Changes to the Composition of Rebated Fuel (Red Diesel)

17 February 2020 Industry News Promotions

Fuel Filter Blocking

A communication recently sent from Jimmy Lockhart, Aftermarket Solutions Director.

Nearly six years have passed since I wrote to you regarding enforced changes in the composition of red diesel, which at that time were centred around sulphur reduction and the necessity to adopt road quality (EN590) for use in Final Tier 3 and 4 engines. It is therefore pleasing in many respects that there has been a significant period of stability. However, you will doubtless be aware that since around August last year, we have been experiencing issues with premature blocking of fuel filters. It seems that this situation will remain with us for some time yet so I thought it would be useful to share some of the facts I have been gathering along with some recommendations on how to reduce your exposure to extra costs and downtime.

  • On 1st January 2019, legislation was introduced to increase the bio or FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) percentage in both EN590 and BS2868 rebated fuel from 7% to 8.5%. From 1st January 2020, it should have increased to 9.75%.
  • In April/May 2019, the cost of “buying out” of the necessity to add FAME increased above the cost of FAME.
  • The UK Government stipulated that FAME will be predominantly sourced from “frying oil”.
  • The EU uses predominantly virgin rapeseed oil as FAME and the UK standard for FAME is different from the rest of the EU.
  • The independent fuel suppliers and wholesalers seem to have limited control of the product they are buying from refineries or blenders.
  • The current increase in premature fuel filter blocking is in the main caused by the increased FAME content along with the type of FAME.
  • (Connected to 6.) Although there are shelf-life issues and detergent effects related to diesel containing FAME, premature fuel filter blocking seems in the main to stem from the size of particulate contained in the FAME.
  • Bulk fuel deliveries ordinarily are filtered to 50 micron.
  • Although all tractor manufacturers are experiencing premature filter blocking issues, some brands seem to be less susceptible. This is because of differing filter size and micron rating.
  • There are now issues around fuel filter blocking being reported in the truck and
    car sectors.
  • It is possible that red EN590 is not just “forecourt” EN590 with a red dye added.

In summary, it seems that it will take some time yet for the UK Government and refineries to make any changes to the fuel you are buying and the independent wholesalers seem unable to help.

So the first thing I recommend is that as soon as possible you take the opportunity to review and, if necessary, improve your bulk fuel housekeeping. To assist with this we are recommending that you consider installing filtration on the discharge side of your bulk fuel tanks. We are also suggesting that the addition of a particular fuel additive may assist in breaking down the particulate within the FAME. We have had this product on test with one of our customers for around two months and the feedback is currently very positive. Details of these two suggestions along with information on a fuel filter promotion we have in place until 31st March 2020 can be found below.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jimmy Lockhart, Aftermarket Solutions Director, on 01603 728027 or your local Ben Burgess Service Manager.

Fuel filter blocking