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    Distribution and Storage Problems with Diesel Fuels

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    Last year over 6 billion gallons of diesel fuel were required to satisfy the domestic United States demand. It is estimated that at least 8 million separate product movements were required to get this fuel into the tanks of the ultimate consumers. In fact, the actual number of product movements is probably much higher. For example, in many cases heating oils and diesel fuels are identical products and move through the same distribution systems. Heating oil sales amount to about 15 billion gallons and certainly require at least an additional 15 million product deliveries. These estimates point up the complexity of the problem of distributing diesel fuels. In some cases where the system is relatively straightforward, the fuel is carried in large volume carriers, railroad tank cars, or tank wagons directly from the refinery to the supply tanks of the consumer. In many other cases, the initial delivery is made by tank ship to a marine terminal; from this terminal the fuel is carried by tank car or tank wagon to a bulk plant; from the bulk plant the fuel is transported to service stations; and from the service stations it is sold in small quantities for use on the road. All of these shipments and product movements must be handled in such a way as to minimize inventories, and also to minimize the number of tanks and the number of pieces of mobile equipment required. The optimum choice must be made between two types of systems: (1) delivery of large volumes requiring large-scale tankage and long hauls, and (2) a large number of shorthaul deliveries of small volumes into smaller scale tankage. Furthermore, it is not a case of handling one single product but a multiplicity of products. Generally, at least two or three diesel fuels are involved, and in many cases a separate delivery system for heating oil is also required. This vast number of product movements and the number of times that each product is handled are of great importance, since diesel fuels have very limited tolerance as regards contamination. Everyone is thoroughly familiar with the fact that dirt or abrasive materials of all types must be excluded from diesel fuel oil. However, not as much thought has been given to the fact that there are many other types of contamination which can adversely affect the performance of diesel fuels. These contaminants include water, gasoline, other fuel oils, in fact almost anything else. Unfortunately, a great many people take all too seriously statements regarding the diesel engine's ability to burn “anything that can be pumped.” They do not realize that this statement is figurative rather than literal, as far as the vast majority of diesel equipment is concerned.

    Author Information:

    Moore, C. C.
    Union Oil Co. of California, Brea, Calif.

    Lakin, W. P.
    Union Oil Co. of California, Brea, Calif.

    Committee/Subcommittee: D02.E0

    DOI: 10.1520/STP48306S