Dirty fuel causes DRUPS failures

How reliable is your DRUPS unit?

Organisations such as data centres, hospitals, banks and military bases depend on reliable and consistent power. Typically these organisations count on secondary generators should the mains supply fail. However, organisations are often unaware how often these back-up generators are actually used. Voltage fluctuations from the mains supply are common and can trigger automatic reset responses in sensitive electronic equipment.

To manage this fluctuation and avoid system downtime an organisation will use a series of cascading diesel rotary uninterruptible power supply (DRUPS) units. These diesel-fueled generators manage the variation of electricity to maintain a constant flow of power. The result is that the DRUPS unit can be called on multiple times per day to protect on site equipment such as data servers.

DRUPS failures are expensive

Organisations who fail to maintain their equipment could experience system downtime due to a DRUPS failure. This can be both costly and damaging to their reputation. The Aberdeen Group report on “Disaster Avoidance and Disaster Recovery: Making your Datacenter Disaster Resilient” states that organisations lose an average of £80,000 for every hour a data centre is down. It’s therefore vital that the DRUPS unit works every time.

What causes a DRUPS failure?

A likely cause of a DRUPS failure is dirty diesel.

Typically a system will have enough fuel to power the load for hours or days in the event of mains power problems. Do many organisations realise that their fuel has a limited shelf life?

In 2011 biodiesel was introduced to improve the environmental impact of using diesel but this also introduced a limited shelf life. If stored under normal conditions it can be expected to stay in a useable condition for 6-12 months. As it gets older it will suffer from contamination, including:

  • Microbial growth (a.k.a. the ‘diesel bug’).
  • Water contamination.
  • Solid particulate contamination.

Depending on the type and severity of the contamination this can clog filters, damage engine injectors or cause the total failure of the generator, pump or engine it is meant to power.

Prevention is always better than a cure for clean fuel

The key to maintaining fuel quality is good housekeeping. IPU recommend that organisations employ a regular fuel conditioning programme to ensure that diesel-powered equipment runs reliably and economically.

IPU Fuel Conditioning Programme

The most efficient way to introduce this conditioning programme is to talk to us at IPU. We offer a cost-effective programme that can maintain your fuel and ensures it is kept clean and ready to support you. The stages include:

  1. Fuel Testing
  2. Fuel Cleaning
  3. Fuel Polishing

While there are many companies who can help with one part of the process, IPU is in the unique position of being able to provide all four stages from a single source. This gives us better visibility of the problem, lets us solve it more effectively and means you only have to deal with a single ‘one-stop’ provider.

If you do nothing else this month, test your fuel. It’s the low-cost and prudent first step.