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POWRMATIC - Governmental Change To Fuel Oil Specification

In line with Powrmatic’s policy of providing information which is of importance to our trade customers we are pleased to give advance notice of an impending change to fuel oil specifications. The changes are the result of European legislation and are effective from January 2011. These changes may have an impact on oil fired air heater products and installations.

Currently Powrmatic air heater products are configured for use on Class D light distillate fuel oil (35 second gas oil) or kerosene (28 second). As from January 2011 certain types of gas oil will be required to contain a proportion of biodiesel and it is the biodiesel content which can have an adverse impact on oil fired heaters and their installations.

No changes to the specification of kerosene (28 second) have been announced.

Installers may feel it prudent to inform their customers of these changes and the implications that may arise.

New European Directives for Renewable Energy and Fuel Quality will require changes to the composition of gas oil in January 2011. Gas oil intended for use in non-road mobile machinery will have to have a sulphur content of 10ppm or less and contain up to 7% by volume of biodiesel. These changes are reflected in a revised edition of the British Standard for gas oil, BS 2869:2010, and fuel to the new specification will become available in late 2010.

The existence of a new grade of gas oil, known as B7(B10), with a significant biodiesel content creates
increased possibilities of cross-contamination, wrong product delivery or delivered product not declared as containing biodiesel.

In addition because of limitations in the production and supply structure, only one type of gas oil may be widely available and this will inevitably be the non-road mobile machinery grade with a significant biodiesel content. Consequently customers with air heater installations may be obliged to operate their heaters on this type of biodiesel irrespective of the suitability of the appliance.

Potential problems
There is considerable experience with automotive diesel containing biodiesel and some published advice on handling is available from the Department for Transport and major oil companies. Much of this information has relevance to gas oil containing biodiesel used in other applications, but is necessarily specific to non-automotive applications.

Biodiesel is a powerful solvent, with good detergency properties, it is an effective paint stripper and will take up water from the surroundings. Problems caused by the presence of biodiesel in gas oil can include -
• Material incompatibility - many common rubbers, plastics and surface coatings will degrade from contact
with biodiesel
• Residual deposit flushing, causing clogged filters, etc.
• Water uptake, with enhanced potential for mould growth, producing solid matter and acids
• Fuel stability - biodiesel can degrade over time by oxidation and hydrolysis
• Cold flow, waxing and precipitation problems
• Burner and component tolerance of biodiesel and/or its degradation products

Existing Installations
Icom Energy Association, Oftec and the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers have issued some initial guidelines and Powrmatic are pleased to pass on these recommendations together with additional recommendations which may be more specific to our air heater products.

Tanks; An initial assessment on tank condition and the suitability for biodiesel fuel will need to be carried out. This should include the materials of construction, age, condition and appearance, damaged areas, surface coatings, etc and any obvious deficiencies should be remedied.

The tank should be cleaned effectively internally and water & solid deposits or mould growth removed as efficiently as possible. This may require a specialised tank cleaning service.

Oil Line/Fittings; The materials used for oil tank fittings, oil lines, oil line fittings, valves, transfer pumps, filters, flexible oil lines etc. should be investigated for biodiesel compatibility and, if necessary, replaced with a suitable biodiesel-resistant alternatives. The security of joints in the system should also be examined, ensuring that biodiesel-compatible sealing materials and compounds have been used.

Heater/Burner; Check the material and condition of all filters and flexible oil lines and replace if necessary.

This will be an ongoing requirement as biodiesel-containing fuel is introduced to the system. Ensure that burner pump seals are made from biodiesel-resistant material (preferably a fluoroelastomer). Powrmatic will endeavour to provide information and support with regard to the specification of component materials supplied as part of our oil fired heaters.

New Installations
Powrmatic are currently working with burner and component suppliers to ensure that constituents which form part of the heater supply are compatible with this new biodiesel.

Installers will need to ensure that tanks, transfer pumps, oil lines, fittings, jointing materials/compounds etc are compatible.

Icom Energy Association, Oftec and the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers provide the following advice in respect of ongoing housekeeping.

The routine checks & actions set out in the Oil Care Campaign booklet, “Get to know your oil tank” will be required more frequently for biodiesel-containing fuel due to its strong detergency, solvent and hygroscopic properties compared with those of purely hydrocarbon fuels.

Tanks should be frequently examined for signs of degradation in structure, material or coatings and for any other apparent weaknesses. Regular checks with prompt and appropriate removal and remedial action, must be undertaken for any water, dirt, mould growth, etc. present in the tank.

Filters should be examined and, if necessary, changed, especially following the first deliveries of biodieselcontaining fuel.

Pipework, seals, pumps, flexible oil lines and other components must be checked frequently for signs of actual, or potential, oil leaks and remedial work undertaken immediately.

Burner components should be examined regularly for signs of degradation or deposit formation and remedial action initiated, if necessary.

So far as new heaters are concerned we can confirm that our suppliers are taking steps to ensure that their products are compatible with B7 biodiesel. However even then it may well be that individual components, such as flexible oil lines, will have a finite life and routine replacement may need to form part of ongoing service requirements.

With regard to existing installations customers will be aware that products supplied to date have been configured for use on either gas oil or kerosene and not B7 biodiesel. It may well be that the heater user will have difficulty in obtaining gas oil and will have no alternative other than B7 biodiesel. That being the case there is a possibility that when this new biodiesel is delivered to tanks that have an element of contamination or water then the detergent element of the fuel could lead to that contamination being carried to the oil line filter, burner oil pump or burner nozzle with the result that these components become blocked or damaged.

Installers will appreciate that such contamination would be beyond our control and not a fault of the heater and consequently is unlikely to be covered by the warranty of our suppliers.

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Arundel Jones Associates Ltd Registered in England and Wales No. 07334149
Hill Farm, Linton Hill, Maidstone, Kent ME 17 4AL
Tel : 01622 745333 email
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News Categories : Commercial heating systems
Heating systems Oil fired heating