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It’s August and the average US temperature is well above freezing. In fact it’s downright hot in most of the country. So why am I writing about heating your house. Answer, now is the time when home heating systems need to be serviced….. prior to cold season.

Over 3 billion gallons of home heating fuel will be used this year to keep residents warm. In the US, the average household that uses oil for heat will consume about 500 gallons between October and March. More states are requiring biodiesel blends. Biodiesel has been promoted as the better, cleaner burning solution to conventional fuel. While this may be true, there are critical factors to consider when using biodiesel.

4 Critical Factors to Consider When Using Biodiesel to Heat Your Home

  1. Biodiesel is more water soluble than conventional fuel.
  2. Biodiesel is more readily contaminated by microbes.
  3. Biodiesel degrades faster than conventional fuel.
  4. Biodiesel requires more maintenance that conventional fuel.

Biodiesel is More Water Soluble

Biodiesel is hydrophilic – it loves water. As a result, water present in the system is drawn into the fuel. Unlike conventional diesel fuel, biodiesel can hold more water in suspension before it settles to the bottom of the tank. During long-term storage in a home heating fuel system, condensation accumulates in the headspace of the tank and sweats down into the fuel. Water content in the biofuel or biofuel blend increases fuel degradation due to hydrolysis – exposure to water that breaks down the fuel. The storage stability can be seriously affected, causing acids to form, resulting in corrosion and system damage. Ultimately, water has a more pronounced effect on biodiesel due to its high water solubility, increasing maintenance costs and damaging the system. Regular water removal is a must.

Biodiesel is More Readily Contaminated by Microbes

Microbial contamination during long-term storage of home heating fuel is probable. microorganisms need water to survive. However, they can survive in dissolved water as low as 5 parts per million (PPM) and grow in the free water phase above 50 ppm. Commonly, biodiesel tested reveals water content closer to 500 ppm. As previously mentioned, water is a problem. It degrades biofuel and provides an adequate environment for microbes to grow and multiply. Studies suggest that microbes degrade biodiesel more easily than conventional fuels and increase microbial growth when blended into conventional fuel. Once they begin to multiply, they create biomass environments. Studies show biomass creation in as little as one month. Biomass will clog filters and damage the system. The only way to rid the system of microbial growth or keep it from forming in the first place is to use a good fuel biocide like Biobor JF.

Biodiesel Degrades Faster than Conventional Fuel

Fuel stability is the resistance of a fuel to degrade. Compared to conventional fuel, biodiesel has lower fuel stability. Biodiesel can degrade from hydrolysis (exposure to water), microbial contamination, oxidation (exposure to air) and thermal decomposition (exposure to heat). We already discussed water and microbial degradation now let’s look at oxidation and thermal stability.

Oxidation stability refers to how fuel reacts with oxygen. All fuels are susceptible to oxidative degradation. However, biodiesel oxidizes faster than conventional fuels and often leads to the formation of acids, solid sediments and varnish deposits. All of these damage fuel systems and equipment. Often associated damage includes accelerated corrosion and critical system failure. The combination of water and oxygen exposure is known to cause the formation of hydroperoxides and acids, all of which are very damaging.

Thermal stability refers to how fuel reacts to heat. Biodiesel is less heat resistant than conventional fuels. Exposure to elevated temperatures, especially those associated with outdoor storage, will accelerate the thermal decomposition of biodiesel. The combination of both oxygen and heat exposure accelerates the degradation of biodiesel. While conventional fuels are susceptible to oxidative and thermal degradation, biodiesel is more susceptible. So, what can be done to extend the life of biodiesel or biodiesel blends in long-term storage? Selecting the right fuel additive package can help protect the fuel and extend its storage stability is a step in the right direction. Biobor DC + Cetane Winter Blend is the perfect choice.

Biodiesel Requires More Maintenance than Conventional Fuel

How do I maintain my fuel to keep it from going bad, season to season? There are a few easy maintenance steps:

  • Monitor you system regularly and immediately remove water when found.
  • Consider having your fuel tank periodically cleaned to remove any physical contaminants that accumulate over time.
  • Keep your fuel tank full during offseason storage to reduce condensation from forming in the headspace.
  • Use Biobor JF to kill any microbial contamination present and preserve the fuel by keeping microbes from forming.
  • Use Biobor DC to stabilize your fuel, increase it’s self-life and reduce the effects of oxidative or thermal stability.

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2 thoughts on “Factors to Consider When Using Biodiesel to Heat Your House”

  1. I have been a heating oil dealer over 45 years! I always fill all my customers tanks at the end of June and top everyone off again right after Halloween!

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