Fuel Testing and Fuel Sampling FAQ

Answers to your fuel testing and fuel sampling questions

Fuel testing is a common sense, cost-effective tool that will determine the health of your entire fuel system. If you fail to manage it, you not only expose your organisation to an array of environmental hazards but you risk disrupting the essential services you provide. Read on for answers to many of the questions our fuel experts are often asked about how we test fuels and what is involved.

Fuel testing

Table of Contents:

What is oil testing?

Fuel testing, also known as fuel sampling is an analytical, planned preventative maintenance (PPM) tool to monitor and evaluate your entire fuel system. It looks at fuel degradation, water content, particulate levels and identifies the presence of diesel bug – all which will wreak havoc within your fuel system if left untreated.

Why get fuel tested?

With increasing FAME biodiesel content in fuels as a result of the EN950 fuel regulations and an increasing reduction of sulphur, fuel is more vulnerable to degradation in quality as a result of accelerate contamination and repolymerisation.

Sulphur has a higher affinity to water than regular diesel which increases the rate of corrosion in fuel tanks and pipework. Regular fuel testing is a viable, cost-effective insurance policy against expensive and troublesome equipment and engine failures. It identifies the cause of loss of power, poor injector performance, clogged filters and much more.

What are the benefits of fuel oil testing?

  • Cost-effective – a quick test now can prevent complete disaster in the future
  • Specialist advice from a team of experts

  • Avoid the inconvenience and expenses of a fuel uplift and replacement

  • Reduce the risk of business downtime

  • Identify a problem before it poses a risk, saving you thousands of points in repair costs

What fuels can be tested?

We can test a wide range of fuels at Beesley Fuels, but some of the most popular include:

  • Diesel (derv)

  • Industrial heating oil (IHO)

  • Red diesel (gas oil)

  • Kerosene

  • Biofuels

  • Engine oils

  • Transformer oils

  • What does fuel testing look for?

    To gain a complete understanding of your fuel, our technicians take samples from the top, middle and bottom of your tank, using bespoke equipment systems as specified in ASTM Standard D4057-06. Fuel testing looks for:

  • Water

  • FAME

  • Sulphur

  • Density

  • Microbial contaminants such as bugs and bacteria

  • Excess metals

  • PCB testing

  • Viscosity

  • ISO cleanliness (particulate examination)

  • Petrol contamination (optional)

  • How do I know if I have problems with my fuel?

    Often, the first indication that your fuel is contaminated is when there’s a complete breakdown as a result of fuel starvation from blocked injectors and filters or from fuel pump failure. At this point, the fuel is severely contaminated and it’s often too late to rectify.

    Diesel engines are one of the most expensive pieces of equipment – but with regular testing, are one of the easiest to save.

    What should I do if I have water in my fuel?

    Fuel testing for water is vital as it’s one of the main causes of microbial contamination. It either presents in fuel as a bottom layer of ‘free’ water or it mixes in the fuel.

    In both instances, water causes a tank to corrode and provides the perfect condition for microbes to form and multiply whilst using the fuel as a food source, particularly when the fuel contains FAME. Eventually, it will stall the engine, fill fuel lines and filters and disrupt the combustion process.

    Water will also cause the fuel to gel in low temperatures and freeze your fuel lines during cold weather.

    What clogs fuel filters?

    Fuel filters can easily become blocked if your fuel is contaminated from:

  • Water – free or dissolved water causes filters to swell

  • Particles – rust, dirt and other particles avert safe storage and transferral of fuel

  • Bio content – water separation technologies can be affected

  • Asphaltenes – any heat causes them to drop out of solution

  • Microorganisms – bacteria, fungi and mould cultivate in the presence of water

  • What are the different types of fuel tests?

  • Karl Fischer – specifies the precision measurement of total fuel water content

  • Microbial growth – positive/negative test for biological growth that decreases combustibility while increasing corrosive properties, engine wear and filter plugging

  • Flash point – checks the regulated ignition quality and fuel economy

  • Cetane index – shows the regulated ignition quality, fuel economy, combustibility and power output

  • Distillation – shows fuel economy, regulated ignition quality, combustibility and indicates water and contamination levels

  • Water and sediment – measures free water and particulate contamination

  • Sulphur – identifies if your fuel is within the limits for Regulated (EPA, NFPA) sulphur levels

  • Appearance – looks at particulate contamination, free water and ASTM aging colour

  • How do you take a fuel sample?

    To gain a true representation of your stored fuel, our engineers will visit your site to take samples from your tank using specialist sampling equipment systems as specified in the ASTM Standard D4057-06.

    We take samples from the top, middle and bottom of your tank. If present, water and particulates will show in the bottom sample. The middle sample will specify the degree of settlement of any contaminants – and the top will provide an indication of what can be achieved if the fuel is to be polished.

    If you receive regular deliveries, contaminants will be regularly re-dispersed throughout the fuel, whereas fuel that is lay dormant for long periods will have contaminants located on the bottom of the tank.

    What format do I get my results in?

    Our chemists will produce a detailed yet easy-to-read test report at our laboratory with recommendations based on your results. It uses a traffic light system to signify the level of severity and includes images of your fuel samples and offers advice on what to do next to save your fuel operation.

    It’s imperative that you take our advice on board and ensure you address any hindrances with your fuel. Think of it like a blood test. If it shows any anomalies in the results, you would take steps to look after your health. The same applies for your fuel operation.

    What happens after a fuel test?

    Once we’ve analysed your fuel samples, we will advise on the next steps to take. If your fuel is only moderately contaminated, we may be able to polish it to remove contaminants and restore it back to health.

    If it’s severely degraded in quality, fuel polishing will not be suitable and you will instead require a fuel uplift and replacement. As part of this process, our engineers will clean your fuel tank to ensure that clean fuel is not put back into a rusty and corroded tank.

    In this instance, the fuel would almost instantly become contaminated again, leaving you with unusable fuel once again.

    What is fuel polishing?

    Fuel polishing is an advanced, mechanical cleaning process that removes any harmful sediment through filtering and circulating water, sludge, diesel bug and solid particulates such as rust and soot. The fuel polishing units are fitted to your tank in a parallel circuit, causing minimal disruption to your operations.

    At Beesley Fuels, our polishing units can clean up to 25,000 litres of fuel every hour to level 1 micron absolute (an industry best), returning your fuel to optimal ISO 4406 standards.

    How often do I need to get fuel tested?

    Fuel operations, particularly critical fuel storage systems require at least a yearly test as part of a planned preventative maintenance programme to avoid dirty fuel causing a halt in operations.

    We recommend getting it tested at least twice a year if it’s used as back-up fuel, for example at the beginning of winter and then ahead of the summer months.

    Do you offer lubricant and hydraulic oil analysis?

    Yes, we offer transformer fuel analysis which generally involves:

  • Dissolved gas analysis (DGA)

  • PCB testing

  • Metal in oil checks

  • Buchholz gas analysis

  • Furaldehyde analysis

  • Fibre estimation

  • Fuel testing near me

    At Beesley Fuels, we offer a nationwide fuel testing service to ensure that all our customers’ fuel operations are protected from the inconvenient and troublesome consequences of contamination. Call 0330 123 1144 for more information.

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    The benefits of using Beesley Fuels

    24 – 48 hour Standard Delivery

    We deliver on our promise, with 92% of our orders successfully delivered within 24 hours.

    24/7 Emergency Delivery

    We can come to your rescue with our emergency deliveries, helping you avoid unplanned downtime.

    Sustainable Fuelling Solutions

    We don't just supply fuel, we have the tools and expertise to help you fuel your business responsibly.

    Personal Account Managers

    With us, you’ll have one point of contact throughout, who will know your fuel needs inside out.