Water is one of the most common contaminants in a hydrocarbon fluid system and one of the most damaging. When water contaminates a system, it can cause serious problems such as:
- Causing engine stall
- Enhancing bacterial growth
- Disturbing production processes
- Removing additives
- Corroding by etching metal
- Reducing conductivity
- Enhances abrasive wear in hydraulic components
Free water is usually seen as a cloudy appearance of the fuel or oil, or as puddles of water at the bottom of the reservoir. Water, which is absorbed into the fuel or oil, is called dissolved water. At higher temperatures, fuel and oil have the ability to hold more water in the dissolved stage due to the expansion of the hydrocarbon molecules. As the temperature drops, this ability reverses and free water will appear where not visible before. The saturation point for your system is dependent on the type of fuel or oil and the temperature.
Typical sources of water contamination are the production process, transport (emptying of piping and cleaning of tanks), the changes in temperature due to the weather, tank breathing, rainwater intrusion and leakage from for example steam.