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Diesel Fuel Shelf-Life

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by helmetmike, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. helmetmike

    helmetmike Monkey+

    Does anyone know if diesel fuel deteriorates like gasoline. If it does, is there an additive like stabil? I'm trying to decide what is more practical to store, gas or diesel, for a 6-12 mo. period before cycling it into vehicle/tractor usage. I'm getting ready to replace a gas P/U and am considering a diesel.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2015
  3. fireplaceguy

    fireplaceguy Monkey+

    I like diesel engines, and am switching all but one vehicle to diesel just as fast as I can. Diesel engines make gobs of torque, are more durable/reliable and more fuel efficient. I particularly like the first generation Cummins B series - the B3.3t, the 3.9 liter 4bt found in old bread trucks and the 5.9 liter 6bt, which is found in early Dodge pickups, school buses and medium duty trucks. These engines are all-mechanical, and run with just two switched wires - one for the starter solenoid and the other for the fuel shutoff solenoid. People are doing all sorts of interesting swaps with these engines, getting 35-40 mpg out of Explorers and S-10 pickups with the B3.3t and getting mid-to high twenties fuel economy out of full size trucks with the 4bt. (With some tweaking, you can do just about as well with the 6bt.)

    To answer your question, diesel fuel is far more stable than gasoline. It's lower on the distillate totem pole, and therefore less volatile. Your concerns would be that it attracts water, in which algae grows. So, store it in quantity, sealed, at the lowest stable temperature you can manage - something like a root cellar for your fuel would be ideal. Store it in a tank that has a drain at the bottom, and bleed off enough to get rid of accumulated water once or twice a year. Stored that way, it should keep several years at the least.

    Power Research, makers of the fuel preservatives Pri-G (for gasoline) and Pri-D (for diesel) say that you can re-treat stored fuel annually with their products and thus store it indefinitely. They also say you can treat old bad fuel with their products and often make it usable again. (I've spent a while on the phone with them...) I'm now using Pri-G and Pri-D exclusively, but I don't have any long-term results to report yet. I can tell you firsthand that it works great in small engines that are only used seasonally. I believe they are superior to Stabil products, and even if I didn't store any fuel, I would ABSOLUTELY treat the fuel in chainsaws, generators, infrequently driven vehicles and the like with these preservatives.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that I only store summer blend fuels, which are less volatile than winter blends. Also, I have found a country gas station that sells pure gasoline that has no alcohol oxygenators added. Those oxygenators attract water, and should be avoided if possible - particularly for storage and with two-cycle engines where they cause a lot of grief.

    A decade or so ago I read that the military used BHT for fuel preservative. Don't know if they still do, but it's a common food preservative and is easily obtained. I haven't checked into that at all, although with the dollar dropping I'm planning to double my fuel storage before Christmas, so that's on the short list of things to research.

    There's always something to do...
  4. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    I've used PRI products for years. Good stuff.
    Diesel, I think you could store indefinitely.
    Gasoline, I've personally stored 4 years ( 55gal drums ) and it was fine.
  5. helmetmike

    helmetmike Monkey+


    Thanks for the feedback. This site always seems to provide what I'm looking for. I have purchased some Pri-D and decided to try it out for the next year.
  6. Joseph Thomas

    Joseph Thomas Monkey+

    I have hi sulfur diesel from 2004 that I treated with an additive from Diesel Services, Don't know what it's called but supposed to raise cetane level and keep fuel from gelling in winter. I use it in my tractor on a regular basis and no problems at all.
  7. Fieldcraft

    Fieldcraft Monkey+

    Diesel is far superior in nearly every regard to gasoline. Not only does this include the fuel, but also the engines that run on diesel fuel. While you can preserve gasoline for a couple of years at best under ideal storage conditions (cool and in a sealed container with minimal air space), diesel fuel can be preserved under those same ideal conditions for 10 years plus (I have no personal experience beyond 10 years storage). Diesel fuel's worst enemy is water however, water may be removed from diesel fuel by allowing it to settle out since water is heavier than petro fuels. Avoid any diesel additives that contain any form of alcohol as it will allow the water to form smaller droplets. These smaller droplets will defeat the water seperator that most diesel engines use and will make it more difficult to remove the water from your storage tanks. Older diesel engines are better in terms of lack of complexity and expense but do not make the near the power, achieve the efficiency or start as well when cold when compared to modern diesel engines. Another very important characteristic of diesel fuel is that it is much safer to store and handle as it has a higher flashpoint and burns slower so the possibility of fire or explosion is greatly reduced over gasoline.

    Modern diesel engines are very efficient. Their greatest drawbacks are that they are very expensive to procure and maintain and very complex. One of the best diesel passenger truck engines where cost, complexity, efficiency and performance are well-balanced is the Ford 7.3L Direct-Injected Turbocharged engine in the 1999 to 2003 F-Series super-duty trucks. These engines will even run on bio-diesel or used transmission fluid (properly filtered of course).

    In my opinion, diesel engines offer the most for SHTF preparedness, versatility and daily use alike.
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    As one that generates ALL my own Power, using Diesel Gensets, for the last 20+ years, I have considerable experience with this fuel and Gensets. The simple answer to the OP's question is that, CLEAN Diesel Fuel in sealed containers will essentially store for multiple DECADES. There are two things that may cause diesel fuel to "go bad". Bacteria (Bugs) and water. These two things go hand in hand. If you have water in your diesel, AND get some contamination (Bugs) introduced, they will grow at the fuel/water boundary. Living in the water, and feeding on the fuel. Now if you shake up the tank the bugs will get mixed throughout the tank, and plug up your fuel filters. No water, NO Bugs. You can't have Bugs, if you do not have any water. I have burned diesel fuel in my gensets, that was in sealed 55USG Drums back during WWII. Burns just fine, 50 years later. If you get Bugs, then you need to Biocide your tank, and ALL diesel fuel tanks need to have a Water Trap/Tap, along the bottom of the tank, to drain off any accumulation of water. Fuel Filtering is the cheapest Insurance a Genset Operator can buy. I use Racor 10 Micron Master Filters at the tank outlet, with a 20 Micron Primary Filter at each of the Gensets, and whatever the Genset OEM spec'd for the on-engine Secondary Filter. If anyone is contemplating setting up a Diesel Genset fuel system, I will gladly outline what I use here, the design, which has been refined, and in use daily, for the last 20+ years. Just drop me a PM, or eMail.
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