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Eberspachers and Biodiesel

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I had an interesting conversation with one of Scotland's Eberpacher main dealers yesterday. Since the finish of the first lockdown period in Scotland, when hire boating finally began for the 2020 season, he's had 7 heaters in for repair from the Scottish Canals'-operated hire boat fleet of 19 boats. This is a disproportionately high number of failures, all of which he has found to be pump-related. Basically, the hire boats (and therefore their diesel heaters) have lain idle for up to a total of 9 months without use. Grangemouth, the local refinery that supplies Scottish Canals with fuel for the hire fleet, their own plant and equipment and their boater customers, stopped selling FAME-free diesel approximately 18 months ago so fuel purchased last Summer/Autumn (2019) will have been from the first batch containing biodiesel at 7% (B7) to go into the navigation authority's tanks.

 

The only explanation that said main dealer can come up with – and he stresses this is pure conjecture – is that the heaters' seals have been in contact with the biodiesel component for so long that, although the concentration is low (and supposedly within an acceptable range for unimpaired diesel engine performance) it is the duration of contact without operation that has led to swelling, distortion and the like. He also noted that Eberspacher state that biodiesel should not be used in their heaters.

 

I'm assuming that this refers to 1st generation biodiesel – produced by the transesterification process – and the product that is currently added to dino-diesel to produce the B7 blend sold at the pumps and from boatyards. Through the IWA's Sustainable Propulsion Group*, I am currently doing trials with 2nd generation biodiesel (having already gained 17 years experience with using the 1st generation product in my own vehicles) and known as Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO) with the prime objective of establishing that it is compatible with the range of domestic heating devices and collection of engines found on inland craft. Based on my own experience (and in tandem with many others far wiser than myself) I had come to the conclusion that 1st generation biodiesel had no place in the marine environment; certainly not at B100!

 

There is already a vast range of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) approval covering a wide selection of diesel engine manufacture for HVO so the most 'interesting' engine trials are so far confined to a Bolinder and a Gardner. An air-cooled 3-cylinder Lister has been lined up and all the 'usual suspects' will ultimately be included. As far as the aforementioned Eberspacher (and its Mukuni and Webasto cousins) are concerned, I suspect that HVO is not going to be a problem as there will already be a large number of lorries out there (c/w cab heaters) running around on the stuff. It is interesting to note the range of organisation that have already moved to HVO in pursuit of greatly improved emissions and the 90% carbon neutrality of the product. These include Land and Water, an Isle of Wight ferry and a fleet of tugs operating on the estuarine Thames.

 

I'd be very interested to hear any comments on the effect of the 1st generation biodiesel on Eberspacher-type heaters, based on readers experience, as this is something of a deviation from the currently perceived issues revolving around diesel bug, which will only get worse as the 2024 Government target of B12 approaches!

 

It is probably worth adding that HVO has none of the issues connected with Ist generation biodiesel and is in many ways superior to dino-diesel, having a 10-year minimum shelf life, higher cetane number and lower NoX emissions amongst others. Green D+ achieves a 33% reaction in NoX due to its organic additive package. Oh, and it has no smell in the tank, with little odour from the exhaust when burnt in a Dickinson Adriatic cook stove: the trial it is currently undergoing in my own boat!

 

https://www.crownoil.co.uk/products/hvo-fuel-hydrotreated-vegetable-oil/?utm_keyword=crown%20oil%20hvo&gclid=Cj0KCQiAqdP9BRDVARIsAGSZ8AnULeXtXk_SUh_erPB8HFYe2NUkRzLV2eFdrooc2JYcgB3SmutKwiYaAlPpEALw_wcB. There's a video and an invitation to a webinar in amongst that lot!

 

https://newerafuels.co.uk/green-d-hvo/

 

https://www.gbf.ltd – see video   

 

*https://www.waterways.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/IWA-Sustainable-Propulsion-Vision-September-2020.pdf – Section 7 covers biofuels

 

 

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The most common problem we are finding with heaters that have been un-used for a while this year is that the small ball bearing inside the fuel pump which acts as a non return valve sticks in situ and starves the unit of diesel. Whether this is down to biodiesel, or just long period sat doing nothing we cant tell...yet.

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10 minutes ago, Up-Side-Down said:

I had an interesting conversation with one of Scotland's Eberpacher main dealers yesterday. Since the finish of the first lockdown period in Scotland, when hire boating finally began for the 2020 season, he's had 7 heaters in for repair from the Scottish Canals'-operated hire boat fleet of 19 boats. This is a disproportionately high number of failures, all of which he has found to be pump-related. Basically, the hire boats (and therefore their diesel heaters) have lain idle for up to a total of 9 months without use. Grangemouth, the local refinery that supplies Scottish Canals with fuel for the hire fleet, their own plant and equipment and their boater customers, stopped selling FAME-free diesel approximately 18 months ago so fuel purchased last Summer/Autumn (2019) will have been from the first batch containing biodiesel at 7% (B7) to go into the navigation authority's tanks.

 

The only explanation that said main dealer can come up with – and he stresses this is pure conjecture – is that the heaters' seals have been in contact with the biodiesel component for so long that, although the concentration is low (and supposedly within an acceptable range for unimpaired diesel engine performance) it is the duration of contact without operation that has led to swelling, distortion and the like. He also noted that Eberspacher state that biodiesel should not be used in their heaters.

 

I'm assuming that this refers to 1st generation biodiesel – produced by the transesterification process – and the product that is currently added to dino-diesel to produce the B7 blend sold at the pumps and from boatyards. Through the IWA's Sustainable Propulsion Group*, I am currently doing trials with 2nd generation biodiesel (having already gained 17 years experience with using the 1st generation product in my own vehicles) and known as Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO) with the prime objective of establishing that it is compatible with the range of domestic heating devices and collection of engines found on inland craft. Based on my own experience (and in tandem with many others far wiser than myself) I had come to the conclusion that 1st generation biodiesel had no place in the marine environment; certainly not at B100!

 

There is already a vast range of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) approval covering a wide selection of diesel engine manufacture for HVO so the most 'interesting' engine trials are so far confined to a Bolinder and a Gardner. An air-cooled 3-cylinder Lister has been lined up and all the 'usual suspects' will ultimately be included. As far as the aforementioned Eberspacher (and its Mukuni and Webasto cousins) are concerned, I suspect that HVO is not going to be a problem as there will already be a large number of lorries out there (c/w cab heaters) running around on the stuff. It is interesting to note the range of organisation that have already moved to HVO in pursuit of greatly improved emissions and the 90% carbon neutrality of the product. These include Land and Water, an Isle of Wight ferry and a fleet of tugs operating on the estuarine Thames.

 

I'd be very interested to hear any comments on the effect of the 1st generation biodiesel on Eberspacher-type heaters, based on readers experience, as this is something of a deviation from the currently perceived issues revolving around diesel bug, which will only get worse as the 2024 Government target of B12 approaches!

 

It is probably worth adding that HVO has none of the issues connected with Ist generation biodiesel and is in many ways superior to dino-diesel, having a 10-year minimum shelf life, higher cetane number and lower NoX emissions amongst others. Green D+ achieves a 33% reaction in NoX due to its organic additive package. Oh, and it has no smell in the tank, with little odour from the exhaust when burnt in a Dickinson Adriatic cook stove: the trial it is currently undergoing in my own boat!

 

https://www.crownoil.co.uk/products/hvo-fuel-hydrotreated-vegetable-oil/?utm_keyword=crown%20oil%20hvo&gclid=Cj0KCQiAqdP9BRDVARIsAGSZ8AnULeXtXk_SUh_erPB8HFYe2NUkRzLV2eFdrooc2JYcgB3SmutKwiYaAlPpEALw_wcB. There's a video and an invitation to a webinar in amongst that lot!

 

https://newerafuels.co.uk/green-d-hvo/

 

https://www.gbf.ltd – see video   

 

*https://www.waterways.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/IWA-Sustainable-Propulsion-Vision-September-2020.pdf – Section 7 covers biofuels

 

 

You could  run your heater on 28 sec. Kerosene instead of diesel.

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23 minutes ago, Flyboy said:

You could  run your heater on 28 sec. Kerosene instead of diesel.

I certainly could, especially as I have two, quite separate,  tanks on the boat. However, the objective of the trial is to ensure that the typical narrowboat with a single tank, a diesel engine and a diesel heating device will have no problems running everything on HVO.

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18 minutes ago, Flyboy said:

You could  run your heater on 28 sec. Kerosene instead of diesel.

The instruction book that came with mine,says kerosene is ok.

However it is a Chinese copy of a Russian copy of an Eberspacher.

So the instructions have gone from German to Russian to Chinese to English.So you can now not make head nor tail of the instuctions.

I know you are not supposed to run diesel engines on kero without adding some lube for the injector pump,and I don't know if this applies to the fuel pump on a diesel heater.

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26 minutes ago, matty40s said:

The most common problem we are finding with heaters that have been un-used for a while this year is that the small ball bearing inside the fuel pump which acts as a non return valve sticks in situ and starves the unit of diesel. Whether this is down to biodiesel, or just long period sat doing nothing we cant tell...yet.

That's very interesting to hear Matty. I'm keen to hear of any further experience or thoughts that you have in the future.

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1 hour ago, Mad Harold said:

The instruction book that came with mine,says kerosene is ok.

However it is a Chinese copy of a Russian copy of an Eberspacher.

So the instructions have gone from German to Russian to Chinese to English.So you can now not make head nor tail of the instuctions.

I know you are not supposed to run diesel engines on kero without adding some lube for the injector pump,and I don't know if this applies to the fuel pump on a diesel heater.

I don't think there is a problem with the fuel pump on kerosene. I know several people that have been running on it for years without problems. 

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5 hours ago, Mad Harold said:

However it is a Chinese copy of a Russian copy of an Eberspacher.

Crikey, you were lucky! The Russian copy of the Chinese copy has better instructions, but its an awful piece of kit. ;)

 

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I have a bottle of stuff from Halfords to add to diesel, to clean injectors, 

I'm a bit afraid of putting in the tank, which  serves the Eberspacher and the engine, any comments, Eberspacher makes a bit of a racket, and I ran it every month since I read acid causes problems.

Edited by LadyG

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7 minutes ago, LadyG said:

I have a bottle of stuff from Halfords to add to diesel, to clean injectors, 

I'm a bit afraid of putting in the tank, which  serves the Eberspacher and the engine, any comments, Eberspacher makes a bit of a racket, and I ran it every month since I read acid causes problems.

 

Gaviscon ?

  • Greenie 1

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6 minutes ago, LadyG said:

I have a bottle of stuff from Halfords to add to diesel, to clean injectors, 

I'm a bit afraid of putting in the tank, which  serves the Eberspacher and the engine, any comments, Eberspacher makes a bit of a racket, and I ran it every month since I read acid causes problems.

I  use  a fuel additive and and  have never been afraid  to use the Eberspacher .

The heater needed a new ECU but I don't blame that on the fuel, nor the additive.

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8 minutes ago, MartynG said:

I  use  a fuel additive and and  have never been afraid  to use the Eberspacher .

The heater needed a new ECU but I don't blame that on the fuel, nor the additive.

Yes I occasionally use the additive 16, but that's not to clean injectors. I put some fuelset16  in to a small sample of fresh diesel which had been standing for a few days in containers, it still found water, very little, just a kind of mini tadpole of darker stuff.

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In the oil heating industry generally, components have been modified to run on bio fuels. I have encountered many leaking filter seals on domestic boilers where the bio content in kerosene is significantly less than in 35 sec oil. The reduction of the sulphur content in fuels some years ago was responsible for component failure as it reduced the lubricity of the fuel. I would think that the sticking non return valves are down to lack of use rather than fuel problems.

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20 minutes ago, LadyG said:

Yes I occasionally use the additive 16, but that's not to clean injectors. I put some fuelset16  in to a small sample of fresh diesel which had been standing for a few days in containers, it still found water, very little, just a kind of mini tadpole of darker stuff.

Fuel set and Marine 16  (if that's what you mean) work in different ways . I suggest  sticking  to one fuel additive product.

 

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Same issue with cars and Ethanol in the petrol, the old  rubber type seals swell up. I had 1973 Triumph trident had to make sure all seals were the new E10 proof type.

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19 hours ago, Flyboy said:

transesterification

That is where I decided to be kind of 'lost' despite being in the refined and not so refined fuel/energy business since 1975.

 

My son has successfully run the Eberspacher in his old van on a used cooking oil mixture for years - carefully Filtered of course.

In fact he has often run the van on it mixed 50:50 with red diesel when things were a bit tight.

 

Apart from getting a bit smoky and needing cleaning a bit more often, the constant smell of bacon and eggs made us feel hungry most of the time.

 

Back to the OP, I suspect that the Bio bit of the diesel used in the boats has resulted in gummed up pump valves more than anything else, just like ethanol builds up a waxy deposit in petrol tanks if not used regularly.

An additive would help if the diesel is to stand in the boats unused for a long time. Better still if it is a Hire Fleet, empty the tanks and refill with fresh fuel immediately prior to use.

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23 hours ago, LadyG said:

I have a bottle of stuff from Halfords to add to diesel, to clean injectors, 

I'm a bit afraid of putting in the tank, which  serves the Eberspacher and the engine, any comments, Eberspacher makes a bit of a racket, and I ran it every month since I read acid causes problems.

I use Hydra Diesel Power Blast Injector Cleaner in my road vehicles and have no doubt that it does the business. Definitely not snake oil! Amongst their range of other additives there is a heating oil treatment, although I suspect Power Blast Injector Cleaner marketed for diesel engines will achieve much the same thing in an Eberspacher. It will certainly clean up the fuel injection side of your engine. Worth studying their literature: www.hydra-fueladditives.com

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10 hours ago, MarkH2159 said:

That is where I decided to be kind of 'lost' despite being in the refined and not so refined fuel/energy business since 1975.

 

My son has successfully run the Eberspacher in his old van on a used cooking oil mixture for years - carefully Filtered of course.

In fact he has often run the van on it mixed 50:50 with red diesel when things were a bit tight.

 

Apart from getting a bit smoky and needing cleaning a bit more often, the constant smell of bacon and eggs made us feel hungry most of the time.

 

Back to the OP, I suspect that the Bio bit of the diesel used in the boats has resulted in gummed up pump valves more than anything else, just like ethanol builds up a waxy deposit in petrol tanks if not used regularly.

An additive would help if the diesel is to stand in the boats unused for a long time. Better still if it is a Hire Fleet, empty the tanks and refill with fresh fuel immediately prior to use.

Describes the process of adding methanol and sodium hydroxide to waste cooking oil to produce what is now known as 1st generation biodiesel, which is generally not reckoned to be compatible with the marine environment.

 

Thanks for your observations re gummed up pump valves. Although quite different, I've come unstuck with 1st generation B100 biodiesel used in a common rail fuel injection system recently. Consensus of opinion amongst diesel specialists is that when used in high pressure systems there is a lacquering of injector tips. I had to replace two injectors: an expensive lesson after 17 years relatively trouble-free biodiesel use!

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22 hours ago, MartynG said:

Fuel set and Marine 16  (if that's what you mean) work in different ways . I suggest  sticking  to one fuel additive product.

 

Its Marine 16, as used by The RNLI, I was told

 

23 minutes ago, Up-Side-Down said:

I use Hydra Diesel Power Blast Injector Cleaner in my road vehicles and have no doubt that it does the business. Definitely not snake oil! Amongst their range of other additives there is a heating oil treatment, although I suspect Power Blast Injector Cleaner marketed for diesel engines will achieve much the same thing in an Eberspacher. It will certainly clean up the fuel injection side of your engine. Worth studying their literature: www.hydra-fueladditives.com

OK  I'll give it a try  , what can possibly go wrong (rhetoric I guess Idon't want to know).

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On 21/11/2020 at 18:41, LadyG said:

Its Marine 16, as used by The RNLI, I was told

 

OK  I'll give it a try  , what can possibly go wrong (rhetoric I guess Idon't want to know).

It is indeed which is why I use it. The PBO diesel bug additive trial, although a few years old now, is still regarded as the go to source of info on the subject: https://www.pbo.co.uk/gear/12-diesel-bug-treatments-tested-43353

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7 minutes ago, Up-Side-Down said:

It is indeed which is why I use it. The PBO diesel bug additive trial, although a few years old now, is still regarded as the go to source of info on the subject: https://www.pbo.co.uk/gear/12-diesel-bug-treatments-tested-43353

Remember the test house they used was not exactly independent re the products tested. Not saying the test were deliberately biased but I felt the comparison of emulsifies with biocides using fixed time periods could well have produced a bias to the biocides as far as killing bug was concerned. I don't see how two different types of products that should be used and perform in different ways can be properly compared with the same test procedure. Still, its the best we have to date.

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