IASH Newsletter, Issue #29, November 2003

FUEL AND FUEL SYSTEM MICROBIOLOGY: FUNDAMENTALS, DIAGNOSIS AND CONTAMINATION CONTROL -- A NEW ASTM MANUAL
by Fred Passman, BCA, Inc.

In June 2003, ASTM International published Manual 47: Fuel and Fuel System Microbiology. This new manual grew out of a need recognized by Subcommittee D.02.14 Fuel Microbiology Task Group as we were wrapping up our work on D6469 Standard Guide for Microbial Contamination in Fuels and Fuel Systems. In keeping with ASTM's policy of succinctness, D 6469 introduces quite a few concepts without offing much in the way of amplifying background information. Additionally, D6469 lists various tests that can be used to diagnose biodeterioration and differentiate it from deterioration due to non-microbiological causes. However, quite a few of the suggested methods are found in ASTM's Annual Book of Standards volumes not commonly available in fuel labs.

Consequently, Manual 47 was written with two primary objectives in mind. First, it provides the background information only hinted at in D 6469. Second, it pulls, into a single document, all of the methods referenced in D 6469, but not published in ASTM's Annual Book of Standard Vol. 05.01 through 05.04. The new manual contains three original chapters, a glossary and a compilation of the non-volume 5 methods referenced in D6469.

Chapter 1 is my version of Microbiology 101 for petroleum industry personnel. In it, I write about the fundamental concepts of biodeterioration and microbiology relevant to fuels and fuel systems. In Chapter 2, Graham Hill explains the unique considerations pertinent to sample collection for microbiological testing. Graham provides guidance on planning a sampling effort and details for sampling and subsequent sample handling. The third chapter, written by Howard Chesneau, reviews the options for dealing with degraded fuel. After reviewing the basic considerations that should guide operators’ remediation decisions, the chapter explains alternative fuel polishing and tank cleaning processes and discusses the use of antimicrobial agents to control microbial contamination in fuel systems. Howard’s chapter concludes with a discussion of contamination strategies. Each chapter includes a list of references for readers who are interested in exploring any particular topic in more detail. The combination of the three original chapters, glossary and compiled standards make Manual 47 a must have for every petroleum testing lab and every petroleum industry person responsible for product quality or system integrity.