REPORT BACK – How Clean Is Your Fuel?


Modern tractors require cleaner fuel than ever before and in order to avoid causing damage to machinery, members should carefully filter their fuel – that was the message at a fuel filtration seminar held at the AF office on Tuesday 19 November.

Speaking at the event, which was hosted by AF supplier Largo, Niko Verhaegen of Donaldson filters said that the main reason new engines are more susceptible to damage from dirty fuel is because modern fuel injectors are increasingly powerful (pressure> 2000 BAR) and any foreign bodies in the fuel essentially ‘sand blast them’.

Mr Verhaegen argued that the current industry requirements for the cleanliness of fuel fall well short of what could damage engines, since industry standard fuel can contain 2-4 million particles per 100 millilitres (>= 4µm). He added that the ‘clear and bright’ test for fuel cleanliness (holding fuel up to the light to look for contaminants) was insufficient since particles below 40 microns cannot be seen with the naked eye but particles as small as 0.5-10 microns cause damage to machinery.

Mr Verhaegen said that the best course of action to ensure clean fuel, aside from general housekeeping of tanks, was to implement a bulk fuel filtration system, such as the system manufactured by Donaldson and supplied by their partner  Largo. While installing a fuel filtration system comes at a cost it can be a worthwhile investment by reducing the total cost of machinery ownership. Some of the advantages of using cleaner fuel include reducing downtime from damaged machinery, saving on costly component replacements, improving fuel efficiency and power and reducing emissions.

The Donaldson filtration system, which removes particles at 99.95% efficiency as small as 4 microns, can be adapted to members’ individual requirements. The concept is a 3-step approach (Clean.Protect.Polish™) a: filtering fuel being delivered into the tank b: removing moisture (which can cause fungal contamination) in the tank, and c: filtering fuel being taken out of the tank. While using this complete concept is most effective, each type of filter can be added individually for a more cost-effective solution.

One member who attended the seminar, William Wennington of Great Melton Farms, had already installed a basic Donaldson system. He said: “A fuel test found that my diesel was dirty with water in it. Before fitting the Donaldson system I had to change my tractor’s filters 2-3 times between services, now I have fitted the bulk filtration system I don’t need to change them at all between services. The cost of fitting the system is not expensive compared to the cost of having to replace an injector and must improve my tractor’s efficiency. I can’t speak highly enough of it!”

Fuel tests

Members brought fuel samples from their own tanks into the seminar to have them analysed by Donaldson. The test, which involved filtering fuel through a 0.8µm paper membrane and then inspecting the membrane under a microscope, proved the need for filtration. Of the six samples analysed during the seminar, five were excessively dirty, with a range of contaminants including dust, silica, metal, fibres, bacteria and yeast.

The test is used as the starting point to trace the cause for any contamination in fuel tanks in order to mitigate against it in the future. For example, an excessive amount of metal contamination in a sample recently pointed to someone who had done a poor welding job on their tank. The test also helps to identify the most suitable bulk filtration setup to use with each tank.

Filters that help you grow!
When it’s time to be cleaner, Largo provides the right balance of quality and value needed to keep your operation running smoothly. Please clink on the following link below to our handy diesel fuel handbook

To find out more about Largo’s bulk filtration systems call us on 01603 870959 or contact our clean fuel advisors DIRECT