Natural Factors that Affect Diesel Generator Function.
Ambient conditions of temperature are extremely crucial for proper ignition and functioning of a diesel generator.
1. Altitude: In areas of high altitude, air pressure drops reducing the air density. This can create problems with generator startup if not accounted for since air is crucial for ignition in any type of generator.
Another factor that gets affected is the availability of ambient air to facilitate heat dissipation from the generator. A lot of heat is created during the combustion process and needs to be dissipated into the environment to reduce engine temperature.
At high altitudes, due to the low air density, heat dissipation occurs at a much slower rate than it would at sea levels, resulting in high engine temperatures for a sustained period of time. The engine stays hot and overheating is a typical issue in such cases.
- Temperature: High temperatures are also associated with lower air density and can cause similar ignition problems due to an inadequate air supply.
- Humidity: Humidity is the measure of water content in a given volume of air. In conditions of extreme humidity, water vapor in the air displaces oxygen. Low oxygen levels impair ignition since oxygen is the element in the air.
At low temperatures, along with inadequate oxygen levels, which cause problems in start-up, another common problem that occurs is the gelling of diesel fuel. Low temperatures cause diesel to gel, altering the flow characteristics of the fuel.
This gelling is attributed to the paraffin content in diesel. Some diesel types, such as low sulfur diesel, have higher paraffin content than others. At low temperatures, paraffin crystallizes and clogs the fuel filters.
When the fuel filters get clogged, additional fuel cannot enter the combustion chamber with ease and the air to fuel proportion changes prompting deficient burning. In such conditions, the generator engine may fail to start.
In order to avoid gelling, two methods are generally used: a) winterizing of fuels and b) adding anti-gelling additives to the fuel.
Winterizing is a process where commercial grade fuel is mixed with more refined fuel in predetermined ratios to decrease the overall paraffin content of the fuel.
This is generally done at distributing agencies before the fuel is delivered to gas stations. Different geographic regions have different mixing ratios depending on temperature conditions.
In an area of very low temperature, or in a case where the diesel fuel has more paraffin content, higher levels of refined diesel are present in the mixture.
Anti-gelling agents prevent the gelling of diesel. They alter the chemical qualities of the fuel so as to prevent paraffin crystallization and prevent diesel from gelling.
It is recommended that the anti-gelling agents be added to the fuel tank before filling up the tank. These additives also have to be mixed properly in the stated ratios. If your fuel filters are already clogged, variants of anti-gelling additives are available that de-clog the filters and prevent further clogging.