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Distillate Fuel

Last updated: July 19, 2024

What Does Distillate Fuel Mean?

Distillate fuel is a general classification for one of the petroleum fractions produced in conventional distillation operations. It is liquid fuel usually distilled from crude petroleum. It includes diesel fuels and fuel oils.

Distillate fuel is a type of fuel used for internal-combustion vehicles with either mechanical transmissions or electric transmissions. They are used in automobiles, locomotives and agricultural machinery as well as space heaters and power generators.

Contamination of distillate fuels can cause corrosion to fuel tanks and combustion engines.


Corrosionpedia Explains Distillate Fuel

A distillate fuel is any one of the wide variety of fuels obtained from fractions boiling above the temperature at which gasoline comes off in the distillation of petroleum. All of the fuel oil classes are refined from crude petroleum and may be categorized as either a distillate fuel or a residual fuel depending on the method of production. Distillate fuels consist of diesel oils and fuel oils.

Distillate products known as No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 diesel fuel are used in on-highway diesel engines as well as off-highway engines. Products known as No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 fuel oils are used primarily for space heating and electric power generation.

Distillate fuels can become contaminated from inorganic materials such as:

  • Dirt
  • Corrosion products
  • Water
  • Scum & mats from microbiological growth
  • Sediments and gums from oxidative degradation of the fuel itself

This contamination causes formation of sediment, thermal deposits and peroxide buildup. Additives are used to prevent this undesired formation.

Microbial growth in fuel tanks and fuel systems can result in rapid and severe corrosion. For example, occasional problems occur in fuel tanks due to the growth of mold as well as yeast and bacteria which produce organic acids and also stimulate corrosion by creating oxygen gradients which enhance electrochemical corrosion cells. In steel tanks, growth of sulphate reducing bacteria (SRB) in water and sludge in the bottoms of tanks can cause pitting corrosion.


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