New Mexico Urban Homesteader
Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!
(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)
This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.
“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”
Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Fuels and Fuel Storage, the Short and Long of It - Part 1
I learned that the three common fuels we citizens purchase are made for seasons and regions. They are blended to work best in the temperatures and season of the area and date they are purchased. Yep, this means if you buy fuel in your town in the summer it may not work right in the winter or if you get a fantastic deal in the next state, it may not work right when you are back home. Go figure. In fact, diesel fuel may cloud or gel. Gasoline may not vaporize well and cause starting problems. If you are storing fuel in a boat, RV, generator, tractor, auto, etc., it is best to leave the fuel tank full and use a commercial grade fuel stabilizer prior to equipment storage.
Did you know that over 30% of the gasoline that we purchase today is oxygenated and when it is it doesn’t store as well as non-oxygenated gasoline? Jeeze, what will they think of next to get us to keep coming back! How do you tell if this is the case with your gasoline? Easy, look and see if it has MTBE or ETBE additives. If it does, it is oxygenated, so try to find gasoline that doesn’t have these additives.
I’ve also learned it is not wise to use gasoline with a higher octane than what the manufacturer calls for. Higher octane gas can cause problems with many newer designed engines and engines with some kind of governed speed device installed. Now if you have an older classical car (yeah), this does not apply. In fact with these vehicles the fuels we have today often lack the octane that the engines need. If this is your case, several sites recommended something called “Octane Supreme”.
Then I found out that Kerosene is what is added to diesel fuel for sub zero wintertime use and at the truck stop they often call it #1 diesel fuel and the kerosene should be treated as diesel fuel using some kind of Fuel Treatment when storing to prevent algae growth (sludge).
Kerosene is one of the easiest fuels to store, and is more versatile than most people think. It does not evaporate as readily as gasoline and will remain stable in storage with no special treatment. Many pre-1950 farm tractor engines were designed to run on kerosene, and diesels will run on kerosene if necessary. Kerosene stoves and refrigerators are also available and would definitely be preferable to LP models from the safety standpoint.
Coal has an infinite storage life, dah it’s been in the ground for millions of years.
Wood, if kept dry and free from rot and termites can be expected to last for almost forever as well.
Alcohol (ethanol), if kept in an airtight container should also last about forever. It is not commonly considered a storage fuel, but here is the data on it for those who distill their own. Alcohol is as hygroscopic (absorbs water from air) as it gets, and must be stored in a sealed container to prevent moisture contamination. It is about as volatile as kerosene and presents the unique problem; when ignited, it burns with an almost invisible blue flame. It may be best to store the raw material for stilling the alcohol and producing the fuel as needed, rather than producing a large quantity and storing it.
Most all gaseous fuelsor or LP like propane, butane, and others have a near infinite storage life, assuming the container doesn't spring a leak; they should last for a hundred years or better. LP gas is one of the easiest fuels to store and also one of the most dangerous. It is a highly versatile fuel which can be used to power internal combustion stationary engines, tractors, and other motor vehicles, as well as for cooking and heating. LP has two serious drawbacks: First, it must be stored under pressure to remain a liquid; any leak (which may not be visible) could leak away all of your fuel without your knowledge. Second, LP is only slightly heavier than air, and will disperse at the exact ratio to produce an explosion. It will also “puddle” in low spots, waiting for an ignition source. Make sure this storage area is a safe distance away and use gravity to your advantage.
Biodiesel has been gaining interest and market share as a blend component in home heating oil. In the past few years, Bioheat home heating oil has become more popular, particularly in the Northeast United States where the bulk of the country’s heating oil users reside. However, biodiesel can act as a solvent. According to the National Biodiesel Board, biodiesel has a solvent effect that may release deposits accumulated on tank walls and pipes from previous diesel fuel storage. The NBB suggests that only fuel meeting the biodiesel ASTM specification be used. ASTM International has published a furnace fuel specification for Bioheat home heating oil (B5 in ASTM D 396 fuel).
Diesel fuel is very low on volatility: it is difficult to ignite on purpose, and almost impossible to ignite by accident, stores the longest of the liquid fuels, with almost (get that almost) no special treatment and is becoming more and more popular among the self sufficient.
Two grades are available: #1 diesel which is old-fashioned yellow kerosene, and #2 diesel which is the same thing as #2 home heating oil. (You may see literature to the contrary, but #2 diesel is #2 heating oil. Period!)
Unique to #2 diesel is the fact that some paraffin wax is dissolved in the fuel and will settle out at about 20° F, clogging the fuel filter. This “fuel freezing” may be eliminated by adding 10% gasoline or 20% kerosene to the diesel fuel. Commercial diesel fuel supplements are also available to solve the same problem. Diesel should be filtered before use.
Water in diesel comes essentially from two sources – condensation in the tank and direct absorption from the air. Diesel sludge or black gunk is actually anaerobic bacteria (algae) that eats the sulphur in the fuel and lives in water in the fuel tank. Left untreated, the sludge will grow until it fills the entire tank, ruining the fuel. Stored diesel fuel should be treated with a biocide like methanol or other fuel treatment as soon as it is delivered.
The federal government now requires that oil refineries dye #2 heating fuel oil red, off-road #2 diesel fuel blue-green, and highway use diesel is left un-dyed (so that roadside inspectors could determine that truckers were using fuel on which road taxes were paid . The government just has to get it monies). In the Northeast, oil heat is fairly widespread and #2 is frequently sold as “home heating oil” or simply “heating oil”. Farming communities will also have access to #2 as the diesel powered tractor has become standard equipment. When ordering diesel fuel, blue-green dyed #2 is most often available, designated as “heating oil or off-road diesel fuel only”.
Gasolines, diesel fuels and heating fuels are often supplied to customers who use their equipment only intermittently. For example, hospitals, telephone switchboards, and microwave stations have standby power units to keep them going if a utility power failure occurs. In such cases the fuel may be stored for months, or even years, before it is used so it must be kept clean and viable to perform as expected.
Gasoline has the advantage of being a liquid at room temperature. But it is probably the hardest fuel to store for any length of time. It has a high vapor pressure (which means it evaporates quickly) and will go stale in a few weeks if not chemically treated. It does have a fairly high ignition temperature (about 1100° F) even though it does not need a large volume of heat to ignite. Stored gasoline must be treated with a BHT additive to keep it protected from moisture if it is to be stored for any length of time.
Whatever fuel you store, it would be a good idea to monitor your fuel usage and plan your storage around a 90-day supply.
In recent years, equipment and fuel advancements have been made in reaction to energy shortages and environmental concerns. These shifts have resulted in many benefits.
However, the benefits carry costs that include increased prices and fuels that are less stable and more prone to contamination. In a first quarter 2008 Petroleum Equipment Institute Journal article, Tim Brady of Algae-X International mentions that major storage tank contaminants include water, microbial growth, particulate matter and fuel breakdown byproducts. These contaminants cause increased wear and corrosion, clogging, degraded performance and equipment failure.
There are a lot of variables that effect fuel storage. It is recommended to use a commercial grade fuel stabilizer on an annual basis to extend the useful life of fuel for an extra year. This annual procedure can be repeated between 5 and 10 times, thus giving fuel between 5 and 10 years of storage life.
BatteryStuff.com recommends and sells commercial grade fuel treatments and additives. Power Research Incorporated (PRI) treatments preserve and restore fuel freshness.
• PRI-G for gasoline
• PRI-D for diesel, kerosene and home heating oil extends fuel storage life for all fuels
PRI recommends that for long-long storage, all fuels be re-treated annually at the normal dosage rate to ensure maximum freshness and performance. While laboratory tests show that PRI chemistry can preserve fuel freshness with just one treatment for 5 to 10 years, the length of fuel preservation is affected by the original condition of the fuel and the storage conditions. For maximum protection, follow the suggested re-treatment regimen.
PRI Fuel Treatments are capable of restoring and rejuvenating old fuels. PRI must be blended (shaken, stirred, or re-circulated) and left several minutes to several hours to restore fuel quality. In most cases the fuel will recover to engine manufacturers' fuel specification.
BatteryStuff.com stated that all manufacturers recommend the use of fuel stabilizers to protect fuel quality over the long haul. So I checked out Ford, GM, Cat, Detroit, Cummins, Mercury Marine, Briggs & Stratton and a few others and sure enough if the fuel is not going to be used consistently day after day, then they do recommend fuel treatments. You can find more detailed information on these products at BatteryStuff.com on the “Fuel additive” page (http://www.batterystuff.com/fuel-treatments/).
Australia has a treatment called FUELKLEENIK that can be found at: http://www.fueltreat.com.au/
Remember that heat from sunlight will speed the oxidative process in stored fuel; and temperature swings will cause condensation to build, resulting in water accumulation in tank bottoms. Whatever tank you use, make sure it is equipped with a valve on the tank bottom so that you can periodically drain any water accumulation.
Keep your tank topped off, leaving about 5 -10 percent of capacity free for headspace. The same holds true for steel drums. This minimizes condensation, yet gives room for the fuel to expand and contract with temperature variances.
Invest in a good quality spin-on fuel filter that separates water. Put this on the output line from the tank, whether you are using gasoline or diesel fuel. They make small ones for small tanks, and they are commonly available at marine supply stores.
Keep a good supply of spare fuel filter cartridges on hand. Additionally, avoid the use of copper or any copper brazing on your tank. Minute particles of copper can contaminate the fuel, and these few particles can actually accelerate fuel deterioration.