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Regards and felicitations, Captain,

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Thanks for responding to my post about diesel fuel additives. Forums such as these are so very useful for discussing and understanding the needs of the sailing community. If I can shine a light into a dark corner and perhaps save someone some grief or money, I am glad to help in whatever way I can.

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First, let me mention that I noted your entry about having removed your fuel tank and cleaning it. That was also one of my first jobs when I bought my current boat 13 years ago. We (the seller and I) had to change the fuel filter three times on the 10 mile round trip to and from the travel lift, a dead giveaway of fuel contamination.

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Let's break this discussion down into its separate issues;

Taking StarTron's claims at face value, we need to know exactly what their enzymes do to improve the fuel purity that flows into the engine. I will mention here that after passing through one or more filters, the diesel fuel passes through the lift pump and into the high pressure fuel pump where the pressure is increased upwards of 1,000 pounds per square inch and then forced through the fuel injector nozzles and into the combustion chambers. The fuel injector nozzles on a diesel engine are the critical components. The injector passageways that the fuel passes through are barely a few thousandths of an inch in diameter, very easy to plug should any contaminants get past the filters.

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Any contamination at all, be it the dead microorganisms, or a sludge created by enzymes breaking the organisms down will plug these critical ports, shutting off all fuel to the engine. Hence the fuel filters. Nothing must be allowed past the filters and into the injectors except clear and bright diesel fuel.

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Getting back to the question of the enzymes, do they remove the impurities or just change their state? I think you would agree that whatever the enzymes accomplish, returning the fuel to its original pristine state is not one of the benefits. Therefore it is incumbent upon the fuel filters to remove the contaminants before they can plug the injectors and shut down the engine. Knowing that you want only clear and bright fuel to pass the injectors, what function do the enzymes really serve?

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The reality is there are only two sure fire methods for removing fuel contaminants, cleaning the tank, and quality fuel filters. Fuel polishing while expensive only filters out suspended contaminants and will not dislodge any longstanding precipitate stuck to the bottom of the tank. True, it would work for a recent contamination in a otherwise clean tank, but usually it only temporarily alleviates the problem until you hit rough seas.

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Getting back to the Startron product, I note that it costs about 50 percent more than most of the other biocides. Are you getting your money's worth if the resulting byproduct of the enzymes must still be filtered from the fuel before it reaches the fuel pump and injectors? Remember, the fuel needs to be clear and bright when it reaches the pump.

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You did exactly the right thing by cleaning out the fuel tank, the advice was spot on. With a clean fuel tank and faithful application of the biocide, you should never have to have the tank cleaned again. But beware, it is possible to pick up contaminated fuel at a fuel dock so always treat any new fuel with biocide after you've added it to your tank, and never overadd more biocide than is called for as it could cause crystalization in the fuel and plug the injectors that way.

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As to the StarBrite Company, I've discovered that they are a repackaging business. They are not a chemcal manufacturer. I assume that you insist on using Chevron Delo 400 oil to lubricate your expensive diesel engine and would never settle for 'Fred's Engine Oil' or any other 'boutique' brand. You'd want to know what you're getting and where it came from. Who better than the manufacturer who markets its products under their own name?

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Sincerely,

Steve

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3WS51n7drQ

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Comment by LOLA on October 18, 2010 at 10:15pm
Thanks Steve

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