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Harmful Contaminants Found in Fuel Systems

If you were to look deeply into what makes up your fuel, you would likely find a range of contaminants that are potentially causing harm to your engine. 

Contaminated fuel can lead to vehicle downtime and costly repairs, especially to expensive common rail systems and components. Modern engines increasingly require better fuel filtration technology to ensure you are delivering the cleanest fuel to your vehicle's fuel system. The most common contaminants found in fuel include:

  • Particulate & Debris - Enters when the fuel is transferred between storage tanks and when exposed to the atmosphere. Particulate in the fuel can disrupt engine combustion, block the fuel system and cause wear on fuel injection equipment.

  • Water - Water in fuel causes corrosion and will erode injector nozzles. It can negatively affect the combustion process, reduce the lubricity of the fuel and consequently damage system components. Water enters fuel from storage tanks and from condensation caused by cooling temperatures.

  • Wax/Paraffin - Often a component of fuel, it can drop out in cold conditions (also known as gelling).

  • Microbes (Bacteria) - Can grow in any free water in the fuel tank.

  • Fuel Degradation Products - Fuel by-products result from the thermal and oxidative instability of fuel prior to combustion.

  • Asphaltenes - Found naturally in crude oil, this can often be found in refined fuel.

  • Air - Enters the system from leaks in fuel lines or system connections.

Did You Know?

Water in fuel storage tanks is a major contaminant to engine fuel systems. Using a fuel water separator will help filter out contaminant and water from fuel before reaching the transfer pump.

How Particulate and Water are Removed
  1. Incoming fuel enters the filter through holes in the baffle/thread plate.

  2. Contaminants and debris are removed from the fuel as they pass through the filter.

  3. Filtered fuel leaves the filter through the threaded center hole in the baffle/thread plate.

  4. Specialized filter media in the cartridge removes water from the fuel.

  5. Water coalesces into large drops that drain into a lower cavity of the spin-on unit or drain bowl.

  6. Water requires daily draining by the operator. Donaldson supplies a range of manual or water-in-fuel (WIF) sensors to notify the driver of trapped water. A clear bowl with drain can also be added any time.

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