The problems plaguing fuels today are multi-fold and begin with the introduction of water, particulate, or cross-contamination. Fuel is vulnerable to water contamination, which can happen at any time during the transportation, delivery or storage of product. Once water enters the fuel system, the perfect breeding ground for colonies of unwanted microbes is formed. Microbes or Hum-bugs (hydrocarbon utilizing microorganism - bugs) begin to multiply at a rapid rate, doubling every twenty minutes in water. The contamination and breeding process well underway, a sinister layer of sludge begins to form on the bottom of the tank.
Contaminants of all kinds make their way into fuel, water being the most common. Water intrusion and contamination can be a sign of something wrong or just a natural occurring process within the fuel system. Water has always been around and it is likely water is already suspended in the product. Condensation, system leaks and transportation errors are all potential causes of contamination.
How has fuel changed? Why is fuel so susceptible to contamination today? There are several other contributing factors that were not always present: reduced sulfur content, removal of lead and the addition of biofuels.