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ULSD…Not Your Same Old Diesel Fuel

July 1, 2013

explosion-symbolAt one time, diesel fuel had about 5000 ppm sulfur; then came Low Sulfur Diesel at 500 ppm sulfur.  Today’s Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel is 15 ppm.  ULSD is now the only diesel fuel available in North America; other countries are following our lead.  ULSD plus cleaner-burning diesel engines helps to improve air quality by significantly reducing emissions.

By removing the sulfur and other compounds in Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, its conductivity is decreased and its ability to store a static charge increases.  Refineries have added a static-dissipating additive, but its effectiveness is reduced over time and by passing through filters as it makes its way to your fuel storage tank.  Static charges can build up as the fuel flows though the fuel delivery system.  Diesel fuel is not as combustible as gasoline, but it is combustible. There is the potential for a fire or explosion while fueling your equipment.  Any fire or explosion would cause flaming fuel to come back out the filler neck onto the person fueling the equipment.  This has happened, with tragic results.

It is important to make sure that the entire system used to refuel your equipment (fuel supply tank, transfer pump, transfer hose, nozzle and others) is properly grounded and bonded.

A properly grounded fuel delivery system has an electrically conductive connection from the fuel delivery tank system to earth ground to allow static and electrical charge dissipation. Your truck, with its rubber tires, is pretty well grounded.  Do you have a bed liner in your pickup truck?  If you answered yes, then that fuel tank in the bed of your truck is NOT GROUNDED.  It needs to be bolted directly to the truck to be grounded.

A properly bonded fuel delivery system has an electrically conductive and unbroken connection between all components. A wire connection from the the fuel delivery system to the equipment chassis will equalize the static electric potential between the two machines, reducing the chance of a static electric discharge.  You probably have jumper cables in your truck – they’ll suffice for bonding.

Stay put while refueling the equipment.  If you’re walking around, you could be building a static charge; touch the body of the truck to dissipate any static build up before touching the fueling system.

If you are unsure about how well your system is grounded or have questions about bonding, contact your fuel supplier and have them check your system.

Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel is here, now.  It has dangers its predecessors didn’t. We all need to learn how to handle it safely. Once this rain ends and we are able to be working in the fields again, we’ll all be rushing to catch up.  Don’t take any shortcuts to bonding and grounding while refueling to save time; it could be deadly.

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