coolant analysis program will provide more information on what is going on in the cooling system. Concerns can be caught early allowing for scheduled down time and less engine failures due to the cooling system.

What are Glycol Degradation Acids?

Degradation acids will form when ethylene or propylene glycol chemically breakdown. When degradation acids are present further glycol breakdown will occur as the acids present will act similar to a catalyst causing further glycol degradation over time.

Causes for degradation acids:

  • Localized overheating
  • Restriction of coolant circulation
  • Low coolant pressure
  • Mechanical concerns
  • Age of fluid

Degradation acids will hinder the coolant properties over time and may result in a decrease of the coolants ability to protect the metals in the system. Identifying the root cause is key to maintain the fluid and equipment. 

What Contamination Concerns can be Found?

Ion Chromatography will indicate contamination of chloride and sulfate. Chloride and sulfate are a concern if present in the system. Chloride can form hydrochloric acid, decarbonizes iron and is extremely corrosive. Sulfate can form sulfuric acid and combined with calcium to form scale in the system.

Causes for contamination:

  • Water source not meeting specification
  • Combustion gases
  • Air leak
  • Flush water left in system

Sulfate, when trending with prior history, can find an early combustion gas leak concern in the cooling system before an action is indicated on your lubricant analysis report. The coolant analysis will actually catch the concern and action can be made before a significant amount of coolant can mix with the lubricant leading to further engine wear.

Chloride contamination could be due to a venting concern allowing outside air to enter the system. Both chloride and sulfate can be present in a water that does not meet specification. Just a quick top off with water can cause a failure over time.

Catching contamination early with Ion Chromatography testing will provide the proper actions needed to correct the source of contamination before corrosion and/or chemical reactions occur harming the metals in the engine.

Are there benefits of reporting Nitrite and Nitrate?

Nitrite and nitrate may or may not be part of the coolant formulation as a corrosion inhibitor. The Ion Chromatography method is a more accurate method to determine nitrite concentration. The inhibitor if present, should be maintained for proper corrosion protection. Results can find concerns of low inhibitor, or mixing if inhibitor levels are not consistent with a new fluid reference. Trending both inhibitor levels can detect early concerns of chemical reactions, such as an electrical ground issue where nitrite could convert to nitrate.

Reach out today! Add Ion Chromatography testing to your program.

Advanced coolant testing will provide more details of possible chemical reactions occurring in your equipment and/or finding the root concern of recurring high severities found during basic coolant testing. Trending results from IC will provide more information on the fluid and find possible mechanical concerns in the cooling system. Catching system concerns early will help keep the cooling system functioning correctly and reduce unscheduled down times increasing your return of investment.

Check out our Technical Bulletin to find out more information on how Ion Chromatography (IC) Testing works:

Click to Download

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Published August 26, 2020

The Secret to Making Sampling Easy

That sounds like an infomercial title, right? But it’s not often that you’ll find a product that will:
  • Make your daily life easier
  • Quickly pay for itself
  • Lower chances of contaminating your sample bottle
If this is what you’re looking to achieve, sample valves are what you want!

You won’t even need to shut off equipment to collect a sample. Valves reduce the equipment you need to use and speed up sampling by 3-7 minutes on average. All of that saved labor adds up quickly to pay for the cost of the sample valve and lower your bottom line for years to come.

But wait, there’s more…

Sample valves are installed directly into your equipment, typically in a port made by the manufacturer for this purpose. This makes it easy to access the fluid in the system while ensuring no environmental dirt or moisture contaminate the remaining fluid. The ports also allow you to extend lines to a common rail so remote reservoirs can be accessed quickly, easily, and safely.

Push-button valves use the system’s pressure so all you need is the bottle to collect a sample – ditch that pump and tubing! To ensure dirt doesn’t get in your sample bottle, order a probe-style valve and use a needle-and-cap kit to collect the cleanest sample possible.

Unpressurized systems need a little motivation to pull quality samples quickly. Probe-and-needle valves can be used with vacuum pumps for the cleanest samples possible. But what do you do when you have a large reservoir and the fluid doesn’t mix at the sides? Just install a sample valve with a pilot tube to extend into where the fluid flows.

If you have equipment, there’s a valve for you. Download this guide to learn more about sample valves.

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Published July 29, 2020