Fuels Institute Launches Diesel Fuel Sampling Study

The findings will allow diesel and diesel engine producers to find ways to improve efficiency.

April 29, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Modern diesel engines, designed to deliver greater performance and efficiency, are increasingly susceptible to impurities in diesel fuel. To better understand the quality of the diesel fuel being delivered into these engines, the Fuels Institute’s Diesel Fuel Quality Council (DFQC) has launched a diesel fuel sampling study to test fuel for certain properties identified by the Council as being particularly harmful to engine performance and efficiency. Technicians will collect samples through July, and the Council will peer review the results before releasing them to the public.

As modern engines equipped with common rail high pressure injection systems entered the market, reports about performance issues attributed to fuel quality increased. This spurred the creation of the Fuels Institute’s Diesel Fuel Quality Council, a non-advocacy, cross-industry collaborative group dedicated to better understanding the relationship between diesel fuel and the needs of modern diesel engines. The Council’s mission is to determine whether the compatibility between diesel fuel and modern diesel engines can be improved to enhance engine performance and reduce repair costs. The Council includes organizations representing engine manufacturers, diesel refiners, biofuel producers, fleet operators, distributors, retailers, fuel equipment manufacturers, additive manufacturers, fuel tank management and others. (A complete list can be found here.)

“It is important that we better understand the quality of the fuel being dispensed into vehicles so we can determine what characteristics may be presenting the greatest challenge to efficient vehicle operation and focus our attention on those challenges,” said John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute. “This sampling project is intended to provide more concrete data to help the industry direct its resources to addressing the source of the problem, so an effective solution can be developed.”

The Council partnered with DFQC member Tanknology to pull diesel samples from 190 nozzles at retail and captive fueling sites across the nation. In addition to the nozzle samples, Tanknology will also take a bottom and middle tank sample from 95 of those sites.

“We chose to partner with Tanknology because of their unique business model focused on compliance, their high volume of sampling visits to both retail and fleet fueling facilities, and their experience doing national sampling studies,” said Eichberger. “While in the field, the Council decided to take tank samples to further support efforts to address concerns about corrosion in diesel storage tanks, which also could be contributing to fuel quality concerns.”

All samples will be sent to Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory and analyzed for water, acidity, microbial count, metals and several other properties. The results will be evaluated by Decision Innovation Solutions, who will prepare the final report for review by the Council.

“Concerns about fuel quality and engine performance affect all stakeholders in the fuel distribution process, from refining to consumption,” Eichberger explained. “This sampling project will provide data about what is happening at the fuel dispensing level of the system and may provide valuable insight to guide additional efforts to evaluate other parts of the diesel value chain and identify solutions that will benefit all stakeholders. This is the goal of the Council, and it is why there is such strong support from companies throughout the value chain for what the Council is doing.”

For more information about this sampling project or the Diesel Fuel Quality Council, contact Amanda Appelbaum, Fuels Institute Director of Research.