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Bio Sludge in fuel tank

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    3DB
    Senior Member

  • 3DB
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    Evening all,

    I just cleaned out my sediment / water trap from my Rodeo again almost exactly 12 months since I did it last time:

    http://www.biofuelsforum.com/threads...uelling-issues

    NOTE: my engine fuelling issues turned out to be nothing to do with this sludge - it was air leaks from what I can tell....and I'm still getting them, but that is another story.

    Unsurprisingly, 12 months later there was quite a bit of the sediment in there again that we labeled 'Tarry Substance' or TS previously.

    But this time it was slightly different - less tarry and more sediment-like...almost grainy like dirt, but you could crush it smooth by rubbing your fingers together.

    It cleaned up much more easily this time too - basically wiped out with a rag followed by a small spray of El Cheapo degreaser and it was clean.

    This may be a result of the fact that the cleaning interval was much shorter this time - only 12 months as opposed to about 4 years last time

    Since I did the original clean-out a year ago, I have been letting my finished fuel sit for as long as possible after reacting (4 - 6 weeks sometimes), draining glycerol off, then running my fish tank bubbler through it for a few days before washing - the latter always results in a bit more glycerol coming off even after sitting for a month. I have found I get a lot less soap and need to wash much less the before. Not sure if this has any bearing on the altered state of the TS.

    Photos aren't uploading for me again, so here is a link:

    2017 pics https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fmas57hf2...idhzyk4ra?dl=0
    2018 pics https://www.dropbox.com/sh/m20ciizck...gokoYJvSa?dl=0

    I will try to send a sample to my friend the moss scientist and get him to look at it under a microscope.

    The good news is that the filter head and filter itself seem clean at the outlet, so I guess it as all doing its job. I dread the thought of that stuff building up in my IP.

    Question to other Mercedes drivers (and other vehicles that do not have water / sediment traps fitted): if running biofuels should we fit one?
    3DB
    Senior Member
    Last edited by 3DB; 26 February 2018, 10:25 PM. Reason: added more content

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  • gsmiley
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    I bought 2 dead Mazda Capellas from a biodiesel guy; sitting 8 years. He had started out doing all the right things then stopped using a biocide. One car had to have the whole fuel system replaced, filled with bitumen and the case hardened parts were too corroded to use even when it was cleaned up. The other had a dead motor, no head, cylinders filled with rat piss and detritus but for fun I opened up the fuel pump and it was pristine so I swapped it and the fuel tank over. A diesel mechanic told me how to clean these things. They have to be stripped down. They use a bronze wire wheel and acetone on the steel parts which don't like water and an ultrasonic cleaner (with water) to clean the aluminium housings. You should not use caustic in your fuel system as it will react with aluminium. To clean the fuel system in situ and keep living organisms out of your bio use Chemtech diesel treatment just like was in car #2, a litre costs about $30 at Super Cheap Auto. Put 200 mls in each 200 litre drum of fuel and the bottle has a handy squeeze measure system and you won't have to get any on yourself. If your fuel has been properly washed and dried your troubles will be over.

    Although I was getting some black in my wife's PD Caddy van. It seems the individual injection pumps (one in each cylinder) are lubricated with engine oil and some leaks through into the fuel system.

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  • Dr Mark
    Senior Member

  • Dr Mark
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    How does microbial sludge respond to caustic soda, compared to algal sludge?
    Doesn't algae need sunlight to form?
    Why?
    I don't know whether it was "microbial" or "algal" - I don't know enough about microbiology to classify it. All I know is that it was biological in nature. There are thousands, possibly millions, of bacteria that can make thousands, possibly millions, types of biomass - some anaerobic, some aerobic, some autotrophic, some heterotrophic etc atc etc

    And as for its response to caustic, it's entirely empirical. If you spray oven cleaner onto the mould (biomass) in your shower, it will just lift off and can be wiped away. No idea what's happening at a molecular level

    Leave a comment:

  • Matt
    Senior Member

  • Matt
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    This most lilkely is tar from old mineral fuel, not bug. Given the Pug 405 age it will have run on the dirty stuff and this is what drops out of it. When I first started on Bio I kept a sample of the fuel int he tank, guess what dropped out of it, tar, I have experienced bug too in the bio which is a lot worse than anything you are facing, Enjoy,

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  • smithw
    Senior Member

  • smithw
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    I serviced My 405 pug today and it had a black tar like substances in the bottom of the fuel filter housing (again) . Ive got 3 other vehicles that run on bio and this is the only one that produces this black crap. I have flushed the IP in the past and not got much crap out of it, and I have struggled in the past to clean the filter house with petrol, metho, and isoprop alcohol, so just out of interest i cleaned the filter housing with methanol. It did a great job and dissolved this stuff really well. So Im going to flush the IP out with methanol and see what happens, probably this weekend.
    Ill report back, with the results

    Leave a comment:

  • Tony From West Oz
    Vice Chairperson of WARFA

  • Tony From West Oz
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    Mark,
    Questions:
    How does microbial sludge respond to caustic soda, compared to algal sludge?
    Doesn't algae need sunlight to form?
    Why?
    Regards,
    Tony

    Leave a comment:

  • Dr Mark
    Senior Member

  • Dr Mark
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    Originally posted by 3DB View Post
    Maybe it is algae then? I have a sample and just need a microscope to have a look. I have a mate that studies Antarctic moss for a living - maybe I'll send it to him.
    I knew the stuff I had was algal because of its response to caustic soda. If you treat black mould in your shower recess with oven cleaner (caustic soda) it lifts off the surface and assumes a gelatinous consistency. The stuff in my Frantz and fuel tank behaved in exactly the same way. In my tank it just lifted away from the steel and I just reached in with my hand and lifted it out as a single sheet.

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  • Matt
    Senior Member

  • Matt
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    That is not algae, if you get algae let me assure you, you will know it/.

    Being organic the algae will live all through biodiesel feeding on water in it and make a very awful mess of the complete fuel system leaving a resin like deposit that sticks to everything. There are several types but the one I had left orange resin in two cars. The material given to me is a very toxic to it and is used in water purification at very reduced levels but at minimal levels it will klll algae and leave it as a sand type material as it kills individual organisms (as experienced in the fuel filter bowel. I was advised to not get it on skin as it will almost permanently hypersensitise you to it, given its prevalent in the air this is not good. I have a 20 litre bottle of it and 1ml in 10ml of methylated spirits does the job nicely. Kept safe under the shed so the truck is back on bio.

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  • 3DB
    Senior Member

  • 3DB
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    Here's a good read on 'algae' in diesel as it relates to boats. Sounds like algae is actually bacteria....I had wondered how algae would photosynthesise inside a dark fuel tank....

    I see some similarities in the descriptions of the 'algae' to TS here

    http://www.boatcoachbob.com/articles...-diesel-algae/
    3DB
    Senior Member
    Last edited by 3DB; 1 April 2017, 08:36 PM.

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  • Tony From West Oz
    Vice Chairperson of WARFA

  • Tony From West Oz
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    It would be good to have an IP which is suspected of having some TS in it, opened and inspected (and take 'before' photos). Than run it with a high % Methanol/Biodiesel blend for a week before opening the IP and inspecting it (and take 'after' photos to compare with the before photos).
    Do we have any volunteers for the study?

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  • 3DB
    Senior Member

  • 3DB
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    A bio friend experimented on his ute with 100% methanol yesterday (I assume he still on the road today!?).

    "It is clear that the non-return valve on Facet pumps are a choke point for crud .
    I unscrewed the hexagonal assembly on the input side. it has a small spring closed plastic button mounted in a brass cage that has space around for
    fuel passage , not much room. Bit of brown gunk in there , probable cause of fuel starvation at hiway cruising that i got last bush trip . I fitted the pre-filter to the Facet input as a precaution.
    Maybe switching on the facet when things get sluggish/missing , is dislodging the crud which then sticks in the (main ) filter.

    I also pumped a bit of fuel up the line - quite cloudy and dark . I did a biocide dose Friday which may be something to do with that .

    I also pumped 600ml methanol thru IP . Came out without lumps or flakes , but was brownish. May just be residual fuel , although I mouth-blew most out prior.
    I left meth in for just 10 minutes - maybe an overnight soak would be best."

    He has temporarily removed his sediment trap though.

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  • Tony From West Oz
    Vice Chairperson of WARFA

  • Tony From West Oz
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    A WARFA member has offered this contribution:
    The black stuff is a combination of soap, glycerine and residual KOH/NAOH.
    The glycerin is whats left of the triglyceride after the methyl esters(biodiesel) have been separated and the soap is made as a result of a side reaction between the oil and the methoxide.
    Well washed biodiesel will never keep reacting in your fuel tank because all the chemical reactants are not present anymore.
    I emphasize "well washed". All the chemical reactants including the glycerine and soap needs to be removed. Soap is soluble so its very easy to clog up your fuel system if it's not removed properly.

    Rob

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  • Colin Walker
    Biofuels Forum Newbie

  • Colin Walker
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    Generally bacteria are able to grow in almost all environments that we encounter, unless provide specific and well designed anti-bacterial toxins. In my own vehicle use of oil, I encountered bacterial growth in steel tanks as the most common problem and it was because the bacteria cultures were a consortia (mixed species group) with all of slime bacteria, iron-related bacteria and heterogeneous (organic matter-consuming) bacteria. This mixtures are aerobic (using atmospheric oxygen) and relatively fast growing because they have the metal as a reducing material to use in making the various biochemicals in their metabolism. A side product of the reduction is excreting excess sulphur as that volatile hydrogen sulphide you can smell from metal drums Alga.

    Controlling bacteria in fuel is not just restricted to biofuels. Most refineries have corrosion issues in storage tanks and have to add and manage levels of various antibiotic materials. There are both fungi and bacteria and they both float and sink and are surface colonies and in suspension. The antibiotics are available as pure antibiotics to use as additives but kill the cost benefits of using the biofuel, but lengthen the lifespan of your car. Some hydrocarbon wastes such as the erythrosides that are from transformers are basically not metabolisable by microorganisms and can remain operational for 20+ years, but that is a rare case.

    Variations in the colour and consistency of bacteria samples can be caused by how much corrosion of the tanks walls and other components (like rubber lines) they have caused. Also some drop-outs are simply physical (such as fats that drop when oils are chilled) and we should always filter with as cold-adjusted a raw mixture as our car tank will subsequently get.

    Ordinary diesel can have problems (usually associated with water in the fuel supply) and I have recently pulled an in-tank lift pump from a black nylon fueltank and found it dead and covered with red-brown sludge. The vehicle had never had biodiesel (apart from some Gull via the bowser) and I would relate it to having lived in the wet weather of Denmark for several years and collecting condensate from air whenever the car cools down faster than its surrounds overnight. The vehicle's fuel line filter has a water bleed off that I check and I have never found any water in it, but growth in the tank still occurred.

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  • Tony From West Oz
    Vice Chairperson of WARFA

  • Tony From West Oz
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    Originally posted by 3DB View Post
    Smithy - that article is interesting, but a lot to digest. I will work on that.

    Tony - what are the risks of going for a very concentrated solution of either methanol or turps to clean your pump? I have been thinking about the same using my Facet pump to cycle a solution through the IP while the engine is off.
    I imagine that there may be some degradation of the fuel lines if the high concentration MeOH was in the system for a long time. I doubt that the impact using a low concentration would be significant. So, if planning to do the 'shock dose' (10% MeOH), that it be done in a short time-frame to minimise impact on hoses.
    I can't do it with the engine off, unless I leave the ignition on, as the shut down valve prevents circulation thru the IP when Ign. is Off.
    Aside from the fact that it is highly flammable and toxic to humans, what are the other risks using methanol in this manner? Is it likely to damage hoses or nitrile or Viton seals in the pump in concentrated form? Assuming you flushed it afterwards with biodiesel to ensure no significant quantities of methanol make it into the combustion chamber, would it be ok?

    What about turps? Better or worse?

    And what about a residual maintenance dose added to the fuel on an ongoing basis to keep the TS dissolved. Similar to a 10% addition of ULP? What would be a safe % of methanol to try?

    Is there a risk of dislodging a heap of TS that has been accumulating in the fuel tank over the years and sending a big plug of it towards the IP? Hopefully the sediment trap and filter would catch it?
    This last point is one of concern with a 'shock dose'. What we need is someone who has an issue with the TS to try a shock dose to see what happens. I don't do many Km in my car, so a 'Shock dose' would sit in my fuel tank too long for my liking. I will try a 'maintenance dose' of 1% in my biodiesel.
    How can I tell if it works?
    Someone who has a sedimenter (aka TS trap) might like to see what happens to the TS when a 10% solution is pumped thru an impacted TS Trap. Does the level of TS drop with the 10% solution being pumped thru it?

    Any volunteers?

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  • Captaincademan
    Senior Member

  • Captaincademan
    replied
    Re: Bio Sludge in fuel tank

    Originally posted by 3DB View Post
    Maybe it is algae then? I have a sample and just need a microscope to have a look. I have a mate that studies Antarctic moss for a living - maybe I'll send it to him.
    Food for thought - my cruiser - a 2001 model - suffered from blocked filters for the first few months of bio big time. Had 93,000 on clock at start of bio. Now my bio was aged and crystal clear. Like a bright beer. My car was a big investment for me so I needed the fuel as good as I could make it. I was changing filters every fortnight. That's why I changed to the plastic inline filters so I wasn't spending $40 every time. Filters were blocked with a dark gooey substance. Looking back I think it was crap from the diesel it had run for 4 years or so.

    Didnt have and any issues on my Mazda ute. 2005 model and 150,000km on clock.

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