Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Generators: Key to Improve Reliability (7 x 24)

When it comes to reliability, diesel generators are far and away the most important facility in a data center, and regulatory mandates on fuel may be creating new problems that could raise generator failure rates. Reducing its failures has more than 10 times the impact of reducing other component rates.

There are three key threats to generator reliability – fuel quality problems due to old fuel mixing with newer fuel; quality issues with new Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel and bio-diesel fuels; and wear and tear from efforts to start cold generators as quickly as possible.

Fuel Tanks and Mixing Diesel

The leading problem with generators is not the failure to start, but the failure to run properly once the generator has started. One of the key factors is fuel quality: mixing small amounts of older diesel remains in the bottom of a tank with newer diesel when it is refilled.

Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel

Another factor is the regulatory requirement to use Ultra Low-Sulphur Diesel Fuel (ULSD). While ULSD improves the emissions profile of generators, it is less stable than older distillate diesel fuels with a maximum storage time of 6 months. Even if stabilizers are added to extend the storage time, this could result in a higher incidence of accelerated wear on seals.

There are four recommendations on managing the challenge:

(1) Empty and inspect fuel tanks whenever possible (with a good maintenance & operation scheme).

(2) Refine your generator testing policies. Test them as you will run them and the tests should run for 24 to 72 hours to simulate an extended utility outage, which will draw down diesel supplies in ways not seen in shorter periods.

(3) Sample your diesel fuel on a regular basis to track fuel quality.

(4) Make sure you have better connections and agreement with more than one fuel companies so they provide high quality diesel fuel and assistance within a short period of time (say within 2 - 3 hours).

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.

All these events / training seminars are designed to support the leadership needs of senior executives (Chief Information Officers, IT Directors / Managers, Facilities Managers, company decision makers, etc.) and to provide useful and applicable knowledge.

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