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What You Need to Know About Emerging Fuels and Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

Creative abstract ecology, alternative sustainable energy and environment protection saving business concept: 3D render illustration of the group of green stacked metal biofuel drums or biodiesel barrels in the industrial storage warehouse with selective focus effect

In recent years, as the push toward more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources has grown, the variety of emerging fuels has seen a significant rise. As underground storage tanks (USTs) are key components in the distribution and storage of these fuels, it’s crucial to understand how they interact. Below is a summary of information provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the interplay between emerging fuels and USTs. For help with UST installation, removal, lining and coating, compliance testing, or related issues, contact Lutz Petroleum (Florida) or Herbert Lutz Co., Inc. (New Jersey) for helpful advice and quality service from experienced UST professionals.

Emerging Fuels and Their Evolution

Emerging fuels, primarily biofuels, have gained popularity because they can be produced domestically, reducing dependence on foreign oil, and often come with a reduced carbon footprint. Examples include ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable diesel fuels. As the composition and blend levels of these fuels change, so do their chemical and physical properties, which may impact how they interact with USTs.

Compatibility of UST Systems with Emerging Fuels

One of the primary concerns of introducing new fuels is compatibility. For a UST system to be compatible with a stored substance, the materials used in the UST (including the tank, piping, containment sumps, etc.) must be able to hold the substance without failure.

  • Ethanol: UST systems have historically been designed to handle up to 10% ethanol (E10). However, newer ethanol blends, like E15 (15% ethanol) or higher, present compatibility challenges. This higher ethanol content can cause swelling, softening, or even degradation of certain UST system materials.
  • Biodiesel: While many UST systems might be compatible with low percentages of biodiesel, higher concentrations might be problematic. As with ethanol, the material integrity can be compromised, leading to potential leaks or failures.

To ensure compatibility:

  • UST owners and operators should always check with equipment manufacturers regarding compatibility before storing or dispensing new fuels.
  • Regular inspections and maintenance schedules should be followed rigorously.

Regulations and Guidelines

The EPA provides guidelines for ensuring that USTs are compatible with the substances they store. Some key considerations include:

  • Before storing new fuels or changing the blend levels in an existing UST, the owner or operator should demonstrate compatibility.
  • Compatibility can be ensured by using equipment that is certified or listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory for use with the fuel stored.
  • Owners and operators can also use another method approved by the implementing agency.

Implications for UST Installation and Removal

When installing and removing USTs, using a company that stays updated with the evolving landscape of emerging fuels is imperative. For instance, Lutz Petroleum and Herbert Lutz Co., Inc., ensures the following practices:

  • When installing new USTs, we advise clients to consider the potential for changing fuel blends in the future. Investing in tanks that can handle a variety of fuels could prove beneficial in the long run.
  • When removing or replacing USTs, we take care to be aware of the type and blend of fuel that was stored. This knowledge will aid in ensuring safe removal procedures and effective contamination assessments, if necessary.

Storing Emerging Fuels in New Jersey or Florida? Get Expert Assistance From Lutz

The world of emerging fuels is dynamic, reflecting society’s push for greener energy options. While this brings great opportunity, it also necessitates that UST installers, owners, and operators remain vigilant and informed about compatibility and safety issues. By staying ahead of the curve and following the guidelines set by regulatory bodies like the EPA, we can ensure that UST systems continue to play a vital role in the energy landscape of the future.

For help with UST installation, removal, and related issues in New Jersey or Florida, contact Herbert Lutz Co., Inc. at 908-862-8888 or Lutz Petroleum at 954-971-5222.

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