Sodium Contamination of Diesel Fuel, its Interaction with Fuel Additives and the Resultant Effects on Filter Plugging and Injector Fouling
Diesel fuel distilled from crude oil should contain no greater than trace amounts of sodium. However, fuel specifications do not include sodium; there is a limit of five parts per million for the amount of sodium plus potassium in fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) used as biodiesel. Sodium compounds are often used as the catalyst for the esterification process for producing FAME and sodium hydroxide is now commonly used in the refining process to produce ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD) fuel from crude oil. Good housekeeping should ensure that sodium is not present in the finished fuel. A finished fuel should not only be free of sodium but should also contain a diesel fuel additive package to ensures the fuel meets the quality standards introduced to provide reliable operation, along with the longevity of the fuel supply infrastructure and the diesel engines that ultimately burn this fuel.