Passage Maker - - Electronics -

Be­cause biodiesel ab­sorbs and re­tains more wa­ter than #2 diesel, and quickly be­come less sta­ble, one should con­tin­u­ously des­ic­cate the fuel—es­pe­cially if it is not go­ing to be used within a few weeks. The eas­i­est way to do this is with a silica gel sys­tem mounted on fuel tank vent lines, like Rich Pin­dell’s H2Out, which Prac­ti­cal Sailor tested and awarded an Editor’s Choice award back in 2013.

In our 15 years of us­ing B99.9, and in the sim­i­lar time pe­riod of NOAA’s re­search and use, nei­ther Su­per­in­ten­dent Don­ahue nor I have ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal en­gine dam­age or per­for­mance prob­lems caused by wa­ter in the fuel. Part of that surely re­sults from us­ing only com­mer­cial, ASTM-tested and cer­ti­fied fuel, and neat B99.9 or even B100 biodiesel fuel. In fact, Don­ahue says that NOAA’s ex­pe­ri­ence has been that wa­ter prob­lems are much more preva­lent with blends, like B20, rather than straight B99.9. He at­tributes much of this to the old age and ne­glected main­te­nance of the na­tion’s pe­tro­leum in­fra­struc­ture, as some of it is nearly a cen­tury old. This kind of use­ful knowl­edge is to ac­quire through NOAA. I hope that NOAA will in­crea­se­ingly pub­li­cize share its ex­ten­sive mul­ti­year B100 re­search and work with all of the marine diesel en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers, govern­ment agen­cies, and com­mer­cial ship­pers to ben­e­fit av­er­age boaters.

Be­yond fuel, mo­tor oil, and trans­mis­sion fluid, I have found that I can eas­ily re­place all of the other pe­tro­leum-based liq­uids that Ama might need with equally good or bet­ter petroleum­free al­ter­na­tives, such as nat­u­rally high-lu­bric­ity canola oil, and farm­ers’ fa­vorite car­bo­hy­drate-based hy­draulic steer­ing fluid. One rare cau­tion, af­ter 5 years of us­ing canola oil as the lu­bri­cant for our Norscot shaft seal, I found some soft­en­ing and had to re­place the en­clos­ing bel­low and shift to a syn­thetic au­to­matic trans­mis­sion fluid.

Over­all, we con­tinue to have a fun, in­ter­est­ing, trou­ble­free ex­pe­ri­ence em­ploy­ing B99.9 and bi­ol­u­bri­cants. This will con­tinue to be our ap­proach un­til hy­dro­gen propul­sion be­comes eas­ier and much more af­ford­able.

A fa­vorite ac­tiv­ity when cruis­ing Kynoch In­let, Fjord­lands, Bri­tish Columbia, is scop­ing the woods for griz­zlies from the rel­a­tive safety of the wa­ter.

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