The Problem with Fuels…


Most distillate operability problems revolve around two central issues – the effects of time and temperature on fuel. Petroleum products, like all organic compounds, have a shelf life and will degrade over time - no exceptions. And low temperatures, as we are all aware, can affect heating oil and diesel operation, especially when fuels are stored outdoors.


Time is of the Essence


Heating oil and off-road fuels stored for long periods of time are susceptible to product degradation as they age. Long-term storage of fuels can result in oxidative instability, molecular re-polymerization and the hygroscopic (water retention) effects of ultra-low sulfur fuels and biofuels- leading to rust, corrosion and microbial contamination.


Low Temperature Operability


The most important winter specification relating to heating oil operation is Pour Point - the temperature at which fuel stored outdoors will no longer move or pump. As fuels approach their Pour Point, distributors must intervene to ensure continued low temperature flow in consumers’ tanks.

Pour Point:
Winter Specifications: 0ºF (-18ºC) from August 1 through March 14
Summer Specifications: +10ºF (-12ºC) from March 15 through July 31


The winter specification critical to low temperature diesel operability is Cloud Point - the temperature at which wax crystals first appear in fuel. As fuels approach their Cloud Point, distributors or users must intervene with winter additives or kerosene to ensure paraffinic wax or glycerides (found in biofuels) do not block filter screens or fuel lines.

Cloud Point:
+15ºF (-9ºC) from August 1 through March 14
+20ºF (-7ºC) from March 15 through July 31


Cold Filter Plugging Point is the temperature at which wax crystals or glycerins agglomerate sufficiently to block or restrict fuel passage to the engine, resulting in fuel starvation and downtime.

Cold Filter Plugging Point:
CFPP temperatures vary by base fuel, but usually 3-5° below the Cloud Point


With ADT you’ll find solutions to the unique operating characteristics of today’s ULSD and biofuels, and the challenges of low temperature operation.


Click here to read more about the problems faced by heating oil and on-road fuel consumers and resellers.