Do you know which kind of fuel your machines need? What about their characteristics and usage? One of the most common questions asked about diesel fuel is what it is and how it works with the diesel engine.
Before we dive into the details, let’s address some of the basics about this fuel. You cannot take good care of your trucks when you do not understand the energy that you are using. Without such knowledge, it will also be difficult to protect the engines.
Here are the top seven things you should know about diesel fuel to get you started on your way.
1. What Is Diesel Fuel?
Diesel fuel is a refined form of crude oil. In North America, it is normally referred to as distillate because it undergoes distillation processes. Distillation, like refining, removes impurities and can make one product lighter than another.
More specifically, distillation involves boiling a liquid to separate it into components with different boiling points. In diesel’s case, small hydrocarbon molecules evaporate before larger ones do, resulting in more energy-dense molecules that you see at your local pump.
Other products of crude oil distillation include:
- Natural gas
- Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
These products bear a lot of similarities, but they are also unique in their composition.
2. Is Diesel Engine Fuel Different Than Gasoline?
While most vehicles today have either a gasoline engine or a diesel engine, there are some key differences between these fuel types.
The most noticeable is their energy content or energy density. Gasoline has an energy density of 12,000 BTUs per gallon, while diesel comes in at 42,000 BTUs per gallon.
That means that you can travel much farther on a gallon of diesel than on a gallon of gasoline. It will also be more cost-effective to use diesel for long trips and save your gas when you need to hit local gas stations.
3. How Can I Tell if My Truck Runs on Diesel?
A lot of diesel engine trucks use a similar type of fuel. Even though there are many similarities, it’s still important to know what kind of fuel your vehicle uses. The easiest way to tell is by looking at your truck’s sticker located on or near your gas tank.
If you can’t find it, call your local mechanic and ask them to check for you. Make sure you let them know what kind of truck you drive so they don’t have to guess.
4. What Does ULSD Stand For?
Just as we are accustomed to using regular gasoline in our vehicles, most diesel trucks and cars are designed to use what is commonly known as ULSD (ultra-low sulfur diesel) fuel. It’s an alternative to regular or high sulfur diesel. Sulfur is added to conventional diesel fuel to provide lubrication for older engines.
This fuel comes with ultra-low sulfur diesel, and lubrication may be provided by synthetic oil. As you can imagine, ULSD contains less sulfur than traditional fuels, making it much safer for newer engines designed with low-sulfur standards in mind.
5. Is There a Difference Between Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and Regular Diesel?
Not all diesel is created equal. Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) became mandatory for on-road use in 2010. Low Sulfur Diesel (LSD) has been around since 2007, and you can even go back to 1993 to find Ultra Low Sulfur Kerosene (ULK).
Different grades of diesel are meant for different uses. For instance, ULSD is used in highway vehicles with engines that meet Tier II or Tier III emissions standards. It also meets specifications for marine applications, including medium-speed engines. LS fuel is designed for use in off-road vehicles, forklifts, and backup generators.
But what about regular diesel?
The answer may surprise you. It turns out there’s no such thing as the regular grade of fuel. It’s just called diesel. When we refer to regular diesel, we’re referring to ultra-low sulfur content.
That’s why modern trucks now run on ultra-low sulfur diesel — the same stuff available at your local gas station. If you talk to an industrial fuel supplier, you will find out that the most important thing is to find the right fuel for your specific needs.
6. Will Biodiesel Work in My Diesel Engine?
If you own a diesel engine, you might be tempted to fill it with biodiesel or vegetable oil. But will it work?
The short answer is no. Vegetable oil and biodiesel can’t be used in a diesel engine because they aren’t refined for use in engines.
To give you some perspective, running unrefined fuel through your fuel system will gunk up your injectors and render them unusable. Biodiesel is actually made using diesel fuel, so not only will biodiesel not work in a non-diesel engine but running non-diesel fuel through your system won’t work either.
If you want to run vegetable oil or biodiesel in your car, buy a new car that runs on it specifically.
7. How Do I Get ULSD at Home?
To bring ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel into your home, you’ll need a few special pieces of equipment.
The first is a diesel exhaust fluid tank, which is about two feet tall and one foot wide. This will be fitted under your vehicle in place of any gas tank, according to ULSD regulations.
There are only a few brands that are approved for use with ULSD fuel. As a result, once you have your tank installed and start using it, you won’t be able to use normal diesel again—at least not without fitting an entirely new tank.
Thankfully, they make tanks designed specifically for both purposes. If you buy one brand new, it should last for decades.
Get Quality Diesel Fuel From the Best Suppliers
Whether you want to power your truck or any other machine, you need quality diesel fuel. Protecting your engine should be a top priority, which is why you cannot use every available product. Find a reputable supplier and stick to them.
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