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How to detect Water in your Fuel Tank?

Water Contamination in Fuel Tanks

Water can have a detrimental effect on fuel tanks. It can corrode the interior of tanks, increase acid build-up leading to rusting and may also corrode components of the fuel pump being used to dispense fuel from the fuel tank. Water contaminated fuel can cause filters to clog & plug, causing serious damage to the entire fuel system. It can also encourage microbial growth and biodegradation, leading to fuel injector failure.

What Causes Fuel Contamination?

Fuel Contamination is caused when an external factor from the environment mixes with the fuel. Contaminated fuel can cause damage to the fuel system as well as the tank in which the fuel is stored in. Some of the common Fuel Contamination factors include –

  • Microorganisms –While fuels are sterile when they are initially refined, they may become contaminated with microbes that are ever-present in air and water. If fuel tanks are kept open, microorganisms could enter the fuel tank. Some microorganisms thrive inside different types of fuel and can cause irreparable damage to the entire fuel system.
  • Water – Water is one of the most common fuel contaminants. Water may enter tanks due to spillage or as vapour that can be absorbed by the fuel. Water promotes corrosion and can cause damage to the fuel tank as well as the fuel system.
  • Other Fuel – Consignments of fuel are sometimes tainted with other petroleum products, like gasoline. If this happens to the extent that the resulting mixture falls outside of acceptable standards for the fuel, there is no solution and the fuel itself must be re-despatched to the supplier for salvaging.

How to detect Water in Fuel?

If you want to find out if the contaminant in the fuel is water, one of the easiest and the quickest ways to do so is by using the SAR-GEL® Blue Water Finding Paste. The. SAR-GEL® Blue Water Finding Paste can detect water in the tanks containing fuel such as gasoline, E10 gasoline, E15 gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, fuel oil, biodiesel, light crude oil, solvents, and other materials incompatible with water.

Figure 1 SAR-GEL® Water Finding Paste

SAR-GEL® BLUE is carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic (CMR) substances-free and easy to use. It can detect water in the tank in less than 5 seconds for most types of fuel.

Figure 2. Response Time for different Fuel Type

How to use SAR-GEL Blue?

SAR-GEL Blue Water Finding Paste has a very easy use-case mechanism, and the result is available in less than 5 seconds for most fuel types. The steps include –

1. Apply a small amount of the paste to the end of a gauge stick.
2. Spread the orange paste over several inches of the gauge stick.
3. Insert the gauge stick into the tank for the recommended amount of time. (In case of Detection in E10 – E15 fuel types, dip the stick for up to 2 minutes)
4. Water is detected if the orange paste turns a deep blue.


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