Friday, November 8, 2013

Diesel Fuel: How Critical for your Standby Power?

Data center downtime is a familiar topic in the industry; however avoiding down time through proactive fuel management is not common knowledge in the field despite an emerging relevance. A vast majority of data centers use diesel to supply their backup power systems.

Historically diesel could be stored for extended periods at a time and function smoothly when needed. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. The environmental burden of diesel has been reduced by government mandates reducing the sulphur content of diesel and introducing bio-diesel blends. However, in doing so, the need to manage stored diesel has surfaced.

Changes in Diesel

The process to remove sulphur in diesel can affect the functionality of the fuel, to compensate, refiners include additives. Some of these additives, such as certain forms of lubricants, de-icers and bio-diesel itself increase the ability of the fuel to absorb water.

Effects on Your Generator

Water in diesel causes problems and subsequently leads to diesel generators either not kicking in, or failing mid-operation, when standby power is needed in emergency backup situations. It will be a disaster situation when data centers and other critical facilities, such as hospitals, faced severe down time as a result of backup generators not functioning as expected.

Fuel Management: Fuel Testing

A comprehensive fuel management strategy begins with knowing what type of fuel you have, and the state it is being stored in. Research into bio-diesel mandates in your area and perform regular onsite and offsite testing to see the bio-diesel, water and microbial contamination of your fuel (microbial growth is a sign that troubles lie ahead).

Fuel Management: Fuel Polishing

According to Polaris Laboratories, “in systems prone to water contamination,” (such as fuel storage tanks) “it is imperative that the contaminated oil be able to shed water, or demulsify in order to maintain lubricity, viscosity and prevent the formation of acids.”

To begin creating a fuel management protocol, evaluate the tank, piping and generator set up to highlight areas of weakness; consider the impact of likely site temperature and humidity ranges.

The Uptime Institute’s technical paper, titled Biodiesel, suggests finding a fuel polishing system utilizing coalescing filters which have been proven to remove water suspended within the fuel (emulsified water). An automated fuel polishing system is recommended; continuously remove water and particulates, ensuring emergency ready fuel all the time.

About The Blogger

Strategic Media Asia (SMA, is a leading technical training and event organizer for corporations specialized in data center design & build, E&M facilities, telecom, ICT, finance and colocation. Currently, SMA delivers a series of data center trainings and qualification programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

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