Bugs Bugs and more Bugs

Written by Rodney Carter

As if there was not enough going on within this industry at this moment in time we have to contend with this rapidly increasing problem of bacterial growth within storage tanks. With the increasing number of enquires regarding clogging of fuel pumps filters and the seriousness of this phenomeum which is going to be such an important part of operating a filling station for the foreseeable future.

For those that have not come across this situation on their forecourt have been lucky but it could hit at any time. With the changing specification of product to meet legislation dead lines there are now circumstances that will produce growth within the storage tank farm with either product petrol or diesel.

The control and management of this growth will dictate the inconvenience as well as the damage that can be caused to a storage tank?

What are these bugs and how do they get into the tank.

  • Delivered by the tanker
  • Via the vent pipe
  • From within the tank
  • Contaminated stock being delivered to the site is a possibility depending on the supplier storage facilities

Air drawn in via the venting system containing spores formed and bred within the storage tank between the interface of the fuel and water level.

There are some sites that will be at higher risk than others but the main cause of these bugs is water either in the delivered product, leakage into the tank via fittings and connections plus heavy condensation.

Here are some answers that might give a better a better understanding.

Micro-organisms (Bugs)

Those that are found in petrol are Cladosporium resinae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa and some are blessed with spectacular rates of growth of 100% in less than 30 min.

Their activity

They survive in the interface between the product and water feeding of the hyrocarbons. They are dark and have a fluffy gel like appearance. Waste that they secret produces water, sludge and acidic products. There is also the consumption of rubber gaskets, seals hoses and coatings for their mineral contents.

The tell tell signs

Slow running pumps, clogged filters and smell of sulphur.

The importance of control

As already mention the main cause of this problem is water and regular inspection or a water indicator built into gauges. This may not be enough but by taking action as soon as possible may reduce the risks of tank damage due to corrosion from their acid waste.

What about the Diesel Bug

The Diesel Bug tends to come in two main forms, sludge or insoluble organic particles:


Sludge is the more common form being experienced at present. This is caused by over 100 different types of bugs that can live in water as well as the diesel fuel itself. The food of the diesel bugs are supplied by the hydrocarbons in the fossil fuel based diesel, or the nutrients in the bio-diesel. While the respiratory or breathing needs of the bug are ascertained from the dissolved oxygen within the diesel fuel, or in the most cases, the water that has naturally accumulated within the fuel tank.

Insoluble Organic Particles

These are otherwise known as Asphaltenes, which come from the natural chemical process in diesel fuel as it ages over time. The asphaltene molecules will tend to precipitate out of the ageing of the fuel (old fuel which has been standing) and will settle in the bottom of the tank.

Tell Tale Signs

If you are unfortunate to have fuel tanks which suffer from a form of diesel bug the tell tale signs are fairly obvious:

Slow diesel pump dispensing compared to normal Fuel pump “spitback”where the pump stops dispensing despite pulling the trigger, fuel will then spit out under pressure as the diesel bug momentarily clears from the filters and allows the flow Fuel pump filters having to be cleaned on a regular basis.

Any of the above unfortunately means the tank will probably have diesel bug contamination. This contamination will carry on developing and the problem will get worse unless treated.

How do I prevent the Diesel Bug from forming?

The only way to prevent the diesel bug from existing is to eradicate water within the tank. Water is the key form of life for any living thing, including the diesel bug.

How do I clean a Contaminated Tank?

Manually. This operation as you would expect is a very time consuming and costly job. In most cases the forecourt would have to be closed down for a lengthy period of time seriously affecting the income the forecourt operation generates.

The cost of cleaning the tank alone is normally in excess of £1,500 per tank and can take depending on the location of the tank can take a number of days to clean. However the tank can soon become contaminated again if water ingress occurs.

Is there a more simple and cost effective method?

Yes – Bio Klenz Bio Klenz is a detergent based additive, which eradicates the diesel bug.

Bio Klenz is simply poured into the tank, ideally directly into the tank with a fresh supply of fuel and it then goes to work. Subsequent doses via off set fills.

What Does It Do?

Bio Klenz completely absorbs any water within the tank.

With the water now eradicated the diesel bug suffocates, and the total fuel/diesel mixture then goes to work attacking and dissolving the bug.

Bio Klenz being detergent based it has no detrimental effect what so ever to the quality of fuel being used.


  • Maintenance dosage: 1 :1000
  • Severe contamination: 1 :500
  • For sites that are caught with this problem we propose to create strategic storeage around the country so as to enable stricken sites to get up and running as soon as possible.

Technical Specification:

  • Non – Flammable
  • Non – Corrosive
  • Non-Toxic
  • Biodegradable
  • Bio Klenz is PH neutral, contains no petroleum hydrocarbons, sulphur, phosphorous, nitrogen or metallic components.

Leave a Comment