April 2002 — By Mike Smith
Shine Your Diesel Oil
|Part 3: Belgoes, Kaydon, Walker|
Belgoes Filtration Systems is a highly regarded builder of polishing systems for yachts and commercial vessels. It manufactures systems that can handle from 10,000 gph to as little as 40 gph. The company’s Web site is full of information about fuel, contaminants, polishing, enzymes that attack tank sludge–you name it. Belgoes polishers rely on "depth-style" Gulf Coast Filters to strip out water and solids less than one micron in diameter. (A depth filter forces the fuel to follow a longer path through a denser element than does the more common edge filter, which moves the fuel through one or more relatively thin paper elements.) Charles Bell, Belgoes’ polishing expert, recommends choosing a filter system rated at two microns or less; filters rated higher than that aren’t good at removing either water or the bodies of deceased microbes, he says. Basic Belgoes fuel polishers suitable for yachts in the 40-foot range cost between $1,300 and $1,500 for the complete kit, plus installation.
Kaydon Filtration Group’s Marine Fuel Guardian System is designed for boats 50 feet and larger. One of its units is being installed by Burger Boat Company aboard its Advanced Construction Series yachts, and the U.S. military uses them to clean the fuel for, among other vehicles, the M-1 Abrams tank. The Fuel Guardian polisher employs a three-stage filter system (two coalescers and a water separator), rated to less than two microns. The company claims it can remove 99.9 percent of the water from fuel in a single pass and reduce overall sediment and moisture to less than .02 percent. Once the system is installed, it’s basically maintenance-free: The water collector drains automatically into a waste tank, and a monitoring system with a remote readout warns when the filter elements need changing. Marine Fuel Guardian Systems start at about $4,000, plus installation.
Walker Engineering utilizes fluid dynamics to spin foreign matter out of the fuel. Within the 40-gph-rated AlgaeSep coalescer, water is separated from diesel as a result of a unique flow pattern that causes the swirling fuel to act like a centrifuge. The unit does not rely on a filter element, although fuel exiting the coalescer is strained through a 25-micron spin-on filter to trap any large particles. According to the folks at Walker, this technology has been proven in high-capacity polishing systems on large ships, and they have reduced it to a size manageable aboard boats as small as 38 feet. The AlgaeSep is compact and self-contained: Mount it on a bulkhead, hook up the fuel lines and wiring, and you’re ready to go. The water has to be drained manually from the coalescer, and the spin-on filter should be changed at least every 250 hours of operation. Cost is $1,750 plus installation.
Once the fuel in your tanks is polished, run the system enough so that every gallon is cleaned again at least once a week. Many skippers polish their fuel for a few hours every day as part of normal yacht maintenance and always polish their diesel during and after every fueling. Follow this polishing schedule and before long your fuel will be as shiny as your stainless steel.
Belgoes Filtration Systems Phone: (866) 235-4637. Fax: (801) 697-3294. www.fuelpolishing.com.
Kaydon Filtration Group Phone: (706) 884-3041. Fax: (706) 883-6199. www.cleanfuelinc.com.
Walker Engineering Phone: (818) 252-7788. Fax: (818) 252-7785. www.walkerairsep.com.
Mike Smith is a licensed yacht- and commercial-boat captain living in Stamford, Connecticut.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.