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Contamination levels of liquid fuel entering the combustor of a gas turbine or diesel engine must be low to avoid high temperature corrosion and fuel system fouling. Accordingly, each of the major gas turbine and diesel engine manufacturers has strict contamination limits that must be met in order to comply with the warranty requirements. The responsibility to assure compliance lies with the owner of the user and can only be guaranteed with on-site fuel analysis for contaminants and ash-forming metals.
Operating experience has shown that some of the ash-forming substances that may be present in a fuel can lead to corrosion and deposit problems. Ash-forming materials such as sodium. Potassium and vanadium may be in a fuel as oil-soluble organometallic compounds, as water soluble salts or as solid foreign contamination. Their presence and concentration varies with the geographical source of a crude oil and they are concentrated in the residual fractions during the refining process. Although the remaining distillates are typically contaminant free, ash-forming materials may be introduced later in the form of salt-bearing water or by mixture with other petroleum products during transportation or storage.
Fuel analysis is an integral part of a fuel quality management program. It is used first to determine need for treatment, the extent of treatment when required, and later, the effectiveness of the treatment. It starts with the delivery of the fuel, continues throughout fuel handling and ends only as the fuel is injected into the turbine or diesel engine.
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