The fuel system on a diesel engine is a highly specialized set of components which…
Just as the ability to remove excess heat from fuel is an important design consideration in some applications, so is the ability to add heat to fuel in applications involving cold environments. Diesel fuel must not be too warm or too cool. Both cases will reduce life.
With mid-distillate No. 1 or No. 2 diesel fuel, cold weather can cause wax crystals to form in the fuel systems, partially or completely blocking fuel flow. The addition of a small amount of heat to the fuel before it flows through the filter(s) can prevent wax problems. The fuel will flow through pumps and lines but not through filters at temperature below the cloud point (where a cloud or haze appears in the fuel).
At temperatures below the pour point (the lowest temperature that fuel will flow or pour), fuel will not flow in lines or pumps. The use of fuel with a pour point above the minimum expected ambient temperature is not recommended.
Fuel heaters will often solve cloud point problems but not pour point problems unless applied to the entire fuel storage volume.
Consider the following suggestions when applying fuel heaters to Cat engines.
- Fuel heaters should be used when the ambient temperature is below the fuel cloud point. Many types of
heaters can be used; however, the fuel should be heated before the first filter in the fuel system. Fuel heaters
should not be used when the ambient temperature exceeds 15°C (60°F). Under no condition should the maximum fuel temperature at the outlet of the fuel heater exceed the limit specified on the previous page.
- Heaters used should be capable of handling the maximum fuel flow of the engine. The restriction created
should not exceed published levels of the engine (published values for fuel flow and allowable restriction can be
found in the TMI).
- Coolant may be taken from taps on the engine when using the engine as a heat source. Care must be taken to
assure that coolant shunting to one system does not adversely affect another system, and that both have adequate flow.
CAUTION: Failed water sourced fuel heaters can introduce excessive water into the engine fuel system and cause injector failure.
Maintenance responsibility of this type of heater must be clearly defined.
- Fuel heaters offered by Caterpillar use engine coolant to heat the fuel and prevent the development of solid wax
- When any fuel heater is used and ambient temperatures are below approximately 0°C (32°F), the engine should be started and run at low idle until the engine temperature rises slightly. This allows heat transfer to the fuel before high fuel flow rates at high power output are experienced by the system. This will reduce the possibility of wax plugging the fuel filter shortly after a cold start.