Fuel Stability

Definition - What does Fuel Stability mean?

Fuel stability is the state of fuel denoted by the polymerization, acidity, oxidation, emulsion, reduction, microorganism infestation and degradation levels it has obtained from the refinery process. It is the quality of the petroleum product in relation to the threatening processes that can lead to the aging of the fuel. In simple terms, it is the ability of the fuel to retain its unique quality over a period of time, thus resisting degradation or any form of change under ambient atmospheric conditions. It is calculated to ascertain the usability of the fuel without incurring technical problems.

Fuel stability can also be known as storage stability, oxidative stability or thermal stability depending on the factors considered in the testing.

Corrosionpedia explains Fuel Stability

For mechanical equipment to work efficiently, the fuel used should be stable. Fuel stability of diesel, petrol, biodiesel, jet fuel and gasoline require analytical tests to determine whether the fuel may degrade when stored over a specific period of time. Military, transportation and industrial organizations are prone to fuel stability problems that may cause malfunction and failures in engines and other mechanisms, leading to high maintenance costs and huge losses.

The production of insoluble products and change of color may indicate that the fuel stability is weak. The change of properties such as chemical properties and composition may easily affect the performance of any machine and also lead to corrosion of the material used in designing the equipment. The presence of the insoluble products may cause clogging in a system, causing an engine to seize or fail.

Factors that affect fuel stability include:

  • Oxygen
  • Temperature
  • Bacteria or microorganisms
  • Hydrocarbon composition
  • Water

The type of testing used for fuel stability varies as it depends on the fuel requiring analysis. These tests are done before and after the storage process to determine the state at which it can be used effectively. The test also helps in identifying the type of additive to use to enhance the fuel stability of the petroleum product. Failure to determine the fuel stability can lead to high costs and accidents that can be easily avoided.

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