Diesel fuel is
heavier than gasoline because it is obtained from the residue of the crude oil after the
more volatile fuels have been removed. As with gasoline, the efficiency of diesel fuel
varies with the type of engine in which it is used. By distillation, cracking, and
blending of several oils, a suitable diesel fuel can be obtained for all engine operating
conditions. Using a poor or improper grade of fuel can cause hard starting, incomplete
combustion, a smoky exhaust, and engine knocks.
injection pressures needed in the diesel fuel system result from close tolerances in the
pumps and injectors. These tolerances make it necessary for the diesel fuel to have
sufficient lubrication qualities to prevent rapid wear or damage. It must also be clean,
mix rapidly with the air, and burn smoothly to produce an even thrust on the piston during
Diesel fuel is graded and designated by the American Society for Testing and Materials
(ASTM), while its specific gravity and high and low heat values are listed by the American
Petroleum Institute (API). Each individual oil refiner and supplier attempts to produce
diesel fuels that comply as closely as possible with ASTM and API specifications. Because
of different crude oil supplies, the diesel fuel may be on either the high or low end of
the prescribed heat scale in Btu per pound or per gallon. Because of deterioration of
diesel fuel, there are only two recommended grades of fuel that is considered acceptable
for use in high-speed heavy-duty vehicles. These are the No. 1D or No. 2D fuel oil
Grade No. 1D
comprises the class of volatile fuel oils from kerosene to the intermediate distillates.
Fuels within this classification are applicable for use in high-speed engines in service
involving frequent and relatively wide variations in loads and speeds. In cold weather
conditions, No. 1D fuel allows the engine to start easily. In summary, for heavy-duty
high-speed diesel vehicles operating in continued cold-weather conditions, No. 1D fuel
provides better operation than the heavier No. 2D.
Grade No. 2D
includes the class of distillate oils of lower volatility. They are applicable for use in
high-speed engines in service involving relatively high loads and speeds. This fuel is
used more by truck fleets, due to its greater heat value per gallon, particularly in warm
to moderate climates. Even though No. 1D fuel has better properties for cold weather
operations, many still use No. 2D in the winter, using fuel heater/water separators to
provide suitable starting, as well as fuel additive conditioners, which are added directly
into the fuel tank.
correct diesel fuel is a must if the engine is to perform to its rated specifications.
Generally, the seven factors that must be considered in the selection of a fuel oil are as
on injection equipment
on rings, valves, and cylinder liners
cost and availability
considerations in the selection of a fuel oil are:
size and design
and load range
of load and speed changes
is a measure of the fuel oils volatility; the higher the rating, the easier the engine
will start and the combustion process will be smoother within the ratings specified by the
engine manufacturer. Current 1D and 2D diesel fuels have a cetane rating between 40 and
differs from octane rating that is used in gasoline in that the higher the number of
gasoline on the octane scale, the greater the fuel resistance to self-ignition, which is a
desirable property in gasoline engines with a high compression ratio. Using a low octane
fuel will cause pm-ignition in high compression engines. However, the higher the cetane
rating, the easier the fuel will ignite once injected into the diesel combustion chamber.
If the cetane number is too low, you will have difficulty in starting. This can be
accompanied by engine knock and puffs of white smoke during warm-up in cold weather.
and low temperatures require the use of diesel fuel with an increased cetane number. Low
temperature starting is enhanced by high cetane fuel oil in the proportion of 1.5°Flower
starting temperature for each cetane number increase in the fuel.
volatility requirements depend on the same factors as cetane number. The more volatile
fuels are best for engines where rapidly changing loads and speeds are encountered. Low
volatile fuels tend to give better fuel economy where their characteristics are needed for
complete combustion and will produce less smoke, odor, deposits, crankcase dilution, and
of a fuel is established by a distillation test where a given volume of fuel is placed
into a container that is heated gradually. The readiness 5-3.with which a liquid changes
to a vapor is known as the volatility of the liquid The 90 percent distillation
temperature measures volatility of diesel fuel. This is the temperature at which 90
percent of a sample of the fuel has been distilled off. The lower the distillation
temperature, the higher the volatility of the fuel. In small diesel engines higher fuel
volatility is needed than in larger engines in order to obtain low fuel consumption, low
exhaust temperature, and minimum exhaust smoke.
is a measure of the resistance to flow of the fuel, and it will decrease as the fuel oil
temperature increases. What this means is that a fluid with a high viscosity is heavier
than a fluid with low viscosity. A high viscosity fuel may cause extreme pressures in the
injection systems and will cause reduced atomization and vaporization of the fuel spray.
of diesel fuel must be low enough to flow freely at its lowest operational temperature,
yet high enough to provide lubrication to the moving parts of the finely machined
injectors. The fuel must also be sufficiently viscous so that leakage at the pump plungers
and dribbling at the injectors will not occur. Viscosity also will determine the size of
the fuel droplets, which, in turn, govern the atomization and penetration qualities of the
fuel injector spray.
fuel oil viscosity for high-speed diesel engines is generally in the region of 39 SSU
(Seconds Saybolt Universal) which is derived from using a Saybolt Viscosimeter to measure
the time it takes for a quantity of fuel to flow through a restricted hole in a tube. A
viscosity rating of 39 SSU provides good penetration into the combustion chamber,
atomization of fuel, and suitable lubrication.
Sulfur has a
definite effect on the wear of the internal components of the engine, such as piston ring,
pistons, valves, and cylinder liners. In addition a high sulfur content fuel requires that
the engine oil and filter be changed more often. This is because the corrosive effects of
hydrogen sulfide in the fuel and the sulfur dioxide or sulfur triioxide that is formed
during the combustion process combines with water vapor to form acids. High additive
lubricating oils are desired when high sulfur fuels are used. Refer to the engine
manufacturers specifications for the correct lube oil when using high sulfur fuel.
can only be established by chemical analysis of the fuel. Fuel sulfur content above 0.4%
is considered as medium or high and anything below 0.4% is low. No. 2D contains between
0.2 and 0.5% sulfur, whereas No. 1D contains less than 0.1%.
has a direct bearing on the life expectancy of the engine and its components. Active
sulfur in diesel fuel will attack and corrode injection system components in addition to
contributing to combustion chamber and injection system deposits.
Cloud point is
the temperature at which wax crystals in the fuel (paraffin base) begin to settle out with
the result that the fuel filter becomes clogged. This condition exists when cold
temperatures are encountered and is the reason that a thermostatically controlled fuel
heater is required on vehicles operating in cold weather environments. Failure to use a
fuel heater will prevent fuel from flowing through the filter and the engine will not run.
Cloud point generally occurs 9-14°F above the pour point.
Pour point of
a fuel determines the lowest temperature at which the fuel can be pumped through the fuel
system. The pour point is 5°F above the level at which oil becomes a solid or refuses to
an important characteristic of diesel fuel. Fuel should not contain more than a trace of
foreign substances; otherwise, fuel pump and injectors difficulties will develop leading
to poor performance or seizure. Because it is heavier and more viscous, diesel fuel will
hold dirt particles in suspension for a longer period than gasoline. Moisture in the fuel
can also damage or cause seizure of injector parts when corrosion occurs.
is its capacity to resist chemical change caused by oxidation and heat. Good oxidation
stability means that the fuel can be stored for extended periods of time without the
formation of gum or sludge. Good thermal stability prevents the formation or carbon in hot
parts, such as fuel injectors or turbine nozzles. Carbon deposits disrupt the spray
patterns and cause inefficient combustion.