Fuel Tanks for Sale: Can They Get Infected with Bacteria?

The question of whether fuel tanks for sale has any possibility of getting infected with bacteria, fungi, and yeast or not is very likely. It is a fact of life, the diesel fuel’s microbial contamination can’t be denied as untrue. This is not a question of “if”, but it is a matter of “when”. 

The rule of thumb here is when water and diesel came into contact with each other inside a fuel tank, microbes, bacteria, and fungi are likely to proliferate, soon. Regardless if it is mold, fungi or bacteria, it the growth is going to be held in check, it will lead to fuel tank sludge, clogged filters, or injector failure. 

Since water is denser and heavier than fuel diesel molecules, it is normal for them to settle at the bottom part of your tank. Regardless, how well you maintain a yacht’s fuel tank, that would not eliminate the possibility that small amount of water could find its way to the tank and consequently sink its way to the bottom. A tiny drop of water can find its way to your tank in a variety of ways. Here are some of its possible sources.  

Freshly refined fuel diesel contains some water. While its high temperature subsides, the natural tendency of the water it contains is to separate itself. 

While in transit from refinery via barges and tankers, there is a good possibility that fuel can get mixed with ballast water. 

Water from washdowns, sea spray, and rain can find their way to the tank vents and deck fuel fillers. 

Air humidity is likely to condense out on the fuel tank walls. It tends to drop to the bottom part of the tank. If you can see dew on your car windshield in the morning, there is a good possibility that there is dew in the fuel tank. This explains why it is crucial that you follow the axiom “make it a habit to have your fuel tanks topped up. 

By virtue of having your fuel tank full to the brim, there is a very little chance that humid in the air would condense onto the walls of your tank.  

The water that settled at the bottom part of a fuel tank is an ideal breeding ground for various microorganisms. Many species of microbes will thrive on the fuel’s hydrocarbons. This will result in the proliferation of fungi and bacteria which are likely to feed off from the water/fuel interface, together with the large colonies that may be floating in the water under that interface.

Furthermore, microbes and bacteria are likely to adhere themselves to the surrounding walls of the tank and it will not take them a long time to grow fast and be able to coat a significant area of the said wall with their slimy goo. 

In the preliminary stages of the aerobic bacteria and microbial contamination, they will make use of the oxygen dissolved water for respiration purposes. If this limited supply of oxygen gets depleted the anaerobic bacteria is the next in line to take over. They are sulfate-reducing bacteria and will need oxygen to survive. 

They will transform the sulfates and hydrogen in the diesel fuel so that it can provide to them the energy they require for their life cycle. This kind of bacterial conversion will lead to the production of hydrogen sulfide. This gives off an effluvium very much similar to that of rotten eggs. But it is not the fetid smell that you should concern yourself about but the corrosive effect this compound has to engine parts and metal fuel tanks.  

When fuel tanks are heavily contaminated with water, mold, and bacteria,  a comprehensive round of tank clean-up job is imperative. Compared to fuel polishing, we will qualify this as a bit more extensive work that needed to be done in no time.

Initially, you need to suck out all the sludge and the water that is sitting at the bottom of the tank. They should be contained and get rid of in what can be best described as an environment-friendly fashion since this kind of waste is a qualified marine environment biohazard. 

At a minimum, it is paramount that you carry out a thorough cleaning job on your fuel tanks. In an ideal setting, fuel tanks should be checked out and cleaned at least once every 6 months. 

If you will come across some fuel tanks for sale, that does not mean they are not likely to get contaminated soon after you start using them. 

If you want to wage a serious war against contamination or mitigate the chances of your fuel diesel from getting infected with bacteria or fungi, the watchword to keep in mind here is vigilance. And the ultimate reward for your efforts would be no less than a trouble-free,  hassle-free and seamless diesel engine operation. 

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