Diesel Fuel Testing Standards

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It’s important that you know the correct diesel fuel testing standards. Otherwise, your testing could lead to inaccurate results and potentially dangerous situations. Fuel testing kits, such as Conidia’s tests kits, are available to make testing your fuel incredibly easy.

This post explains the different testing standards for diesel fuel, and how they’re different from each other.

Importance Of Diesel Fuel Testing

Taking a proactive maintenance approach by testing your diesel is important for program health. It can reduce the number of costly repairs performed, prevent engine failure, and ensure the quality of fuel being used.

This is because low-quality diesel fuel may be contaminated which can damage engine components by clogging filters, eventually leading to fuel starvation. 

Failure to test diesel and the improper care of a fuel supply system can expose your business to a range of environmental hazards, as well as disrupt the service being provided. 

Characteristics Of Diesel Fuel By Grade

Diesel fuel can be categorised into seven main grades, each of which is suitable for various types of diesel engines:

  1. Grade No. 1-D S15: A special-purpose, light middle distillate fuel for use in diesel engine applications requiring a fuel with a maximum of 15 ppm sulfur.
  2. Grade No. 1-D S500: A special-purpose, light middle distillate fuel for use in diesel engine applications requiring a fuel with a maximum of 500 ppm sulfur.
  3. Grade No. 1-D S5000: A special-purpose, light middle distillate fuel for use in diesel engine applications requiring a fuel with a maximum of 5000 ppm sulfur.
  4. Grade No. 2-D S15: A general-purpose, middle distillate fuel for use in diesel engine applications requiring a fuel with a maximum of 15 ppm sulfur. 
  5. Grade No. 2-D S500: A general-purpose, middle distillate fuel for use in diesel engine applications requiring a fuel with a maximum of 500 ppm sulfur.
  6. Grade No. 2-D S5000: A general-purpose, middle distillate fuel for use in diesel engine applications requiring a fuel with a maximum of 5000 ppm sulfur.
  7. Grade No. 4-D: A heavy distillate fuel, or a blend of distillate and residual oil, for use in low- and medium-speed diesel engines.

To determine which grade a diesel fuel falls into it needs to be tested in accordance with certain standards (which go into more detail below). 

What Is the ASTM D975 Testing standard?

ASTM D975 is the Standard Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils which although recognised worldwide, its use is mainly focused in the United States.

Despite sounding like just one test, it is in fact a specification that includes 13 different types of tests. When diesel fuel is tested against this standard, the results must be within acceptable limits at the time of delivery.

The list below details the tests performed:

  • Flash Point
  • Water and sediment 
  • Distillation 
  • Ash 
  • Sulfur 
  • Copper Strip Corrosion
  • Kinematic Viscosity at 40°C
  • Cetane number 
  • A temperature operability test (either Cloud point, Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP), or Low-Temperature Flow Test (LTFT))
  • A control and prohibition test (Calculated Cetane Index or Aromaticity)
  • Carbon Residue 
  • Lubricity 
  • Conductivity 

 

What is the EN590 testing standard?

The EN590 standard describes the physical properties that all automotive diesel fuel must meet if it is to be sold in the UK and the rest of the European Union. 

Also referred to as Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD), this diesel fuel testing standard was introduced in 2007 to reduce the sulphur content of diesel fuel. 

Similarly to the ASTM standard, there are analysis tests for which the diesel must meet the requirements. These cover numerous characterises, the main of which is water content. To comply with EN590 fuel can contain no more than 200mg of water per kg of fuel.

Other fuel analysis tests conducted within this standard include: 

  • Cetane number 
  • Cetane index
  • Density at 15°C
  • Viscosity at 40°C
  • Sulphur content 
  • Carbon residue 
  • Oxidation stability 
  • Copper strip corrosion (3 hours at 50°C)

 

Standard Specifications For Diesel Fuel Explained

Since diesel fuel is a mixture of hydrocarbons obtained by distillation of crude oil, certain factors can be tested which allow it to be characterised. These include:

  • Volatility: This refers to how easily a fuel evaporates. Diesel is considered to have low volatility which makes it a much safer and stable fuel compared to others. 
  • Flash point: This is the lowest temperature at which vapours will ignite under a low flame. 
  • Density: The mass of a substance per unit volume. The higher the density the more power and smoke the diesel will produce. 
  • Cetane number: This is the measure of the ignition quality of diesel fuel based on its ignition delay in an engine. The higher the number, the shorter the ignition delay and the better the ignition quality – which is especially important in colder climates. 
  • Sulfur content: Refers to the sulfur content (ppm). Should be kept as low as possible because a large amount of diesel fuel will eat away at the engine and form acidic by-products that are harmful to the environment. 
  • Carbon residue: The measure of carbon deposits after exposure to high temperatures. 
  • Ash: The amount of ash forming material, such as suspended solids and soluble organometallic compounds within the diesel.

Basic Test Package For Diesel Fuel

Many companies offer testing services for a full range of diesel fuels, including biofuels. These services are available in either a basic or comprehensive package, and the type of analysis tests performed depends on the level you choose. 

The goals of such test packages can range from verification of fuel quality, to troubleshooting fuel problems, to confirming whether fuel is suitable for use in certain conditions. 

Some companies even offer routine packages for long-term storage of petroleum-based diesel, as well as winter test packages for colder weather climates.

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