Diesel fuel: summer, winter, arctic

April  7,  2011

Qualitative diesel fuel is the basic type of fuel for engines not only in agriculture but also in industry. The main disadvantage of operation of automobiles with diesel engine is the necessity to change summer fuel into winter in the off-season time. Winter types of diesel fuel enable to operate the automobile at frosts up to  -30 °С. Arctic diesel fuel that maintain its characteristics at a temperature up to -50 °С is used in the regions of the Far North.

Differences of summer and winter diesel fuels

In accordance with GOST 305-82 there three brands of diesel fuel:

  • Brand "L". This fuel is mainly used in summer, the environmental temperature must exceed 0 degrees. Sulfur content in it – not more 0,2%.
  • Brand "Z". It’s winter fuel, at setting point < -35 degrees and p < -25 degrees it can withstand temperature up to minus 20 degrees, and setting point < -45 degrees and p < -35 degrees it can be used at air temperature up to minus 30 degrees. Sulfur content is 0,5 %.
  • Brand "А" is an arctic fuel. It’s usage temperature is up to minus 50 degrees. Sulfur content is 0,4 %. Diesel fuel brand "А" is marked as А-0,2.

Theoretically one can distinguish summer fuel from winter by color, but this difference is not so noticeable in practice. According to GOST 305-82 summer and winter fuels differ mainly in kinematic viscosity (it is lower for winter fuel) because of different fraction compositions.

Properties of winter and arctic fuels

Winter diesel fuel is good for use on the greater part of Russia territory. There is more than enough lubricating properties of winter diesel fuel for normal operation of fuel system.

Diesel fuel brand DZP-0,2 is used at a temperature  range up to -15°С, because it stops filtration at temperatures below this mark. It is produced  on the basis of summer fuel with addition of depressants that reduce temperature limit of filterability .    

Diesel fuel type ЕN 590 is also intended for use at a temperature not lower -15°С. This fuel conforms to international standard, contains little amount of sulfur and aromatic hydrocarbons, thereby emission of harmful substances into the atmosphere is reduced.

Diesel fuel brand DZP -15/-25 is used at a temperature not lower -25°С. There is also fuel that is used at a temperature up to -30°С and up to -35°С.

A special brand of diesel fuel is used in the north regions – arctic diesel fuel that does not set at a temperature up to -50°С and has low kinematic viscosity.

Arctic diesel fuel has cut points from180°С to 330°С. Setting temperature is not above minus 55°С, its usage is possible at air temperature above minus 50°С. Sulfur content is not more 0.2%. Kinematic viscosity at 20°С can change from 1.5 to 4 centistokes. Flash point in the closed cup for А-0.2 of fuel that is intended for use in slow-speed and average-speed railway and marine diesels is not below +35°С, for automotive diesels is not below +30°С. А-0.2 can not contain more than 0.01 of sour sulfur.

Of course, it is possible to fill up any engine with arctic fuel in winter and it will operate but what’s the use of overpaying the cost of arctic fuel if ordinary winter fuel can cope with weather conditions? Moreover, the price for winter diesel fuel is lower than for arctic diesel fuel.

Why one cannot use summer diesel fuel the whole year round?

Notwithstanding that the wholesale price for winter diesel fuel is higher than for summer diesel fuel, it is not worth economizing and using summer fuel in winter even if you live in the region where temperature is rarely below zero. In Russia diesel fuel is produced with high content of sulfur and paraffin. It practically does not influence the work of engines in summer, but when temperature is reduced summer diesel fuel sets and starting of engine becomes difficult as a consequence of paraffin crystals deposition. There is practice of fuel sedimentation, addition of different components that increase its characteristics for purifying and removal of impurities that have negative influence on the operation of engine. 

 Summer fuel must not be used in cold season because it freezes at air temperature below -10°С, ice chokes are formed in fuel lines that consequently lead to engine stop.

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