Did it ever cross your mind that algae or any other type of microorganism could actually exist and thrive inside poly diesel fuel tanks? Yes, there are. They may not be visible with the naked eye but they can thrive in them. As a matter of fact, there are many different types of diesel algae. They are also known as diesel bacteria.
The most common species for this type of bacteria is usually nestling right in the space gap found between the diesel and the water in your tank. This explains the reason why having water in your diesel tank is not advisable, but instead, you should take proper precautionary measures to keep water out and let it stay out. But for the vast majority of boaters, they almost always encounter water in their tank.
Water can find their way into your tank in many different ways, and when it does, bacterial growth is likely to follow and will do their thing. These microorganisms can regenerate exponentially, and for this reason, they are capable of multiplying themselves into vast number at an amazing rate.
Once they grow in number, you will notice that your diesel fuel will start looking misty instead of bright yellow. When your personal bacteria population is left to grow, even more, you will even find brown sludge, flakes or slimy strands in your diesel, e.g. in your primary filter. Often, boaters only notice that they have diesel fuel algae, once they see their engine smoke producing more smoke, dropping in rpm or even just plain stalling (because their filters are clogged). In some cases, you might even notice a rotten egg smell coming from your diesel. When in doubt, you can buy bacteria tests, in order to examine if you have diesel algae in your diesel fuel.
How to Recognize Algae in Your Poly Diesel Fuel Tanks?
We have a mountain load of information that will tell us exactly what will make diesel fuel algae to appear and start contaminating a tank. Depletion of sulfur or the complete loss of which in the fuel will render even the small amounts of water in the tank to become a breeding ground for fuel bacteria or algae.
Sulfur in diesel can significantly help in preventing bacterial growth, therefore the absence or the loss of which in diesel means that there is no more deterring element in it that will help put a stop to their growth.
If you want to know if you have problem with your diesel tank due to possible bacterial growth, these warning signs may significantly help in pointing to a problem.
- You can stick your fuel tank and determine any significant depth in the water phase. Even a quarter of an inch layer of water at the most bottom part of your tank is good enough for microbial life to thrive and flourish.
- Your diesel or fuel’s pH level is much lower than it is supposed to be. The natural tendency of algae lurking in diesel fuel is to produce acids which may eventually askew your fuel’s pH level. A 7.0 pH level is considered neutral, this will get reduced with the production of more acid by algae. Thus, decreasing the pH level. If your fuel pH is less than 5.8, then that indicates a major problem. It only goes to show that you have strong evidence of an ongoing microbe problem in your tank.
- If you will run a microbe test and results are showing affirmative signs, then there is nothing to deny that your tank is having a problem in this area. Test culture strips for microbes are available over-the-counter and they can be purchased at any given time of the day. The results for this test, though, would take a significant amount of time about 3-4 days. The results that it will show you will be qualitative (yes and no) and not quantitative (affirmative microbe presence by this much).
Of course, there are plenty of other tips or pointers that you can use for this purpose like for instance giving these microorganisms some time to settle first prior to exterminating them. And it will be very helpful also if you have a couple of extra fuel filters on standby so you can just filter out dead microorganisms.