Identifying and Preventing Contamination in Fuel Tanks

In the absence of proper care and maintenance, fuel tanks are prone to microbial growth and contamination. Fuel systems contamination signify major trouble for engine and aircraft. Contaminated liquid fuel can wreak out havoc and damage to it the engine and this can range from clogged fuel filters to the corrosion of fuel cells and its components to the blocking of engine’s fuel supply. 

Being aware of the possible causes of fuel contamination and identification of the same can help in making a difference in preventing it from inflicting unnecessary damage to an aircraft. 

When it comes to fuel contamination, there are 3 basic types here, namely particulate, water, and microbial growth.  

fuel tanks contamination

Water Contamination in Fuel Tanks

The composition of a jet fuel makes it easy to absorb water right away. There is a manifold of ways water can be introduced to it, this includes the humidity found in the air. 

The presence of water in the liquid fuel is either present as a liquid or suspended. The temperature, though, in part will have an impact on the degree of suspension. Whenever there is a decrease in the temperature of the fuel, suspended water particles in the liquid fuel are drawn out of it and are likely going to accumulate in the bottom part of the system or tank. 

Warm temperature will further enhance the absorption of moisture that are suspended in the fuel itself and also from the atmosphere. Hence,  it is safe to make an assumption that there really is a constant cycle of suspension, absorption and accumulation of moisture in a fuel tank.  

Allowing water to sit long in your fuel will eventually promote bacterial growth. They will, later on, consume the fuel hydrocarbons which will induce degradation of the fuel’s quality.  

Microbial growth

There are certain types of fungi and bacteria that can thrive in the water that is in direct interface with jet fuel. They feed off from the fuel additives and alkanes. Allowing this to happen will result in their production of sludge-like substance. The accumulation of which can induce steel and aluminum to corrode and attack the rubber components of your fuel system. 

When it comes to putting a level of control on microbial growth, eliminating the water component of fuel is a must. Besides, you can take advantage of certain additives to help eliminate fungal growth and other microbes.  

Particulates

There are various ways in which particulate contamination can be introduced to your liquid fuel. 

From the sand and dirt that get their way through open ports down to the fuel line system degradation, there is a constant introduction of these particulates into your fuel systems.  

Good housekeeping

By making it sure that you are observing good housekeeping, you are increasing your chances of lowering the risks of fuel  system contamination. It is of prime importance that you keep your fuel storage and dispensing equipment squeaky clean all the time. 

Being more cognizant of the many different factors that can pave the way for contamination of fuel tanks as well as the ability to identify present contaminants is crucial to the aircraft and its safe operation. 

By virtue of the right way of prevention, identification and contamination removal, we have a good level of assurance that the very aircraft we are working on is not going to be adversely impacted by the contaminated fuel.