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Heating Oil

What is Heating Oil? 150 150 Star Oilco

What is Heating Oil?

In the Pacific Northwest heating oil is diesel.

Star Po;cp Crest

New heating oil customers often ask us, “What is heating oil?” Heating oil is diesel fuel and there are several grades and types. For Star Oilco our standard heating oil product is a ultra low sulfur diesel with a 5% biodiesel blend in order to meet Oregon mandates for off-road diesel fuel. That way our heating oil trucks can also serve construction fueling, emergency back up generators, and other common off-road diesel uses.

Star Oilco has a simple Heating Oil FAQ available.

For full on fuel nerds though, check out this more in depth deeper technical dive below.  If we leave anything out please don’t hesitate to ask for those seeking a nerd-level understanding of heating oil, kerosene and bioheat.

There are three typically grades of heating oil you can order.

Number 1 Diesel

Number 1 diesel is also called Kerosene or Stove Oil. This fuel has a lighter specification than typical heating oil which enables it to burn better in a “pot burner” or wick heater. Kerosene has its own specification as the fuel used by wick heaters. Kerosene is typically Number 1 diesel but not all Number 1 diesel’s are kerosene due to the need to be taken up by a wick heater. Any biodiesel content in a kerosene product WILL NOT work in a wick kerosene heater. So be very aware of confirming that your kerosene has never come into any contact with a biodiesel blend of fuel.

Red Number 2 Diesel

Red dyed diesel also called Heating Oil, Dyed Diesel, Off-Road Diesel is the default heating oil fuel. The fuel is dyed red to denote no on-road fuel taxes are attached to it. When you call and ask for heating oil, this is the fuel you are requesting. Clear or Green Number 2 Diesel is the fuel sold at retail gas stations and truck stops. That fuel will also work in your furnace, you just are paying for on-road taxes attached to that fuel.

Bioheat or Biodiesel Heating Oil

“Bioheat” is a blend of biodiesel and petroleum diesel to make a lower emission and lower CO2 heating fuel.  Typically Bioheat is Number 2 Heating Oil with a 20% blend of biodiesel or higher in it. It is a drop-in fuel for your heating oil furnace. There is no change other than routine maintenance is required. It is a cleaner burning fuel with a significant drop in CO2 emissions associated with your heating oil fuel consumption.  If you would like more information on biodiesel as a heating oil you can follow this link.

B20 Biodiesel Heating oil provider

Where do heating oil companies get their fuel?

In the Portland, Oregon market, diesel is fungible. Everyone buys or is expected to mix their fuel from each other in some way. Primarily this is due to the Portland/Vancouver market receiving most of its fuel down the Kinder Morgan-operated Olympic Pipeline, which means all the refiners transporting fuel are mixing their product in transit. Additionally, there are shared terminal locations, which also have co-mingled owned diesel products. Every refiner is typically expecting to mix their diesel and gasoline products. The difference is in the care a vendor takes to filter the fuel, using additives and continuously check their fuel quality. If you are buying at the absolute lowest price possible, know that there is an incentive to skip any added value of quality assurance.

Star Oilco buys our diesel products from a variety of vendors. The source refiner typically being either BP, Shell, Marathon(formerly Tesoro), Phillip 66, or a number of other refiners.

Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington are not unique in in having fungible diesel and heating oil fuel specifications. Through its Pacific Operations unit, Kinder Morgan operates approximately 3,000 miles of refined products pipeline that serves Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Texas. With roots dating back to 1956, it is the largest products pipeline in the Western U.S., transporting more than one million barrels per day of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel to our customers. The company-owned terminals also provide additional services, such as liquid petroleum product storage and loading facilities for delivery trucks.

The heating oil and biofuel blends Star Oilco sells its customers

Heating oil is essentially off-road diesel. You can legally use a higher sulfur content for boilers and heating systems than you can off-road equipment and back-up generators. Regardless, we sell the lowest sulfur fuel available and optimize our fuel to be as versatile to our customers as possible. Construction equipment, back up generators and a host of others systems use off-road diesel, as do heating oil systems. Star Oilco sells the same diesel fuel specification for all of our off-road uses. We also blend this fuel with biodiesel for our customers that want higher blends of low CO2 biodiesel fuels and heating oil. Star Oilco carries nothing but ultra low sulfur diesel fuels. In fact, our minimum blend of biodiesel is a B5 biodiesel blend (5% biodiesel and 95% petroleum diesel) and we also offer B20 (20% biodiesel blend) and B99 (99% pure biodiesel) for our customers.

About Diesel Fuels Specifications 

In the United States, diesel fuel is controlled according the American Society for Testing and Materials Standard D975-97. This standard describes a limited number of properties that diesel fuels must meet. It should be noted that the requirements are all performance-based, meaning they do not mandate the composition of the fuel, only the specific performance related requirements demanded of a fuel for a diesel engine. The requirements of D975 are described below.

ASTM Specifications for Diesel Fuel Oils (D975)*

*More info on ASTM specifications

Diesel fuel is characterized in the United States by the ASTM standard D975, which identifies five grades of diesel fuel. We are only going to talk about the two most popular commercially diesel fuel used — No 1 and No. 2 diesel. The ASTM D975 standard is made up of a series of different tests that check the characteristic ranges of a fuel to confirm it is adequate to operate in your equipment. In simple terms, they are checking for specific gravity, the vapor point (when it turns into a gas), the flash point (when it catches fire), the dirt content, water content (how much microscopic entrained water) and a host of other requirements diesel must meet in order to be legal to be sold for use in your engine.

Grade No. 1-D and Ultra-Low Sulfur 1-D:

This is a light distillate fuel for applications requiring a higher volatility fuel to accommodate rapidly fluctuating loads and speeds, as in light trucks and buses. The specification for this grade of diesel fuel overlaps with kerosene and jet fuel, and all three are commonly produced from the same base stock. One major use for No. 1-D diesel fuel is to blend with No. 2-D during winter to provide improved cold flow properties. Ultra-low sulfur fuel is required for on-highway use with sulfur level < 0.05%. 

Grade No. 2-D and Ultra-Low Sulfur 2-D:

This is a middle- or mid-grade distillate fuel for applications that do not require a high volatility fuel. Typical applications include high-speed engines that operate for sustained periods at high load. Ultra-low sulfur fuel is required for on-highway use with sulfur level < 0.05%.

Biodiesel Fuels for Heating Oil

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced from oil seed crops, used cooking oil, and/or animal fat waste. It is chemically similar to petroleum diesel, and is produced by combining the oil stock with catalysts and then heating it. Biodiesel is not the same as vegetable oil or SVO (straight vegetable oil). Biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine. Biodiesel and biodiesel blends significantly reduce tailpipe emissions, especially carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and particulates (black smoke). ASTM D975 standard, as of 2008, allowed up to 5 percent biodiesel to be blended into the fuel. This is the called B5 — the ‘B’ stands for biodiesel and 5 stands for up to 5 percent biodiesel.

B6 to B20 – ASTM D7467-17:

Diesel blends up to 20% and more than 6% are referred to as B20. Biodiesel is a cleaner burning fuel than petroleum diesel. Using biodiesel can help reduce the amount of harmful emissions released into the air, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other compounds found in diesel exhaust. Read the ASTM D7467-17 standards.

B99 & B100 –  ASTM D6751-15ce1:

These are fuels made of up to 100% biodiesel. Due to environmental regulations, most retailers will carry a maximum of B99. The standards for B99 and B100 are identical. Unlike gasoline, diesel can gel at cold temperatures, which can cause stress on fuel pumps and fuel injection systems, or can clog filters or even become too thick to pump to the engine. B99 has a higher temperature gel rate – meaning that it begins to cloud and thicken at higher temperatures – than conventional diesel. “The cloud point of soybean biodiesel is about 34°F (1°C), whereas the cloud point for No. 1 diesel is about – 40°F (-40°C) and for No. 2 diesel between -18°F (-28°C) and +20°F (-7°C).” (Biodiesel Cloud Point and Cold Weather Issues) The solutions for cold weather involve additives and lower blends to ensure continuous operations. Read the ASTM D6751-15ce1 standards.

FURTHER READING ON DIESEL FUEL:

For a question and answer format about heating oil please see: Every question Star Oilco has been asked about Heating Oil

Here is an article about: an In-depth look at Biodiesel as a heating fuel 

Read about Star Oilco’s approach to Fuel Quality Assurance: Star Oilco – Precision Fuel Management

Read about dealing with biological growth in your diesel tank: Bioguard Plus 6 biocide treatment for diesel

Get Chevron’s Technical Manual to Diesel Fuel (essentially an easy to read text book on diesel): Chevron’s Fuel Technical Review

Get a white paper from Donaldson Filtration on tier 4 engines and fuel cleanliness: Donaldson on Tier 4 Engine Fuel Contamination

Read more about Donaldson Desiccant Breathers for bulk diesel tanks: Why use a Donaldson Desiccant Breather for a bulk diesel storage tank.

Every question Star Oilco has been asked about heating oil 150 150 Star Oilco

Every question Star Oilco has been asked about heating oil

Heating Oil FAQ (and not so FAQ)

Every Question Star Oilco has been asked about Heating Oil

It’s getting cold again in the Pacific Northwest, so it is time to take a look at some common questions we have been asked about Heating Oil.  If you don’t see an answer to a question you have, please feel free to call, email, or message Star Oilco and we will gladly answer. We especially welcome questions  that require research.

What is Heating Oil in Oregon?

Heating Oil in Oregon is diesel and can have a biodiesel blend as well.  Diesel fuel has several grades either #1 or #2 Diesel.  The number refers to the grade with #1 being called either “stove oil” or “Kerosene” as another term for it.  Typically when someone is requesting or talking about heating oil they are talking about #2 Diesel dyed red to denote there are no on-road fuel taxes associated with the fuel.

How does a heating oil furnace work?

There are several types of oil furnaces.  The most common is a vaporizing burner.  These furnaces typically work by taking a liquid combustible fuel, vaporizing it into a fine mist through a fuel oil nozzle, and igniting that mist into fire. That fire heats either air or water for your home’s comfort.

Heating Oil Fired Air Furnaces

Air furnaces usually move the air through a heat exchanger where a blower then moves air over the heat generated by your furnace, and finally the air is pushed through your home’s vents. 

Heating Oil Fired Water Furnaces and Boilers

Boilers and Water furnaces heat a tank of water which is then distributed several different ways to heat your home.  Either by moving hot water to radiators, radiant plumbing under your floor, or to a heat exchanger and blower which transfers the heat from the hot water into vents blown throughout your home. 

Heating Oil System prior to the combustion system

The parts leading up to the Burner of of an oil furnace system are simple. There is a tank to hold a reservoir of oil, a line from that tank (and sometimes a line back to it), a fuel filter, a fuel pump, and a vaporizing burner that combusts the heating oil into fire. Combustion of the fuel takes place in a fire box next to the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger takes on the heat of the flames to heat either air or water. In an oil furnace, the heat exchanger is assisted with a blower that pushes the hot air throughout your home to keep you comfy.

How do I check the volume of fuel in my heating oil tank?

If you have an above or below ground heating oil tank you can confirm your fuel volume by the inches of fuel in the tank.  If you have an above ground tank there is probably a tank gauge that can tell you an approximate volume in the tank.  If you have an below ground tank you can confirm how many gallons are in the tank by putting  a measuring stick or tape-measure into the tank.

You will want to confirm the size of the tank you have. Your oil provider will probably have an idea of what size your tank is by looking or historic deliveries. Star Oilco has a tank chart which will help.  If you place a stick or tape measure into your tank and see how much fuel is in it you can compare that to a tank chart found on Star Oilco’s website.  When delivering fuel you can “stick” measure the tank before and after the delivery. Compare these volumes with the delivery and you can often figure out your tank size based on the before and after volume lining up with how much fuel filled your tank.

To view Star Oilco’s Tank Chart please click HERE. 

What is “home heating oil” or “residential heating oil?”

Home heating oil can be either a petroleum diesel fuel, bio-synthetic diesel fuel, or biodiesel fuel. In Oregon and Washington, home heating oil is typically ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel often containing between 5% and 20% biodiesel. Star Oilco’s standard home heating oil fuel is B5 dyed ultra-low sulfur diesel. Oregon mandates require that all diesel fuel sold contain a minimum 5% biodiesel. For that reason Star Oilco carries B5 or 5% biodiesel blends in our heating oil. (NOTE: Kerosene sold by Star Oilco contains no biodiesel due to the reality that wick heaters cannot handle even a minute amount of biodiesel in them.) Star Oilco also carries a 20% biodiesel blend, called B20 Bioheat, for customers who want a cleaner burning low carbon fuel for their home.

What is kerosene heating oil?

Kerosene is a heating oil product that is capable of being picked up and fed consistently by a wick heater. Kerosene is a diesel product that is very similar to the fuel used for over the road trucks. The big difference is that kerosene is a “lighter end” distillate fuel, which means it has a lighter specific gravity. This lighter characteristic means that it also works better in certain systems like wick heaters, pressure washers, and pot burner stoves.

Can heating oil be used in a kerosene heater?

It depends on what type of system the kerosene heater is operating with. If you have a wick heater it will not work with heating oil. You will likely have to replace the wick to get it to work again as diesel will not readily drawn into the wick. Even if it does, it will burn far dirtier. If it is a pot burning system like a Toyostove or Monitor heater, then it will burn ultra low sulfur heating oil. Increased maintenance is to be expected on the pot burner, as there is a likelihood of more coking (crusty black soot build up) to occur inside that system.

What is “bio heating oil” or bioheat?

Bio heating oil and bioheat refer to heating oil products with a blend of biodiesel in them. Typically bioheat is a blend between 5% to 20% biodiesel with ultra low sulfur diesel for a clean burning and low CO2 heating fuel.

For a really in-depth look at biodiesel used as a heating oil check out this article. 

Will heating oil run a diesel engine?

Yes, heating oil will run in a diesel engine. Heating oil is diesel. Be aware though that on-road vehicles must only run clear diesel fuels. If caught using heating oil in an on-road vehicle in Oregon and Washington, the fines can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Heating oil can also be dyed to signify it isn’t for on-road use.  Also be aware that even many off-road pieces of equipment and generators need ultra low sulfur diesel to operate without very expensive maintenance. Heating oil can have low sulfur or even high sulfur contents that could cause real issues for modern clean diesel engines. Some consideration is needed prior to burning a fuel marked “heating oil” in a diesel engine.

What heating oil do I need?

Consult your furnace, stove, boiler or water heater’s factory recommended specification. Typically it’s Number 2 Diesel unless it is a stove pot or wick heated system. If you have a furnace or a boiler in your basement, you can assume it’s heating oil. Call a licensed and bonded heating oil furnace technician to tune up your furnace to confirm for sure. If you do not have one, Star Oilco can refer you to a number of reputable long-time firms who can help.

What are heating oil additives and are heating oil additives worth it?

Heating oil additives are added to fuel in order to improve it’s long term storage and performance.  They are worth it and most reputable heating oil providers additize their fuel without an extra charge.  This is because most heating oil customers store their fuel for long periods of time.  If you are planning on storing heating oil for years you will need a fuel additive to keep that fuel in the quality needed for your furnace.  Star Oilco provides a premium diesel additive called Hydrotex PowerKleen to every gallon of heating oil we sell.  Beyond this stabilizers, if you are planning on storing fuel for years we recommend ValvTect Plus 6.  You will want to treat your fuel with a biocide like ValvTect Plus 6 to will kill any bacteria, yeast, algae, or other biological organism that can grow inside your heating oil tank.

For more on storing diesel or heating oil for long periods of time please read this article on long term fuel storage.

What does heating oil smell like?

Heating oil smells like diesel. It is a diesel product and often, depending on location, it is the same as on-road diesel. It may be dyed to denote that it is an off-road fuel with a untaxed use. Heating oil is dyed red in the Pacific NW to show it is off-road diesel.

What is Heating Oil #2?

Heating Oil #2 is number 2 diesel or the standard diesel sold in most places for on-road diesel use. Heating Oil #2 is a slightly different specification than on-road diesel that allows for more sulfur. That is a big difference as far as the EPA is concerned. On-road and off-road vehicles in the U.S. are required to use ultra-low sulfur diesel. Heating oil systems can use low or high sulfur diesel fuels. Ultra low-sulfur diesel is the most common Heating Oil #2 fuel that is delivered by Star Oilco since it is a superior and cleaner burning fuel, in our opinion.

Where can I buy heating oil at the pump?

In the Pacific NW heating oil is ultra low sulfur diesel. Therefore, you can buy any diesel sold at a retail gas station, truckstop, farm supply or other liquid fuel seller.  Heating oil is dyed red to show that it is not taxed for on-road fuel use.  Other than that red dye, typical auto-diesel will work in your oil furnace if you need to supply it from a diesel can.

At what temperature does heating oil freeze?

Heating Oil Gel Point:

In the Pacific NW we expect number 2 diesel heating oils to be operable beyond -10 degrees. The record cold weather in the Willamette Valley is above 0 degrees (recent decades 16 degrees was our record low in Portland). We do test and additize our fuels to ensure they meet this specification even if they contain 5% biodiesel blended into heating oil.

Kerosene Gel Point:

Kerosene fuels (Number 1 Diesel, Number 1 Stove Oil, and Kerosene labeled fuels) are expected to be good below -30 degrees and are designed to be used in high altitude applications. (Kerosene and jet fuels are often the same specification in the Pacific NW.)

B20+ Biodiesel Gel Point:

Biodiesel blends of B20 and above are assumed to be good to 20 degrees but if Star Oilco expects below-freezing weather, we highly recommend B5 as your delivered fuel. B99 biodiesel typically gels at 40 degrees, so it’s not a winter fuel unless you have a system designed to keep the fuel warm in the middle of winter.

What is “oil heating,” “oil fired heater,” or “oil furnace” referring to in a house description?

“Oil Heat” or “Oil Fired” refers to a heating system reliant on burning heating oil. Typically this is by use of a vaporizing burner that takes the combustible liquid that is heating oil and vaporizes it through a nozzle into an igniter that causes it to burn.  This system burns the heating oil, creating a great deal of heat that can warm air, water, or both to heat a home or commercial space.

Are heating oil fumes make you sick?  Is heating oil fumes harmful, dangerous, or toxic?

NOTE: IF HEATING OIL HAS BEEN INGESTED PLEASE SEE A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL!
Heating oil by itself is not dangerous or toxic if it come in contact with your skin.  It is easily washed off with soap and water.   If a small amount of diesel is spilled on the surface of the ground it typically will break down on it’s own in the presence of the environment.  If a small amount is spilled on concrete or asphalt it can be cleaned up easily with dish soap and water and will break down.  If your tank leaks and heating oil is soaked below ground this will not break down easily and will take professional help to treat.  The exhaust from heating oil systems contains carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide as well as particulates.  Heating oil and other diesel exhausts are very dangerous and toxic and should be avoided.  Do not allow exhausts of any kind to collect in an enclosed space.

Can heating oil evaporate?

Heating Oil’s vapor point (the temperature it turns to vapor and evaporates) is around 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  Heating oil ignites at 160 degrees.  Typically in the Pacific NW the temperature (especially outside) is well below the vapor and flash point of diesel fuels including heating oil and kerosene. If spilled it will not usually evaporate. You can clean heating oil and diesel up with regular dish soap and water.

Can heating oil vapor explode?

Heating oil ignites at 160 degrees.  So unless the temperature is that high an explosion is not a risk.  Fire Code regulating heating oil tanks and placement takes this concern into account.  So typically except in extreme scenarios heating oil vapor does not pose an explosion risk.

Can heating oil fumes ignite?

If you drop a match into a cup of heating oil at room temperature it will go out.  If you hold a match to the surface of the heating oil in that cup the flame will get large and bright but the heating oil itself will not ignite.  Heating oil needs to be vaporized before it will ignite. It is a combustible fuel so it must be in a vapor form to light.  The vaporizing nozzle of your heating oil furnace turns diesel into a vapor mist easily ignitable.

Can heating oil go bad?  How long can I store heating oil?

Yes, heating oil can go bad. If you are planning to store heating oil for longer than a year, you should use a diesel additive that stabilizes fuel for long term storage. If you are storing the fuel as a back-up where you might go years without using it, you should also consider adding a biocide to ensure nothing grows in your tank. The two biggest threats to your fuel staying in specification are water and biological growth. Biological growth occurs inside the water that can collect in your tank bottom naturally through condensation over time. Star Oilco treats 100% of our dyed fuels with Hydrotex Powerkleen to ensure that it is stable for storage for over a year. If you need to store it longer than that, we further recommend adding a desiccant breather to scrub moisture out of the air when your tank breaths, which protects it from additional water.

  For more on additizing your heating oil for long term storage please follow THIS link.

Can a heating oil tank be outside?

Yes, heating oil tanks properly installed outside are perfectly safe and capable of ensuring your fuel stays clean and dry.

Are heating oil tanks regulated?

Yes, at several different levels. With residential use, there are local jurisdictions’ building permit requirements for installation and safety. With commercial use, there is the same building permit regulation and usually an added level of Fire Marshall sign-off for siting of any tanks. In rural areas, regulations are different if the tank is associated with an agricultural use. In Oregon and Washington, a 90 day temporary tank for construction purposes (to move from one tank to another in a formal process) is usually allowed, but you should ensure the temporary tank is a double wall tank and is in a safe place. If your tank leaks (or even if there is a suspicion of a leak), the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Washington Department of Ecology have an involved process to close out a leaking oil tank.  

Do I need to do maintenance on my heating oil furnace?

Yes, you need to ensure you maintain your oil furnace. Star Oilco recommends getting a tune up annually or at least every other year.  If you are seeking a referral to a HVAC company that specializes in oil heat, call Star Oilco’s office 503-283-1256 and ask for a list of qualified license and bonded companies we recommend. 

One of the great benefits of oil heat is that oil furnaces are known to last for over fifty years if maintained properly. Natural gas and propane furnaces typically wear out every ten to twenty years dependent on their construction. The primary wear consideration on any furnace is the heat exchanger. The heavy steel part takes the flame of burning fuel, transmits this heat to the air, and is then pushed to heat your home. Oil furnaces must be tuned up every year or two to ensure the heat exchanger is cleaned. If you do not service the heat exchanger, it will collect soot. Soot insulates the heat exchanger unevenly and causes wear that will eventually lead to a crack. If a heat exchanger is cracked, the furnace is no longer safe to operate. Additionally, an annual tune-up will pay for itself by ensuring your furnace is burning at peak efficiency. You will want to replace your furnace air filter regularly on an annual basis.

Do I need to do any maintenance on my heating oil tank?

Yes, you want to check your oil furnace for water annually. Star Oilco can stick your tank for water at no charge upon request with a fuel delivery.

How do I reduce my consumption of heating oil?

Tuning your furnace annually or every other year is highly recommended. Adjusting the fuel air mixture for the most efficient combustion goes a long way to ensure you use as little heating oil as possible. Star Oilco has witnessed fifty and even seventy year oil furnaces operate at modern efficiencies when maintained regularly over their lives. Today there are also a host of high efficiency oil furnaces that are manufactured and supported to further reduce your cost of fuel.  Additionally, confirming the envelope of your home is not drafty or needlessly wasting heat can go a long way in reducing your heating expenses.

How do I reduce the price I pay for Heating Oil?

The price of heating oil fluctuates frequently due to market conditions.  This is out of our control.  Comparison shopping is your best way to ensure you pay the best possible price. One web based tool we have heard customers like to use to save time while shopping for heating oil is Fuelwonk.com.  It is free and easy to use.

If you do not like our price and someone else is cheaper let us know.  We will match their price. Fuelwonk.com makes it easy to look at a glance at the market for heating oil. We use it and if we are missing something let us know.

Will Heating Oil be phased out?

Heating Oil is a modern fuel that uses today’s heating oils and biofuels.  The investments in research and development for heating oil furnace by the National Oil Research Alliance to use a wider variety of biofuels in higher lower CO2 blends have kept heating oil relevant in many applications.  As a heating fuel, it’s use will become more rural than urban rather than a phase out. As it is today, the use of heating oil will be used where natural gas is not available especially if the temperatures get below zero.  The reason for urban adoption is that natural gas in recent years has been cheaper than heating oil due to the surpluses of natural gas created by the fracking development of petroleum.

What are “Degree Days?”

Star Oilco uses a Degree Day system for our customers on Automatic Keep-Full Service.  We fill your tank before it needs it automatically.  We use a statistical regression analysis that correlates your typical use of heating oil in your home along side the weather.  Over years of service our systems will track your usual fuel usage and we automatically schedule delivery to keep your tank full.

What is the energy content or “BTU’s” of Heating Oil?

The technical term “BTUs” refers to “British Thermal Units” which is a measure of energy content of a fuel.  The energy content of diesel fuels can vary slightly by regions and specifications of those regions.  In the Pacific Northwest heating oil is typically Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel with a blend of biodiesel content that can range from 5% to 20% added to the fuel.   This means the exact BTU measured for a gallon of heating oil an slightly vary.

Source: US Alternative Fuel Data Center Fuel Properties Comparisons
Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel: 128,488 BTUs to 138,490 BTUs per gallon.
B5 Biodiesel is presumed to be about the same BTUs as ULS Diesel.
B100 Biodiesel: 119,550 BTUs to 127,960 BTUs per gallon.
B20 Biodiesel: 126,700 BTUs to 136,384 BTUs per gallon.

What Do I Need to Know About Long Term Diesel Storage? 150 150 Star Oilco

What Do I Need to Know About Long Term Diesel Storage?

Here’s good advice if you are relying on diesel as a back up fuel in the Pacific NW.

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Now is the time to refill and treat your back up fuel tanks.

Diesel as a back up fuel

Quite a bit of our business at Star Oilco is fueling back-up generators, emergency water pumps, refrigerated trailers and other long term off-road diesel storage requirements. In the Pacific Northwest, biodiesel blending is required by state laws and you need to take an extra duty of care when storing diesel as a back-up fuel.

This means that most off-road diesels and heating oils are ultra low sulfur diesel containing a small quantity of biodiesel.  That means long term storage requires a proactive approach.  You can’t just hope and wait to see what the fuel begins to look after years of storage.

Technical advice from Government Fleet Magazine to help you with storing diesel fuel.

Here is an article from Government Fleet Magazine on the subject which runs through the specifics of long term storage and what causes fuel to degrade when stored.  Government Fleet Magazine – How to Maintain Stored Diesel Fuel.

Star Oilco has also worked up a PDF check list on how to verify if your fuel is in need of freshening or is still in emergency ready shape.  If you are a customer of ours, we will deliver a laminated card version to keep next to your back up generator. If you are not a customer (or outside of our service area) drop us a message below and we will gladly email you the PDF.

For our customers, we recommend that you check the tank bottom fuel quality on an annual basis to make sure the product looks good. If the tank has sat for years and is dark in color (good diesel is bright and transparent – you will notice if it is in bad shape), we recommend pumping the tank out at least partially and replacing with fresh fuel. Often you can also hugely improve the quality of the fuel by polishing the fuel. Polishing is when you circulate fuel from the bottom of the tank through a pump, filter repeatedly in order to remove any sediment or growth from the fuel, and then place this fuel back in the same tank.

Look at your fuel for a bright and clear color.

For stored fuel, you also want to make sure it is stabilized and contains a biocide. Stabilizers prevent the oxidation of the fuel and prevent the effect of metals like lead, copper and zinc, which can react and degrade fuel. For heating oil systems with a return line, for instance, the fuel is flowing through a copper line to the furnace and then back to the tank in a return line.

Use additives designed to prolong the life of your emergency diesel fuel.

Biocides prevent the growth of biological activity in the tank. In scenarios whcontaminated_dieselere micro-organisms like algae, bacteria, yeasts, and other bugs are growing in your fuel, biocides can kill this growth. It is still important to remove the residual grit and other contaminants that are the hallmark of bugs growing in your tank. Usually you remove them by filtration or total turn over of the fuel. If your tank absolutely has to be clean, you can contract a tank professional to enter the tank and physically clean the tank bottom or reline the tank with either fiberglass or an epoxy resin.

Water in diesel destroys fuel quality rapidly. Check your tank for water every fall and spring.

In events where water finds its way into your storage tank, that can also be corrected by pumping the tank bottom. Additionally, you want to put in an absorbent material designed to absorb water and not fuel. If your long term storage tank has water and you are not planning to burn 100% of the fuel in the near future, DO NOT add anything that removes water by distributing into the fuel. Adding a “fuel drier” that actually pushes the water into solution with the diesel will worsen the long term quality of your fuel, not improve it. That water is where bugs find their home to grow in fuel.

Star Oilco will test your fuel at no charge if you have an open account.

Feel free to call us with any questions you may have about long term storage of diesel. Star Oil can also deliver treated diesel ready for long term storage complete with Hydrotex PowerKleen Premium Diesel additive to improve the long term storage quality of your fuel. For biocide, we use Valvtect BioGuard fuel microbiocide to kill any possible biological activity and prevent any chance of it starting.

Diesel Testing and Storage in Portland

If you have a long term diesel storage tank and you are in the Portland, Oregon area, we are here to test your fuel.  Make sure your diesel is there for you when disaster strikes.

Tank Testing Form

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

For more reading on diesel fuel quality assurance:

Fight Humbug in your Diesel Tank (using Valvtect Bioguard Plus 6 to stabalize your stored diesel)

Diesel Fuel Technical Review (an easy to read and free text book on diesel fuel)

Emergency Back Up Generator Fuel Quality (designed to provide a checklist to help Facility Managers keep those back up generators ready for emergency action)

Using Desicant Breathers to keep diesel fuel dry and clean (an introductory primer on desicant breathers and how they can be used to keep long term diesel storage drier and cleaner)

Using Diesel Filters to clean up your diesel fuel quality (an introductory primer on using aggressive filtration in line with diesel fuel dispensing for fuel quality assurance)

B20 Biodiesel Heating oil provider
In-depth look at Biodiesel as a heating fuel 500 500 Star Oilco

In-depth look at Biodiesel as a heating fuel

Can you Bio diesel as a Heating Oil Fuel?

In a recent study, the viability of biodiesel – also known as bioheat – and its use as a heating oil was examined.Star Oilco an experienced provider of BioDiesel Heating Oil

TL:DR Biodiesel up to B20 and beyond do not require equipment changes or settings. Home heating systems have used biodiesel since 2000 and have shown no significant issues compared to standard fuel.

The study reviews pump seal performance, metal interactions, burner combustion and even reviews in-the-field users of biodiesel.

Use of biodiesel reduces GHG (Greenhouse Gas) by 50% – 86% compared to petroleum diesel, according to NORA.

 

In a study from Brookhaven National Laboratory that was submitted to the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), Dr Thomas A. Butcher and Rebecca Trojanowski studied the use of Biofuels in Heating Oil and any possible issues that could result from usage.

Biodiesel mixtures are labeled as B* where the * is the percentage of biodiesel. For example B20 would be 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel.

By breaking it down into 5 separate studies and a review of actual field use for nearly 20 years, they set out to evaluate the possible fail points of using B20 and higher heating oil blends.

Bio Diesel and Pump Seal Material Evaluation

From the start, the pump shaft seals were identified as the area with the most concern of failure. So, this is where the study began. They identified the most common seals in pumps for North America were nitrile material. The study then focused on this material.

For this part of the study, they took the nitrile material and immersed it in different biodiesel and No.2 fuel blends. They soaked these for 670 hours at 125 °F.  The samples were than checked to see if the hardness changed, looked at swelling, tensile strength, and compression deformation.

Results: There were no significant changes for the nitrite for fuels meeting ASTM standards. This includes biofuel up to B100. The one concern was fuel that had acid numbers above 2 could lead to accelerated degradation. B100 standards call for acid numbers 0.5 and below.

Biodiesel and the Evaluation of Oil Burner Pumps Under Operating Conditions

This second test also dealt with the same seals. The difference in this test was that the pumps were in continuous action. They set up 42 pumps to run for 11 months. A pump would run for 5 minutes and then turn off for a minute. This resulted in 80,000 on/off cycles in a period of 8,030 hours. During this time no leaks were observed in any of the pumps.

Result: There wasn’t any difference in degradation between using B0 and B20.

Exposure of "Yellow Metals" at low temperature with biodiesel

Copper fuel lines are installed in many older oil heating homes. This was due to lower cost and the fact they were easy to manipulate during installation. This could be a problem because No.2 fuel and biodiesel could accelerate the oxidative degradation of the fuels when exposed to copper.

This experiment consisted of using 10 inch tubes filled with different levels of biofuels: B0, B20, and B100. These would be stored at 70 °F  for 6 months in 3 types of tubes: stainless steel, old copper (a fuel line that had been in service for 30 years), and new copper. Most systems only would expose the copper pipes for a very limited time, so 6 months for any exposure is an extreme amount of time.

Results: An acid value of 2 was shown to degrade nitrile material in the earlier experiments. None of the fuel crossed this mark. The closest was B0 in the stainless steel. This fuel got to 1.5 from .04 (where all the fuel started). These tests were considered to represent summer shutdown of a heat-only boiler or furnace.

Exposure of "Yellow Metals" and biodiesel at high temperature

In addition to copper fuel lines, the other major source of yellow metal would be the brass nozzles. Most fuel isn’t in the nozzle long enough to cause any changes, but the fuel left unburned between firings is exposed to higher temperatures then those in the lines. It was decided to try and see if there was changes for this exposure.

The experiment was open top glass beakers with brass and stainless steel nozzles stored in B0, B20, and B100 levels of fuel. This setup was stored in an oven at 175 °F for a week.

Result: The result was a relatively small increase during this time. Even after the experiment was continued for another 4 weeks the numbers represented no significant differences.

Biodiesel Combustion Performance and Flame Sensor Response

The goal of this experiment is to evaluate the proper atomization and combustion performance of biodiesel blends in heating oil systems and to see if there was any issues with flame sensor operation and effectiveness.

The fuel for a home heating oil system requires the fuel to be pushed through a 10 micron filter and then pushed into a fire box at 100 – 150 psi and ignited. This is compared to a diesel engine that have a nominal pore size between 2 and 30 microns and then injected into the system at 20,000 psi.

According to the study, “In comparison to the… diesel engine, heating oil systems are open flame systems and excess air is used to ensure complete combustion. The amount of excess flue gas oxygen is generally between 3% and 6% excess O2 or 15% and 40% excess air to minimize smoke and ensure very low levels of carbon monoxide.” These are usually set by a technician and then re-checked on service calls every 1 or 2 years. “Since properly operating home heating oil systems burn the fuel completely in excess air and emissions are low… Due to this clean combustion, heating oil emissions are typically not measured or monitored, with the exception of smoke and CO.”

The testing was set up first for conventional No. 2 fuel and then adjusted for B100 fuel.

Result: Showed that B20 performed at the same level as regular No. 2 fuel and the bio blend could go all the way up to 50% before the need to adjust the airflow. So, the conclusion was that if the unit is running higher levels of biofuel, the air input needs to be adjust to optimize fuel combustion and reduce CO or smoke.

Review of Field Experience with BioDiesel Blends

Biodiesel blends have been used in the field for heating oil with some using B20 and above since 2005. Part of the study was reviewing customers that have been using B20 above. Of the surveyed providers, none reported a change of any burner or system components.

The report continues to talk about the levels of biofuel that was being used and the condition the fuel was in. Basically it was found that there was no difference from the standard petroleum only fuel.

Conclusion and results of BioDiesel study

  1. Fuels above a certain level of acid content can compromise seals, none of the bio blends reached this and they were statistically similar to petroleum only fuels.
  2. Long term cycling pump showed no leakages with biofuels.
  3. No impact on fuel stored in copper tubing at room temperature was found.
  4. No significant difference on fuel stored with copper at high temperatures and conventional No. 2 fuel.
  5. At higher than B50 concentrations it was found that the burner needed adjusted for best efficiency. B20 will operate at the same level as standard No. 2 fuel.
  6. Finally there appears no real difference in functional use of biofuel vs the use of No. 2 fuel.

So the good news, according to this report, is that if you want to use biodiesel up to B50 there appears no difference in settings or maintenance. As long as a reputable dealer that uses biodiesel that uses ASTM D675 for its B100.

Using biodiesel blends for heating oil reduces greenhouse gases. For more information on this see the NORA report.

B20 Biodiesel Heating oil provider

How to order biofuel as your home heating oil.

Every question Star Oilco has been asked about Heating Oil.

If you want to know a little it more about Bio-fuels and what feedstocks can be used.

 

Farm diesel and gasoline fueling delivery service 150 150 Star Oilco

Farm diesel and gasoline fueling delivery service

Fueling of a Farm Tank with a Star Oilco Truck.

Diesel and Gasoline Rural Fuel Delivery Service.

Fill your farm, nursery, or homestead fuel tanks now.

Now is the time to order gasoline or diesel for your rural operation.  In Oregon and Washington diesel and gasoline prices risen to a recent high.  Off-road diesel and farm gasoline prices in particular can benefit from a bulk delivery order before the upcoming hurricane season causes fuel price volatility.  Hurricane season usually spikes prices in the Pacific Northwest because they cause national petroleum supply interruptions going into Fall.  Get ahead of the need for fuel.

This is the time to fill your farm fuel tank.

If you have a bulk tank now is the time to order as we are seeing stable prices for diesel and gasoline in the Pacific Northwest.  Order your fuel now, and get a great price before the market changes.  Call us and discuss your need.   We are here to help and make keeping your equipment going when you need the fuel there without a hassle.

Rural Gasoline and Diesel delivery.

Agricultural fuels for farm use.

Call Star Oilco to keep your farm’s tank full.  Whether it’s a 100 to 500 gallons of gasoline and dyed diesel or a 25,000 order of B20 biodiesel.  We are there to serve you to make things easy.  With what is going on, you will not regret having plenty of fuel next to your barn at these market prices.

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Star Oilco is a locally owned Oregon business serving Willamette Valley farms and businesses since 1936.  Veteran owned, locally operated, and committed to your needs here in Oregon and Washington. 

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Please see these other posts if you are curious about off-road fuels:

If you have questions about Off Road or Dyed Diesel please see our FAQ

What you need to know about long term diesel storage 

How to fight “Humbug” growing in your diesel tank.

Every Question We Have Been Asked About Biodiesel 150 150 Star Oilco

Every Question We Have Been Asked About Biodiesel

Every Question We Have Been Asked About Bio-diesel

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that is reducing U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum, creating jobs and improving the environment. Biodiesel is commonly blended in a 5% to 20% component with petroleum diesel and can be found available at retail around North America as a blended fuel.  Biodiesel is a low CO2, net energy positive fuel which depending on the feedstock it is made from can vary from a 30% to 80%+ reduction in CO2 emissions compared to petroleum diesel.  Biodiesel is made from a diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, industrial non-food grade spent oils, animal fats, as well as virgin vegetable oils such as canola, soy, and corn oil. For more information see the National Biodiesel Board’s “Biodiesel Basics” page.Simple Bio-diesel chart showing how to make

How is biodiesel made?

Biodiesel is most commonly made from taking an animal fat, used cooking oil, or a virgin vegetable oil and mixing it with an alcohol (such as methanol). This process is called transesterification and it creates two products glycerin and esters (usually methyl esters or alkyl esters which is the chemical name for most biodiesel).  The crude biodiesel is then further processed to remove excess water and other impurities. The standards for commercially sold biodiesel in the US is ASTM D6751.

What does ASTM D6751 mean?

Biodiesel to be sold in the United States must meet an industry standard which is ASTM D6751.  ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) D6751 is the specifications for B100 or 100% Biodiesel.  Biodiesel is usually blended with diesel fuel for retail sale.  This specification defines the properties of the biodiesel from the refiner prior to sale to the public. The properties include things like flashpoint, water content, oxidative stability, sulfur ppm (parts per million), and other specifics that this biodiesel needs to be at in order to hit these standards (Source).

Once a fuel is within all these properties it can be blended with diesel, which has its own ASTM standards, for more about ASTM D975 and other fuel specification concerns please see the Changes in Diesel Fuel – Technicians Guide for more and very in depth information.

Can biodiesel be used in normal diesel engines? / Which cars use biodiesel?

Regardless of where you are in the United States there is a reasonable expectation of purchasing biodiesel in your diesel fuel.  Formally, B5 is supported by all major OEMs selling diesel engines in the U.S. In 2016, at least 78 percent of diesel vehicles supported B20 (Source).  Regardless of what your owner manual says about biodiesel fuel, B20 biodiesel is a proven fuel and is automatically presumed for any new diesels on the road. In many parts of the United States B20 is a commonly found fuel at retail stations, commercial cardlocks, and national truck stop chains.

In the Pacific Northwest, where low CO2 emission policy is front and center, biodiesel can be expected to be found in every gallon of diesel sold in some form.

Oregon law says “All diesel fuel sold in the state must be blended with at least 5% biodiesel (B5) if that fuel is going to be used in vehicles. For the purpose of this mandate, biodiesel is defined as a motor vehicle fuel derived from vegetable oil, animal fat, or other non-petroleum resources, that is designated as B100 and complies with ASTM specification D6751. Renewable diesel qualifies as a substitute for biodiesel in the blending requirement” (Source).  Oregon and Washington has plenty of retail and commercial cardlock locations selling above 5% biodiesel as the defacto fuel given the incentives as well as low CO2 mandates in Oregon.

Can biodiesel be used for heating oil?

Yes. Biodiesel has been effectively used as a heating oil for over 20 years. In fact an in-depth report by the Sustainable Energy Technologies Department Energy Conversion Group shows that blends up to B50 can be used without needing to change or adjust your settings. Read our blog for a summary of this report.

Can biodiesel be mixed with conventional / regular diesel?

Most biodiesel that is sold is as a blended form with petroleum diesel. In a blend, the “B” stands for the amount of biodiesel that is included in the product. For example, B20 would be 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. Biodiesel can also be combined with renewable diesel – a blend of B20 would be called B20/R80 diesel.

[videopack id=”4038″]https://www.staroilco.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/B20-a-proven-fuel.mp4[/videopack]
Can biodiesel be used in diesel generators?

Yes. In fact, Oregon is one of several states that require biodiesel be blended into all diesel fuels. That means this fuel has been used successfully in the fuel supply for years. As with any fuel that can sit for extended amounts of time, we recommend you take proper precautions, such as using additives, to ensure your fuel is ready to be used when needed. If this is a concern, please contact us – we would love to talk to you about your storage needs.

Can biodiesel be made from animal fat?

Yes, biodiesel refers to (according to the National Biodiesel Board) a methyl ester made from chemically reacting lipids with an alcohol to produce fatty acid esters. This is called transesterification. The lipids could be sourced from many different types of oils, such as vegetable, soybean or animal fat based oils/tallows. For a deeper dive into some of the different types of feedstocks, read our blog.

Can biodiesel be used in airplanes?

Yes and no. There have been several tests using biofuels but fuel for aircrafts is different than regular diesel. Fuel gels at a plane’s flying altitude so aircrafts can’t use regular diesel or biodiesel. Several tests with biofuels have proven successful. Read more about the use of biofuels in the future.

Can biodiesel freeze?

Gelling is the term used for diesel fuel starting to freeze. The paraffin present in diesel starts to solidify and at lower temperatures, it can start to solidify and crystallize. Some blends of biodiesel at B20 and higher will gell at a higher temperatures than petro diesel. During the winter months, it’s important to use additives that combat this or use lower percentages of biodiesel for your fuel. In low enough temperatures, even petro diesel will freeze.

Can biodiesel replace oil? / Can biodiesel replace diesel / fossil fuels?

At this time, no. While the quality of the fuel for biodiesel and renewable diesel is as high as the petrodiesel we have today, the production of these fuels can’t meet the demand that is needed. This has to do with available feedstock and infrasturcture to recycle usable wastes.

The long answer to this question, though, is YES. As technology advances, there may be a time that all fuel is derived from waste and plant crops instead of petroleum.

For an idea where the market is going and how much fuel we are using here is a little bit more information on current usage.

In the early 2000’s, the biodiesel market was about 25 million gallons. In 2016, the market had grown to 2.8 billion and it’s still increasing. The on-road diesel demand is 35 billion to 40 billion gallons. The industry goal is to be producing 10 percent of the transportation market by 2022 (Source).

Which biodiesel is best?

Biodiesel that meets the ASTM D6751 is the best. While making your own biodiesel isn’t hard, keeping the fuel filtered and free of excess water is challenging. Finding a reputable provider that uses fuel that meets specs and also filters and treats your fuel like Star Oilco helps ensure you’re using the best fuel possible.

Which is biodiesel plant/crop? What crop/plant produces/yield biodiesel?

Any plant that produces an oil can be used to produce biodiesel. The plants and crops that are most likely to be used, would produce a lot of oil for the amount of work that goes into growing them. Some of the experimental crops are ones that grow in areas that don’t produce quality food, like Camelina sativa. A member of the mustard family, it grows well in poor soil and harsh conditions and doesn’t displace crops that produce food.

Here are the blogs we have posted so far about some of the biodiesel feedstocks that have been tested and used.

Feedstock: Babassu oil & Beef Tallow
Feedstock: Borage Oil & Camelina Oil
Feedstock: Algae Oil & Canola Oil
Feedstock: Castor Oil and Choice White Grease
Feedstock: Coconut Oil and Coffee Oil
Feedstock: Evening Primrose Oil and Fish Oil
Feedstocks: Hemp Oil & High IV and Low IV Hepar
Feedstocks: Jatropha Oil, Jojoba Oil, & Karania Oil
Feedstocks: Lesquerella Oil & Linseed Oil
Feedstocks: Moringa Oil & Neem Oil
Feedstocks: Palm Oil & Perilla Seed Oil
Feedstocks: Poultry Fat & Rice Bran Oil

Which is better: biodiesel or diesel?

Biodiesel has advantages of producing lower emissions, providing lubricity to the moving parts and being produced in the United States.

Diesel is more abundant, is easily created from crude oil, and has a lower gel point.

Which is better depends on what you are looking for.

Which states mandate biodiesel?

According to AFMP (American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers):

  • Minnesota: Has a B2 requirement year round (September 2005) and a summer requirement of B20 (May 2018).
  • Oregon: Requires a B5 reguirement year round (July 2007).
  • Washington: Requires 2% of the diesel sold in Washington to be biodiesel (December 2008). This can be substituted with Renewable Diesel (July 2009).
  • Pennsylvania: According to AFMP, “2% biodiesel for on-road compression ignition engines one year after annualized in-state production reaches 40 million gallons, 5% biodiesel (100 million gallons), 10% biodiesel (200 million gallons), and 20% biodiesel (400 million gallons)” (July 2008). Renewable diesel can substitute for up to 25% of this requirement, in addition to heating oil and off-road diesel (May 2011)
  • New Mexico: Requires B5 for all diesel vehicles (July 2012).

Which countries produce biodiesel? / Which countries use biodiesel?

global biodiesel production by country
Biodiesel is produced around the world, led by the U.S., Brazil and Germany.

The US produced 6 billion liters in 2017 or about 1.6 billion gallons. This website has the exact numbers for 2017, 2018 and some of 2019 production of biodiesel in the U.S.

Biodiesel in the US is largely made from soybeans at this time.

United States Month Biodiesel Production 2017 to 2019

Will biodiesel damage my engine? / Will biodiesel damage my car?

Biodiesel can be used in any car or engine that is using diesel. Biodiesel is a solvent this means that it may start cleaning the tank or pipes that previously just used petroleum fuel, for this reason fuel filters may clog initially.

How will biodiesel help save money?

It depends! If the price of a barrel of crude rises to a high level, biodiesel can be cheaper. In addition, if RIN’s are available (basically a credit for using biodiesel), they can lower the price of biodiesel and make it less expensive to use and purchase.

How will biodiesel help reduce pollution?

Petrodiesel uses crude oil, which is trapped CO2 from ages past. When it is burned, it releases this CO2 back into the air.Average Biodiesel Emissions Compared to Conventional Diesel When you use biodiesel, you’re using CO2 that is being captured by the growing plants or the waste. This is current CO2 you aren’t adding to the net sum in the environment.

As for regular pollutants, here is a chart that shows what using biodiesel does compared to conventional diesel. There is a significant reduction to pollutants that are expressed through the exhaust.

How long will ecodiesel last? / How long can biodiesel be stored?

Diesel, including biodiesel, does go bad after awhile. Diesel fuels adhering to ASTM specification should be safe for storage up to a year without additional treatment and testing. If you are storing diesel for long term use, it is a good best practice to treat the fuel with a biocide and oxidative stabilizer to ensure that the fuel stays within specification and nothing will begin to grow in your fuel tank. The biggest enemy of long term diesel storage is water and dirt entering the fuel through a tank vent. As temperatures change, a tank will breath, pulling in air and moisture from outside. Keep your fuel within specification by ensuring there is no water in the tank and that outside contaminants can’t get into a tank.

Where biodiesel is used? / Where is biodiesel used in the world?

Biodiesel use is encouraged by many countries and usage has increased greatly since 2001. This graph from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that the U.S. used 2.1 billion in 2016 or about 22% of the total amount of biodiesel used that year. Wikipedia lists 31 countries and explains the amount of biodiesel they use each year. World biodiesel consumption, 2016

Where to buy biodiesel?

If you live in Oregon, every gas station has at least 5% biodiesel. Cardlock locations throughout the states have stations with biodiesel blends. For other locations, this site is a great resource.

Where can biodiesel be used?

Legally, it can be used anywhere although some biodiesel derived from palm oil is restricted in certain countries.

When / where was biodiesel invented?

The definition of diesel is a liquid that uses compression and oxygen to ignite without the use of a spark. Rudolf Diesel created the diesel engine in Germany. The design for engines first used coal dust suspended in water and later vegetable oils, such as peanut oil. These fuels were later abandoned when petroleum became abundant and cheaper to produce.

Where does biodiesel fuel come from?

In the United States, the primary source for biodiesel is soy beans. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the feedstocks break down as such:

  • Soybean Oil – 52%
  • Canola Oil – 13%
  • Corn Oil – 13%
  • Recycled feedstocks – 12%
  • Animal Fats – 10%

Even with Soybean oil as the primary source, the remaining meal is used to produce food for animal feed. For more information on feedstocks of biodiesel, here is an ongoing blog we have been working on to examine the resulting fuels produced by the various feedstock.

Where are biodiesel plants?

Here is a list of sites in the United States.

When did biodiesel begin?

The original diesel engine ran on peanut oil, so technically biodisesel was first used in the 1890s. Most oils in the 1800s were from bio stocks. It wasn’t until petroleum became abundant and thus cheaper that biofuels and oils were abandoned for this cheaper source.

When does biodiesel gel?

The feedstock determines when biodiesel will gel. The most common feedstock is soy, which has a cloud point of 0°C (32°F) for B100. Petroleum diesel has a cloud point of -45°C (-49°F) to -7°C (19°F) (Source). Cloud point refers to when the paraffin begins to crystallize and the fuel looks a little cloudy.

Biodiesel and petrodiesel is usually blended and this lowers the cloud point of biodiesel in the fuel considerably. In addition, additives are frequently added during cold weather that further lowers the cloud point.

When is biodiesel day celebrated?

National Biodiesel Day is March 18th, which is also Rudolf Diesel’s birthday. August 10th is International Biodiesel Day, a celebration of Rudolf Diesel’s prime model running for the first time on August 10, 1893.

Who invented biodiesel?

The diesel engine is defined by “any internal-combustion engine in which air is compressed to a sufficiently high temperature to ignite diesel fuel injected into the cylinder, where combustion and expansion actuate a piston.” Until petroleum was developed as a cheaper alternative, animal and vegetable oil was used. One of the first fuels used in the diesel engine was peanut oil, and thus biodiesel was born.

Can you use 100% Biodiesel even in the winter?

The answer is YES.  While biodiesel has a lower cloud point then petroleum diesel there is a technology by Optimus Technologies called the Vector System. This allows a truck to start on regular diesel until it gets up to temp and switch over to run on up to 100% biodiesel.  The City of Ames, Iowa is one success story of this technology. (Story Here)

 

Dyed Off-Road Diesel
Every Question We Have Been Asked About Off-Road Diesel 700 700 Star Oilco

Every Question We Have Been Asked About Off-Road Diesel

Got questions about Red Dyed Diesel?  We have answers!

(If you do not see the answer you need, message or call Star Oilco.  We will gladly answer that too.)

Dyed Off-Road Diesel

What is red diesel?

Red Diesel is Off-road diesel, in the United States this fuel is denoted with a red dye. The dye marks this as fuel for off-road equipment and vehicles and as such it doesn’t have road fuel taxes included in the price.  This dye takes a great deal of clear fuel to dilute so it makes it very obvious if an on-road vehicle has been using off-road untaxed fuel. Tax authorities can and do check for vehicles using off-road red diesel in on-road vehicles. They do this by using a black light to spot any residual presence of dye in the fuel as well as at key places in the engine compartment.

What is green diesel?

On-road diesel is clear or slightly green. Refineries place a green dye into diesel fuel which is obvious if fuel is freshly dispensed into a bottle to observe its color. As fuel ages this dye fades to yellow or darker colors. Part of a visual observation to inspect diesel fuel quality is to check the fuel for a “bright” appearance with the slight green dye being a giveaway that the diesel is fresh and in good condition.

What is dyed diesel?

Nearly all diesel has dye in it. Typically when talking about dyed diesel, we’re referring to a red dye added to off-road diesel. Off-road diesel is normally used for heating oil, construction fueling, agricultural use, and other off-road equipment not used on the highway system where fuel taxes would be required by law.

What is farm diesel?

Farm or diesel for agricultural use is off-road diesel that is not charged on-road fuel taxes. Agricultural use fuel is a tax-exempt use of diesel fuel. If diesel is burned on a farm and can be tracked for such, taxes can be avoided. Farms are allowed to receive clear diesel without road taxes charged on it in Oregon. Often it is dyed red to denote it is tax free. In Oregon, where P.U.C. for trucks over 26,000 GVW pay a weight mile tax instead of a per gallon state road tax, some farms will track their use of clear diesel so they can file for Federal road taxes on off-road usage.

What color is dyed diesel?

All diesel sold in the United States typically has some dye in it. On-road diesel usually has a slight green tint to it. This is a dye added by either the refiner or terminal provider with the fuel. Off road diesels are dyed red to denote that the fuel is untaxed and is for use in off-road purposes only.

What is the red dye used to turn off-road diesel red?

Solvent Red 26 and Solvent Red 164 are the allowed dyes prescribed by the United States Internal Revenue Service for marking diesel as for un-taxed off-road use only.

Why is diesel dyed?

Diesel is dyed in order to denote if it has paid road tax or not. On-road diesel in the United States usually has a light green tint to it. Off-road diesel has a red dye to denote it has not paid road taxes as required by all states and the Federal government.

Dyed Diesel also called Red Diesel is used for vehicles that don't drive on public roads.

What is off-road diesel?

Off-road diesel is diesel fuel dyed red to show it is untaxed and available only for off-road fuel uses such as construction fueling, equipment never used on a public road, agricultural use, heating oil, boiler fuel, and other non-taxed diesel fuel uses under state and Federal fuel tax law. In Oregon, with proper paperwork, some off-road uses can buy on-road fuel with the Oregon state tax exemption.

Is dyed or off-road diesel flammable?

Off-road diesel is classified as a Class II combustible liquid by the National Fire Code. A flammable fuel is one with a flash point below 100 degrees F. Diesel’s flash point is between 126 and 205 degrees F (typically assumed to be about 160 degrees F).  That classifies it as a Class II combustible.

Is off-road diesel or dyed diesel high sulfur diesel?

Dyed diesel (or off-road diesel) can be high sulfur fuel. High sulfur diesel is defined as diesel fuel with over 500 parts per million of sulfur content.

Is off-road diesel or dyed diesel ultra-low sulfur diesel?

Off-road and dyed diesel fuels can be ultra-low sulfur but are not guaranteed to be. There has been a consistent push to reduce sulfur in all fuels in the United States as led by EPA regulation. In recent years, EPA standards require off-road construction and agricultural equipment to have an emissions system that allow ultra-low sulfur to operate without major problems. So today’s off-road diesel being delivered is ultra-low sulfur. If you have a tank with old stored dyed red diesel fuel in it, you can assume it has a higher than ultra-low sulfur content.

What is dyed ULSD fuel?

Dyed ULSD fuel is ultra-low sulfur diesel with a red dye in it to denote that it is for off-road or untaxed purposes only. These purposes are typically for heating oil, construction fuel, agricultural fuel, generator fuel or other off-road uses. The “ULSD” is an acronym for ultra-low sulfur diesel.

Is dyed diesel #1 or # 2 diesel?

Dyed diesel can be either #1 or #2 diesel. Both fuels require a red dye in them to confirm they are untaxed and cannot be used for on road fuels.

Why does the government require diesel be dyed red?

From a informational pamphlet from the US IRS on untaxed fuel:

“The federal government requires dyeing of untaxed diesel fuel and kerosene for two reasons. To help reduce tax evasion by identifying fuel on which excise taxes have not been paid, and to help reduce air pollution by identifying fuel not suitable for use in highway vehicles.”

Is dyed diesel and off-road diesel kerosene?

Dyed diesel and off-road diesel can be kerosene (which crosses as #1 diesel fuel), but not necessarily. Do not assume a dyed fuel is kerosene, which is a rarer fuel. Kerosene is different than #1 diesel for one characteristic: its confirmed ability to be absorbed and taken up by a wick. All kerosene is #1 diesel.  Not all #1 diesel fuels are kerosene. The same goes for dyed diesels and off-road fuels. All dyed kerosene is dyed and off-road diesel. Not all dyed fuel is kerosene.

Is dyed diesel and off-road diesel stove oil?

Yes, dyed diesel and off-road diesel are stove oil. Typically a #1 stove oil or #2 stove oil, similar to diesel. Historically stove oils had a slightly different set of specification concerns which is why they were called “stove oils” versus diesel. When petroleum refineries distilled crude oils to get diesel range fuels, it was less exact than it is today with hydrocracking technology. Today with both oil refinery technologies and the EPA emission regulations, the number of distillate range fuel specifications is far more consolidated in order to ensure compliance with EPA and state rules. If your heating appliance is demanding stove oil, it typically needs a #1 stove oil or #1 kerosene product. This product is expected to produce less soot and therefore to work better in a pot stove type of application. The most modern stove oil appliance in the U.S. are Monitor and Toyostove thermostatically controlled direct vent heaters.

Is off-road diesel bad for my truck?

Depends on the year of your truck, and we assume you mean red dyed diesel fuel.  First, using dyed diesel, off road diesel, or heating oil in an on-road vehicle is against the law.  If you are caught in Oregon the fine can be as big as $10,000 and the State of Oregon does aggressively pursue this type of tax avoidance.  Beyond the legal use of off-road fuel.  Typically on the west coast dyed diesel is ultra low sulfur diesel. Which means it will not cause maintenance issues if burned in your engine.  Dependent on the age of the dyed fuel, or if it is actually a heating oil, it might be high sulfur or low sulfur fuel. If you use that in a post 2007 engine with a particulate trap it will have serious maintenance issues if you use that fuel.

Is dyed diesel or off-road diesel heating oil?

Yes, dyed diesel and off-road diesel are acceptably used as heating oil. Dyed diesel and off-road diesel these days are typically ultra-low sulfur diesel. Heating oil can be low sulfur or high sulfur in content under EPA and most state laws. So heating oil sometimes cannot be dyed diesel (when used for off-road equipment or agricultural use) but dyed/off-road diesel can always be used for heating oil and conform to the necessary specification required by heating oil furnaces.

Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel is 15 PPM

Does off-road diesel have sulfur in it?

Yes! But in today’s ultra-low sulfur market, most off-road diesel is below 15 parts per million. If your equipment requires ultra-low sulfur diesel, it is a good practice to confirm that is what fuel you are getting. Some low sulfur diesel (under 500 parts per million sulfur fuel) and high sulfur diesel (over 500 parts per million sulfur) is still in the marketplace used by heating oil, boiler systems, locomotive, and marine applications.

Does off-road diesel freeze?

Off-road diesel gels at cold temperatures. At colder temperatures, wax crystals begin to form and fall out of the diesel, clogging filters and gelling up the fuel. Also, the water and naturally held-in diesel will ice up and obstruct filters. This phenomenon is called diesel gelling.

Does off-road diesel gel in cold weather?

All diesel fuels will gel if it gets cold enough. Both a formation of wax crystals and ice forming in your fuel will obstruct filters and take your equipment down. Rule of thumb: with no treatment your diesel fuel should operate without any issues above 20 degrees F. Below 20 degrees F, you will want to ensure your vendor is treating the fuel for winter use to ensure it will operate down to -20 degrees F.  If you are facing temperatures below that, you will want to confirm with your vendor that they are testing that fuel to operate below -20 degrees F.

Diesel Testing and Storage in Portland

Does off-road diesel go bad?

Off-road and dyed diesel do age and can go bad. All diesel fuels adhering to ASTM specification should be safe for storage up to a year without additional treatment and testing. If you are storing diesel for long term use, it is a good best practice to treat the fuel with a biocide and oxidative stabilizer to ensure that the fuel stays within specification and nothing will begin to grow in your fuel tank. The biggest enemy of long term diesel storage is water and dirt entering the fuel through a tank vent. As temperatures change a tank will breath pulling in air and moisture from outside. Ensuring there is no water in the tank and that outside contaminants can’t get into a tank are how keep your fuel within specification.

How long can I store off-road or dyed diesel in a fuel tank?

Untreated, you can assume that diesel fuel is good for a year. If treated with a biocide to prevent biological growth from growing in the tank, you can expect diesel to be good for two to three years. After two to three years, diesel begins to show age as it loses its brightness when sampled. After three years you will want to sample and test the fuel to ensure it is within specification for reliable use.

What is the difference between off-road diesel and on-road diesel?

Fuel taxes charged is the big difference between the two fuels. All on-road diesel is clear or greenish in color to denote it is both ultra-low sulfur diesel and the on-road fuel taxes associated with using it to power a highway vehicle have been paid. Dyed fuel means that fuel taxes are not paid and that the fuel can not be used to power a vehicle on a public road.

Oregon Diesel Taxes Explained

What are the fuel taxes on off-road diesel?

Fuel taxes vary by state and sometimes even local municipality. With off-road diesel, usually the only taxes to consider are sales taxes on the fuel. In Oregon there are no taxes on dyed off-road fuel. In Washington state there are sales taxes for dyed-diesel charged on top of the sale price of the fuel. (NOTE: If you use clear diesel in Washington state there is no sales tax as the road tax is being charged.)  If you are curious for a more in depth answer Star Oilco has a full explanation of Oregon Diesel Taxes (a unique system in the United States for local fuel tax collection of trucks over 26,000 GVW).

Do you pay sales tax on dyed diesel or off-road diesel in Washington state?

Yes. If you are consuming dyed diesel and are not paying for the on-road fuel taxes in Washington state, the sales tax is charged. If you use clear fuel with road taxes attached to the fuel, the sales tax is not charged. For more on Washington fuel taxes see the Washington Department of Revenue.

What are the taxes on dyed diesel or off-road diesel in Oregon state?

Your petroleum distributor has some small taxes (under $.01) attached to the fuel they buy at the wholesale terminal level. Those taxes being the U.S. EPA Superfund cleanup and the “LUST” or Leaking Underground Storage Tank cleanup fund. Beyond that, there are no taxes (Federal, state or local municipality) on fuel used for off-road diesel in Oregon state.

Is there a way to buy clear diesel without a road tax on it?

In Oregon you can buy clear fuel exempt of Oregon’s state road taxes. The qualifications for using clear diesel Oregon State tax exempt are the following:

  • vehicles issued a valid ODOT Motor Carrier permit or pass (weight receipt)
  • vehicles issued a valid Use Fuel User emblem by the ODOT Fuels Tax Group
  • vehicles registered to a US government agency, Oregon state agency, Oregon county or city, and displays a valid Oregon “E” plate
  • vehicles, or farm tractors/equipment only incidentally operated on the highway as defined in ORS 319.520
  • vehicles or equipment that are unlicensed and/or used exclusively on privately owned property

What happens if I use dyed diesel in an on-road vehicle?

If you get caught in Oregon, a $10,000 a day fine can be levied. We have seen fuel tax cheats get caught repeatedly so be aware Oregon is on the look out for any amount of dye in the saddle tank of an on-road vehicle. If the fuel you use is low sulfur or high sulfur fuel and your vehicle has a particulate trap, you will have maintenance issues with the emission system of your vehicle.

Can you use dyed diesel in a diesel pickup truck?

Only if that pickup is dedicated to an off-road use. If you plan to ever use that truck on a public road (even to cross a street), and dyed fuel is found in that vehicle, fines up to $10,000 per occurrence can (and are) levied by state regulators. If you have a closed facility or large farm and are not registering the vehicle for on-road use (so the pickup must not leave the site), you can use off-road diesel as the vehicle’s fuel. If you have license plates and it’s permitted for on-road use, any regulator spotting dyed fuel in that truck will presume it is an on-road pickup.

How does the government test if someone used dyed diesel?

Typically when checking for illegal use of dyed fuel, regulators will sample from the tank or spin the fuel filter and observe for obvious dyed fuel. If the fuel is clear (or even slightly pink) and they suspect dyed fuel was used in the vehicle, they can apply a special black light that will glow an obvious color denoting dyed fuel had been in contact with the vehicle. They will shine that light on the filter, fuel tanks, and various parts in the engine compartment that would have come into contact with the fuel. If those areas denote even a mild trace of the red-dye used in off-road diesel, they will cite the vehicle operator. There are kits sold online for filtering dye out of fuel to remove the color.  Those kits will not remove enough dye to avoid detection by these lights.

Why is off road diesel illegal for pick up trucks to use?

Off road diesel is dyed red to show that the on-road fuel taxes are not paid or that it is a tax-free fuel.  The Federal Government and State Government’s have fuel taxes for on-road fuel usage to help pay for the roads we all drive on.  If you are using diesel for a non-road equipment, machinery, or heating/boiler applications the fuel taxes are exempt and the fuel is dyed to ensure it’s tax free status is immediately seen.  Regulators in a road side or site level inspection can also shine a black light on specific places in a vehicles system to denote if dyed fuel is being used in violation of the law as well.

 

What is the difference between dyed diesel and heating oil?

In the Pacific Northwest at the current moment? Usually nothing. Heating oil is dyed diesel. Most petroleum distributors are selling the mainstream dyed diesel specification for use as heating oil in order to lower the overall cost of the fuel. There are different ASTM specifications for heating oil and dyed diesel dependent on the state you buy it in. Heating oil’s specification has wider tolerances than diesel specifications as furnaces and boilers can handle dirtier, lower quality fuels than off-road equipment with a particulate trap. Heating oil is always a diesel fuel, but sometimes dyed diesel for off-road equipment has a different specification than heating oil. For example, in Oregon a 5% biodiesel or 5% renewable diesel mandate exists for any dyed diesel fuel used in off-road equipment. This biofuel mandate exempts heating oil and boilers. So heating oil can be biodiesel free but off-road diesel for equipment cannot.

Can refrigerated trailers or “reefers” use dyed diesel even if they are attached to a truck moving it on the highway?

Yes, refrigerated trailers are off-road equipment. The diesel fueled refrigeration trailer is off-road equipment as its engine is not powering something actually driving down the road. These trailers can use any ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (dyed or clear). If using on-road clear fuel in a refrigerated trailer, if you track and keep proof of the on-road fuel being used in the off-road piece of equipment, you can file for those fuel taxes back. Proof is required though so consult with your CPA or accountant.

How do I order off-road diesel for a construction project?

The first step is to set up an account with Star Oilco. It’s easy to pay through a simple credit application or by placing a credit card on the account. Oregon and Washington are highly regulated when it comes to fuels such as diesel. We need to account for who is ordering and getting fuel (yes, Oregon even checks sometimes as the DEQ tracks every gallon of diesel moving into the state). Determine if you want a loaner tank onsite or a keep-full service plan. Star Oilco will deliver bulk or wet hose fuel your job site on a regular schedule. We are here to make it as easy as possible for you to focus on your project, not fueling. Let us know what you want: we will keep it simple and make it easy for you.

How do I stop biological growth in my off-road diesel fuel tank?

If you are storing off-road or dyed diesel for longer than six months you will want to make sure it is stabalized. Star Oilco recommends Valvtect Plus Six as the fuel additive you want to use.  Our recommended fuel additive is a fuel microbiocide with stability additives made for diesel long term storage.  This kills and prevents the growth of biological “hum-bugs” in your tank.  Bacteria, yeast, and algae can grow in your fuel tank. Usually in a small amount of water that collects in the bottom of the fuel storage tank (be it the bulk tank you  fuel out of or the saddle tank on your equipment).

How do I get water out of my off-road diesel equipment’s fuel tank?

There are several ways to do this.  What you will want to do varies based on how much water and what it is in.  If you are dealing with a large bulk fuel tank you want to definitely pump the tank bottom to get the water out.  If you are seeing extreme biological activity (Hum-Bug growing in your tank) you want to do a kill dose treatment on that tank. It might not be a bad idea to also spend a few thousand dollars to have a professional tank cleaning company come in and manually clean the tank prior to adding the kill dose to kill anything growing in your tank.  If it’s the tank on your equipment usually the best route is to drain the tank, flush the tank, and also put a kill dose of  a fuel microbiocide to make sure nothing continues to grow.  If you want to talk to someone feel free to call Star Oilco, you do not need to be our customer for us to walk through some solutions you can do yourself.

Where can I buy Off-Road or Dyed Diesel?

There are a very few rural gas stations that provide this fuel.  Some Pacific Pride or CFN cardlock locations also have pump available for this fuel.  The easiest way to acquire this fuel is through a fuel company.  Star Oilco is one such company that can deliver dyed diesel for it’s customers, or provide cardlock cards for its customers.

About Diesel Fuel 150 150 Star Oilco

About Diesel Fuel

Bulk Diesel Fuel Frequently Asked Questions

Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel is 15 PPMDyed Off-Road Diesel

Where your diesel comes from and what you need to know about ASTM Diesel Standards and ISO cleanliness code.

Where do Pacific Northwest vendors get their fuel?

In the Pacific Northwest, diesel is fungible. Everyone buys their fuel from each other in some way or another.  

This means that every refiner is typically expecting to mix their diesel and gasoline products. The real difference is in the care a vendor takes to filter the fuel, additize and continuously check their fuel quality. If you are buying at the absolute lowest price possible, know that there is an incentive to skip any added value of quality assurance.

Through its Pacific Operations unit, Kinder Morgan operates approximately 3,000 miles of refined products pipeline that serves Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Texas. With roots dating back to 1956, it is the largest products pipeline in the Western U.S., transporting more than one million barrels per day of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel to our customers. The company-owned terminals also provide additional services, such as liquid petroleum product storage and loading facilities for delivery trucks.

Diesel Fuels

In the United States, diesel fuel is controlled according the American Society for Testing and Materials Standard D975-97.  This standard describes a limited number of properties that diesel fuels must meet.  It should be noted that the requirements are all performance- based.  They do not mandate the composition of the fuel, only the specific performance related requirements demanded of a fuel for a diesel engine.  The requirements of D975 are described below. 

ASTM Specifications for Diesel Fuel Oils (D975)*

* You can go to the source of ASTM HERE if you have an interest in really getting in depth.

Diesel fuel is characterized in the United States by the ASTM standard D975.  This standard identifies five grades of diesel fuel. We are only going to talk about the two most popular commercially diesel fuel used — No 1 and No. 2 diesel. The ASTM D975 standard is made up of a series of different tests that check the characteristic ranges of a fuel to confirm it is adequate to operate in your equipment. In simple terms, they are checking for specific gravity, the vapor point (when it turns into a gas), the flash point (when it catches fire), the dirt content, water content (how much microscopic entrained water), and a host of other requirements diesel must meet in order to be legal to be sold for use in your engine.

Grade No. 1-D and Ultra-Low Sulfur 1-D: This is a light distillate fuel for applications requiring a higher volatility fuel to accommodate rapidly fluctuating loads and speeds, as in light trucks and buses. The specification for this grade of diesel fuel overlaps with kerosene and jet fuel, and all three are commonly produced from the same base stock. One major use for No. 1-D diesel fuel is to blend with No. 2-D during winter to provide improved cold flow properties.  Ultra Ultra-Low sulfur fuel is required for on-highway use with sulfur level < 0.05%. 

Grade No. 2-D and Ultra-Low Sulfur 2-D:  This is a middle- or mid-grade distillate fuel for applications that do not require a high volatility fuel. Typical applications include high-speed engines that operate for sustained periods at high load. Ultra-Low sulfur fuel is required for on-highway use with sulfur level < 0.05%.

RecologyDealing with Dirty Fuel and Today’s Tier 4 Engines

Water and dirt are the biggest concerns for fuel quality. Why? Because no matter how perfect fuel is refined, these two elements can find their way into fuel and crash its performance. Water and dirt often build up in tanks just from the temperature change between night and day, causing a bulk fuel tank to breathe. Condensation and dust can also find their way into a bulk storage tank. If not addressed, they build up and will cause mechanical failures.

Dirty fuel will cause premature parts failure in equipment of any age. But newer equipment has far tighter tolerances than what we saw in previous decades. Today’s new and improved Tier 4 rail injector engines are more efficient, they burn cleaner, and run better, they are more powerful than ever before. But there are things that make fuel quality more important than ever. Because of the extremely high pressures (upwards of 35,000psi at the injector tip), the possibility of damage from dirty wet fuel is more prevalent than ever. This damage is much more pronounced in newer equipment with High Pressure Common Rail (HPCR) fuel systems. Hard particulate is commonly referred to as “dirt,” but is in fact made up of a wide variety of materials found at job sites (coal, iron, salt, etc.), generated by fuel tanks and lines (rust, corrosion, etc.) and inside engines (carbonaceous materials and wear particles).

Frequent diesel fuel filter changes — as well as the expensive, and time consuming, task of cleaning diesel fuel tanks — have become acceptable periodic maintenance, instead of a warning signal, for diesel engine failure. Diesel fuel filter elements should last a thousand hours or more, and injectors should endure 15,000 hours. However, since diesel fuel is inherently unstable, solids begin to form and the accumulating tank sludge will eventually clog your diesel fuel filters, ruin your injectors and cause diesel engines to smoke.

Symptoms

  • Clogged and slimy filters
  • Dark, hazy fuel
  • Floating debris in tanks
  • Sludge build up in tanks
  • Loss of power and RPM
  • Excessive smoke
  • Corroded, pitted injectors
  • Foul odor

The solids that form as the result of the inherent instability of the diesel fuel and the debris formed in the natural process of fuel degradation will accumulate in the bottom of your fuel tank. The sludge will form a coating or “bio-film” on the walls and baffles of the fuel tank, plug your fuel filters, adversely impact combustion efficiency, produce dark smoke from the exhaust, form acids that degrade injectors and fuel pumps, and impact performance. Eventually, fouled diesel fuel will clog fuel lines and ruin your equipment.

The Bigger Picture: ISO (International Standardization Organization)ISO Chart 1

In today’s world, the definition of what constitutes clean or dirty fuel is critically important and, as such, fuel cleanliness levels are now measured and reported according to the ISO Cleanliness Code 4406:1999. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created the cleanliness code to quantify particulate contamination levels per milliliter of fluid at three sizes: 4μ, 6μ, 14μ. Microns.

Fuel Cleanliness vs. Engine Technology

Fuel cleanliness levels using the ISO4406:1999 method were officially documented as a global standard only as recently as 1998 with the development of the Worldwide Fuels Charter (WWFC). Since its inception, the charter has established a minimum cleanliness level for each of the diesel fuels under various available categories around the world.

Most mainstream engine OEM’s now subscribe to these standards. Interestingly (and somewhat troubling to note), however, is that fuel cleanliness levels as specified by engine OEM’s and the WWFC have not changed since their inception in 1998, despite the enormous advances in fuel injection technology. This relationship is best represented in the previous table that identifies the advances in fuel injection systems and clearly highlights how OEM’s and the WWFC have not responded to reduce fuel cleanliness in accordance with advancements in technology.

Diesel Fuel Injection – Advancing Technologies & Cleanliness Levels

ISO Chart 4This table  identifies that, over time, fuel injector critical clearances have halved and fuel pressures have doubled, yet the level of fuel cleanliness being specified has not changed in accordance with such advancements. In fact, the same cleanliness levels specified in 2000 are still being used today despite these magnificent technological design advancements by engine manufacturers worldwide.

Leading fuel injector manufacturers around the world have clearly identified and communicated that they require ULSD fuels with ISO fuel cleanliness levels as low as ISO12/9/6 to maintain ultimate performance and reliability. It is here where we see an enormous mismatch in what the fuel injection OEM desires as a fuel cleanliness level, to what the engine OEM’s and the WWFC are advising the industry. The following table identifies the discrepancies in fuel cleanliness levels.

Diesel Cleanliness Levels

 ISO Chart 3                        

 

 

 

 

 

WWFC Diesel Category Fuel Cleanliness Standards                                                                                                      ISO Chart 5

 

 

 

 

Damage Caused by Hard Particulate

Hard particulates cause problems with moving parts in the fuel system. This can lead to starting problems, poor engine performance, idling issues and, potentially, complete engine failure. All too common, hard particulates damage engines.

The spray pattern generated by the HPCR injector is critical for proper combustion and overall fuel system performance. (1) sm-injector-with-red-light-Bosch

It must be extremely precise in terms of quantity, distribution and timing. Ball seat valves are sealed with balls that are only 1mm in diameter. A good seal is absolutely necessary for proper injection. Damage from erosive wear, such as shown below, will cause over fueling, leading to decreased fuel efficiency and eventually shut you down altogether.

hpcr injector damaged by hard particulate(3) high-pressure-fuel-system-wear

Pump performance can also be compromised by scoring and abrasive wear. These issues are magnified by tighter tolerances and extreme pressures in HPCR engines. In these circumstances, it is the smallest particles (1-5 microns in size) that cause the most damage, virtually sand blasting part surfaces.

Allowable Levels of Hard Particulate 

(4) dirt-in-vs-allowed-in-1000-gal-dieselIn some parts of the world, 10,000 gallons (38,000 liters) of “typical” diesel contains 1-1/2 lbs (700 grams) of hard particulate; this is 1000 times more than the 1/4 oz. (0.7 grams) per 10,000 gallons (38,000 liters) that is allowed by the cleanliness requirements of high pressure common rail fuel systems. In reality, there is no “OK” level of hard particulate. Injector manufacturers are very clear that damage caused by hard particulate reaching the engine is not a factory defect, but rather the result of dirty diesel that is not fit for use in HPCR fuel systems. At the end of the day, the end user is responsible for the fuel he puts into his equipment, and the consequences thereof.

How Dirt Enters Fuel

Dust and dirt are all around us, especially on job sites. Diesel fuel is fairly clean when it leaves the refinery but becomes contaminated each time it is transferred or stored. Below you will find some of the key contributors of fuel contamination:

Pipelines: Most pipelines are not new, and certainly not in pristine condition. Corrosion inhibitors are added at most refineries to help protect pipelines, but rust and other hard particulate is nevertheless picked up by the fuel that flows through them.

Barges and rail cars: How often are they drained and scrubbed out? What was in the last load? Where did it come from? How much of it was still in the tank when your load was picked up? How long was it in transit? Is the tank hermetically sealed? There are many opportunities for contaminants to make their way into the fuel.

Terminal tanks: Terminal tanks usually see a high rate of turnover, so there is not much time for the fuel to pick-up contamination from outside ingress. Has the tank ever received a “bad load” from a pipeline or a barge? Has larger dirt had a chance to settle on the bottom of the tank? How often has it been cleaned out? Was it just filled? Did the bottom get churned up in the process? How full was the tank when your fuel was loaded into the delivery truck? There are many variables that can affect fuel cleanliness.

Delivery trucks: All the same issues that apply to stationary tanks also apply to tanker trucks, except that truck tanks never get a chance to settle. In addition, have you ever considered how much dirt gets into that tanker while it is delivering fuel to a customer, potentially a customer in an extremely dusty environment? As fuel flows out, air is sucked in to displace it. Is there anything protecting the inside of the tank from all the dust in the air? Generally not. Venting is typically completely unprotected, as seen in the image to the right.

Storage tanks: Onsite bulk storage tanks typically see less rapid turn-over than terminal tanks. In addition to those issues, yard and jobsite tanks can also develop serious problems with other sources of contamination, such as the ingress of dirt and water, condensation, rust, corrosion, microbial growth, glycerin fall-out and additive instability. Time and temperature become big factors affecting fuel quality.

Dispensing process: How far does your diesel need to travel between the bulk tank and the dispenser? The more pipe it runs though, the more potential there is for contamination. Are your dispenser nozzles kept clean? Are they ever dropped on the ground? Then what? What about the vehicles’ fuel tank inlets, are they clean? Think about the extremely tight tolerances in your fuel system, then take another look at housekeeping issues. You will see them through new eyes.

Onboard fuel tanks: Contamination continues even after the fuel is in the equipment. What has that tank seen in the past? Has it been left stagnant for long periods? What kind of protection is there on the equipment’s air intake vents? Heavy equipment does hard, dirty work.

Engines: Unfortunately, even if the fuel in your tank could be perfect, additional contamination is generated by the fuel system itself. Wear particles are created by mechanical friction. High heat and extreme pressure generated inside the modern engine, lead to coking and the creation of carbon products at the injector. Much of this internally-produced particulate is returned to the fuel tank, along with the unburned diesel.

The Bottom Line

No one gets special fuel, no one has better fuel, no one has cleaner fuel. Diesel fuel vendors get the same fuel, from the same pipeline, delivered to the same terminals. We all wait in the same lines with our tank trucks to get that same fuel. So ask yourself: Given that the fuel is the same, what sets one vendor apart from all the others? Star Oilco Premium Diesel fuel is treated with Hydrotex PowerKleen® additive running through Donaldson filtration systems.

Clean, dry, premium diesel

FURTHER READING ON DIESEL FUEL:

Read about Star Oilco’s approach to Fuel Quality Assurance: Star Oilco – Precision Fuel Management

Read about dealing with biological growth in your diesel tank: Bioguard Plus 6 biocide treatment for diesel

Get Chevron’s Technical Manual to Diesel Fuel (essentially an easy to read text book on diesel): Chevron’s Fuel Technical Review

Get a white paper from Donaldson Filtration on tier 4 engines and fuel cleanliness: Donaldson on Tier 4 Engine Fuel Contamination

Read more about Donaldson Desiccant Breathers for bulk diesel tanks: Why use a Donaldson Desiccant Breather for a bulk diesel storage tank.

What Types of Feedstock Can Be Used To Make Biodiesel? 150 150 Star Oilco

What Types of Feedstock Can Be Used To Make Biodiesel?

To answer what feedstocks can be used to make biodiesel we need to first answer – What is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel is created through a process called transesterification.  Transecterification is when an alcohol such as methanol or ethanol is added to an oil or fat.  This creates methyl esters and glycerin.  Methyl esters is the scientific name of Biodiesel.  Because biodiesel needs a fat or an oil to start with, this fuel can can be created with any number of feedstocks.  If you would like to learn more about Biodiesel check out this for more questions about biodiesel.

According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy:

“A feedstock is defined as any renewable, biological material that can be used directly as a fuel, or converted to another form of fuel or energy product. Biomass feedstocks are the plant and algal materials used to derive fuels like ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, and other hydrocarbon fuels. Examples of biomass feedstocks include corn starch, sugarcane juice, crop residues  such as corn stover and sugarcane bagasse, purpose-grown grass crops, and woody plants. “

Renewable Energy Group (REG) performed a study in 2009 with the support of the Iowa Power Fund Board and the Iowa Office of Energy Independence that tested 36 individual feed-stocks.  Star Oilco will be spotlighting these feedstocks through our blog and our social media. The full report can be found on their site if you would like to read ahead or explore the results in more depth. We hope you find these as interesting as we did!

Bio-diesel and Feed-stock samples at REG

Above photo taken at REG headquarters in Ames, Iowa.

This first blog highlights the following 2 types of feed-stock:

Babussa Oil & Beef Tallow

Babassu Oil

Attalea speciosa

Babassu oil is extracted from the seeds of the babassu palm tree, Attalea speciosa, an evergreen tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a slow rate. It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is not frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects. The tree is common in Brazil, Mexico, and Honduras; it grows well in areas typically cultivated for coconut or palm. The kernels contain 60-70% oil, appear transparent, and smell like walnuts. In its natural form the oil is liquid at 20-30°C (68 – 86°F). The seeds are edible and the oil is used in margarine, soaps, detergents, lamp oil and skin products. Oil extraction results in a cake containing 15-25% protein (depending on the shell content), which is a valuable feedstuff.

In February 2008, Babassu palm oil and coconut oil were blended with jet fuel to power a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 during a test flight from London’s Heathrow to Amsterdam.

Babassu oil is extracted from the seeds of the babassu palm treeBabassu Oil Chart

Beef Tallow

Tallow is a rendered form of the waste fats and greases from processing beef. Rendering is a process by which lipid material is separated from meat tissue and water under heat and pressure. Beef tallow is primarily made up of triglycerides and it is solid at room temperature. The B100 that is created from this source has a very high cloud point. “Cloud point is the temperature at which wax (paraffin) begins to separate when oil chilled to a low temperature, and it serves as an important indicator of practical performance in automotive applications in low temperatures.”  (Source)  The other uses for tallow include animal feed, soap, cooking and in the past, candles.

Beef Tallow Animal tissue is converted to tallow using rendering; a process by which lipid material is separated from meat tissue and water under heat and pressure.Beef Tallow Chart

 

Article 2 Feedstock : Borage Oil & Camelina Oil

Article 3 Feedstock : Algae Oil & Canola Oil.

Article 4 Feedstock : Castor Oil and Choice White Grease

Article 5 Feedstock : Coconut Oil and Coffee Oil

Article 6 Feedstock : Evening Primrose Oil and Fish Oil

Article 7 Feedstocks : Hemp Oil & High IV and Low IV Hepar

Article 8 Feedstocks : Jatropha Oil, Jojoba Oil, & Karania Oil

Article 9 Feedstocks : Lesquerella Oil & Linseed Oil

Article 10 Feedstocks – Moringa Oil & Neem Oil

Article 11 Feedstocks – Palm Oil & Perilla Seed Oil

Article 12 Feedstocks – Poultry Fat & Rice Bran Oil

Article 13 Feedstocks – Soybean Oil & Stillingia Oil

Article 14 Feedstocks – Sunflower Oil & Tung Oil

How do you restart your oil furnace after running out of oil? 150 150 Star Oilco

How do you restart your oil furnace after running out of oil?

The number of heating oil companies that deliver in Oregon and Washington has dropped in recent years. With that, many longtime and loyal heating oil users have seen their preferred heating oil company and driver go away. Due to that change the new larger roll up heating oil companies are not as responsive as your old smaller company. Star Oilco has been keeping homes in the Portland area warm since 1936 and we want to be there for you. We are locally owned, veteran-owned, and are multi-generation family owned and operated.

If you are out of oil, please let us know and we will make a special effort to prioritize you even if you have never bought heating oil from us before.

We provide the following instructions as a best practice. We do not recommend inexperienced and untrained home owners putting tools on their furnace for any reason.

IF YOUR FURNACE DOES NOT START AFTER A FIRST ATTEMPT PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL HVAC TECHNICIAN FOR HELP.

When do you run out of heating oil? It’s always when winter seems to be at it’s coldest. It also doesn’t help that after you run out and finally get a delivery of heating oil your furnace doesn’t want to start. The cause of this can be many things. From air in your fuel line to a clogged nozzle on your heating oil furnace. Sometimes it is a simple home owner fix. Other times it will take a professional HVAC technician with experience in oil heat (natural gas and oil furnaces are very different things).

If your furnace runs out of oil, we recommend you lower your thermostat only until after you receive your delivery of oil.

After receiving your oil delivery and making sure the tank has settled for a few minutes, turn the thermostat back up to the desired temperature.

Go to your oil furnace and look at the burner, which probably looks like what is shown. To the right in the picture is a little red button.  The red button can look different dependent on your model of furnace and might also look like the several options below.

Push the red button once. Again, only push this button once. After pushing this button, your furnace will attempt to fire up and move fuel. If your furnace begins to start, but then shuts off again DO NOT push the button again. If you push the button three times your furnace will usually go into a lock out safety procedure to protect you and your furnace.

If your furnace does not start after pushing this button once, the most likely cause is air in your fuel lines. When you ran out of oil your fuel pump probably pulled air which is trapped in the lines. Your pump most likely needs air to be purged from the lines and the pump to be primed in order for you to have heat again. This is an easy procedure but should only be done by a trained professional. If you call a skilled oil HVAC technician out to your home, they will also tune up your furnace as well with this procedure.

If you are curious about how this process works, you can find more on You Tube or at Wikihow. For more on what a trained professional would do in the oil priming process is described by Wikihow.