Stamping Out the Diesel Bug – What you Need to Know

What is the Diesel Bug?

A high percentage of diesel engine failures are caused by fuel contamination. Common forms of contamination are caused by microbial organisms. These can be bacteria, fungi, viruses and types of yeast – collectively known as ‘the diesel bug’. Given the right conditions, the diesel bug population in your fuel can double in size every 20 minutes. It doesn’t take long before this contamination seriously affects the quality of your diesel, causing  performance problems and even complete engine failures.

If you store diesel, it’s vital you know what warning signs to look for and what steps to take to prevent and treat the problem.

What does the Diesel Bug Look Like?

Diesel bugs thrive in the layer between your fuel and any water that has entered your storage tank. Fuel that is left to stand for longer periods is more likely to have problems caused by the diesel bug. This is because condensation can form in poor-quality storage tanks over time.

Accumulations of bugs may look like dark brown or black slime. You may also notice coffee-like sediments in fuel filters and a foul-smelling odour.

What Does the Diesel Bug Do?

Contamination corrodes your fuel storage tanks, clogs filters and may mean engines are difficult to start or fail completely.

Look out for frequently blocked filters and gauges, increased fuel consumption, sluggish performance and black smoke from exhausts. Diesel bug contamination also causes corrosion of other vehicle parts, like elastomers. Infections also lead to increased tank and pipe corrosion and may cause stress cracking.

Preventing the Diesel Bug

The accumulation of diesel bugs is largely prevented by using high-quality fuel storage tanks such as the StoraFUEL and PortaFUEL range. These tanks seal tightly to prevent water and microbial organisms from getting into your diesel.

  • Regularly inspect your storage tanks for leaks and any damage.
  • Regularly check your diesel for contaminants, such as water and dirt.
  • Accurately estimate your fuel needs and store accordingly – bugs accumulate over time. When fuel is used up quickly, they don’t have time to grow.
  • Using a tank re-circulation kit keeps the diesel bug from growing. You can also use specialised diesel additives to kill off colonies before they become a serious problem.

Getting Rid of the Bug

It’s important to act quickly if you discover evidence pointing towards contamination. Take these steps to get rid of the diesel bug, maintain the quality of your fuel and prevent engine damage:

  • Immediately remove fuel from tanks suspected of contamination. Thoroughly clean any contaminated fuel using a diesel fuel filtration system.
  • Clean tanks, fuel lines and filters before considering refilling with fuel.
  • If your equipment is seriously damaged, you should replace it.