Diesel fuel additives Reviews - Castle Products

Diesel fuel additives Reviews

Treatments that guard against fuel-tank corrosion.

Late last year, PS contributor Drew Frye noticed a fellow sailor practicing the classic downward-pretzel boat yoga position, trying to free a leaking diesel tank from the bilge. It had perforated through from the inside-out. The sending unit was corroded to bits. A few days later, after sending a sample of the tank bottom water to a lab, Frye learned that the fuel was contaminated with salt water, containing the equivalent of 23 percent of the ocean salinity.

Photos by Drew Frye; product photos courtesy of manufacturers

In addition to the long-term lab tests, PS is also monitoring the performance of the top products in the field. Biobor JF, one of our top picks against biological growth, did not perform as well against corrosion in lab testing.

The cause was a mystery. A leaking filler cap? The O-ring seemed fine. Did it come with a delivery? Certainly, local marina tanks have gone under water more than once, as recently as Hurricane Sandy, taking some water each time. Spray through the vent? Possibly. The pH of the bottom water was very low—about 4.5 (pH 7 is considered neutral)—and that certainly contributed to the corrosion. The low pH could have been caused by biological contamination, but the filters yielded no clear evidence. Whatever the root cause, a tank full of normally noncorrosive diesel had become aggressively corrosive.

Practical Sailor has tested gasoline additives for corrosion prevention and found that some performed beautifully and some actually seemed to promote corrosion. To test, we modeled the effect of seawater splashing into tanks through the fill cap. We also simulated the effects of condensation within the tank—a serious problem with E10 (fuel containing 10-percent ethanol).

Diesel fuel presents a different challenge. Unlike relatively sterile gasoline, diesel can be a fertile breeding ground for bacteria that can accelerate corrosion. Bacteria grow in the diesel and water mixture, attach to the tank walls and begin digesting the tank. Severe infections can be disastrous, as colonies drill jagged holes right through the tank wall. It can also make the diesel go sour; high concentrations of acetic acid (vinegar) have been found at the bottom of diesel tanks. We’ve found acid levels as low as pH 4 and acetate levels equivalent to a 30-percent white vinegar solution.

Star Brite Star Tron

Could ethanol be a part of the problem? A controversial paper by the Battelle research organization suggests that inadvertent contamination of diesel with ethanol during transit may be responsible for recent increases in corrosion in ultra-low sulfur (ULS) diesel tanks. Seawater remains a potential cause. Although saltwater intrusion seems less likely in a boat’s tank than for a dinghy outboard, our research indicated that 20- to 30-percent salinity is common among problem tanks.

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Popular Q&A

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What is the plant source of the CME diesel fuel additive?

CME refers to Coconut Methyl Ester, and is found in the fatty esters derived from coconut oil.

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