Ultra-Low Heating Oil: Maximizing operational performance
By Mark J. Stellmach


What's your No. 1 operational challenge of Ultra-Low Heating Oil?
  • Greater affinity for moisture
  • Lack of sulfur
  • Particulate formation
The purpose of this brief review is to provide direction so as to ensure peak operations of Ultra-Low Heating Oil (ULHO). Ultra-low fuels are here and will quickly become the norm throughout our heating industry. While the good news of cleaner combustion and reduced heat exchanger fouling is real, so are the operational challenges. The primary issues that are creating the operational challenges are:
  1. Greater affinity for moisture
  2. Lack of sulfur reducing the fuels natural resistance to microbial growth
  3. Particulate formation that fouls modern equipment
The resulting problems are increased microbial growth and water present in tanks leading to increased corrosion problems. Also, the increased pump pressures and low tolerances of new high efficiency equipment are much less tolerant of even microscopic particulate.

The good news is that there are a few simple procedures in the form of a little extra TLC for ultra-low fuels to prevent any operational problems.
  1. Stick tanks routinely for water and remove excess water (more than 1/2 inch)
  2. Treat tanks/fuel with a good multifunctional additive to accomplish the following:
    • Prevent tank and fuel system components corrosion
    • Stabilize fuel and keep particulate/sediment from forming
    • Disperse existing particulate/sediment in a controlled manner
    • Keep water out of fuel
    • Discourage bacteria and fungus from establishing a foothold in storage tanks
By enacting a simple program to prevent problems, our heating oil industry, along with our customers, will experience all the good benefits the new fuels have to offer.