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With all the efforts that are made in the testing, servicing and maintenance of your genset, the diesel fuel is sometimes overlooked. Diesel fuel can be polished - filtered and enhanced using the latest technology but in the higher latitudes it is important to remember the difference between “winter” diesel and “summer” diesel blends.

A very clean sample of summer diesel is fine in the summer but in the colder climates, as winter approaches, Summer Diesel can be a real issue. During unseasonal cold weather some diesel engines will experience difficulties with starting. These problems arise from the formation of wax crystals, which block fuel filters and lines. Users who live in cooler regions must be aware of the problems that can arise from using diesel during winter.

All diesel fuel contains wax. It is considered an important diesel component because of its high cetane value. Normally the wax is a liquid in the fuel, however, when diesel fuel gets cold enough the wax starts to crystallize. If the temperature is sufficiently low, enough crystals will form to block the fuel filters and the engine can stop through fuel starvation.

Diesel suppliers will provide a fuel “blend” that is appropriate to the season in which it is supplied, they vary the cloud point accordingly, higher for summer and lower for winter (similar to antifreeze additive to water cooling systems). There are different methods of regulation and measurement in different countries but the desired outcome is still the same.

A genset full of unused summer diesel in January may experience problems however, this could be overcome with the addition of anti-waxing agents or trace heating on the fuel system but it is in the interest of the user to be proactive with the solution instead of trying to solve the problem after it happens.

Be aware of the fuel in your tank, the hotter climates will never suffer this waxing issue but they have problems of their own with the same result due to bacterial growth/ condensation contamination, stopping the engine due to fuel line and filter blockage.

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