A Matter of Time: Factors that Add Up to Time Savings with Natural Gas Generators
On-site backup power technology has become a top priority for many organizations. Now more than ever, the maintenance of these backup power systems is also a top priority when it comes to the scarce availability of human time. A generator manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for any generator, be it diesel or natural gas-fueled, will be similar. However, there are aspects of maintaining a diesel-fueled generator set that are more time-consuming that a comparable gaseous-fueled unit.
The fuel system factor. A diesel generator’s fuel system is where time is invested the most throughout the life of the unit. This is because regular fuel maintenance is the key to diesel generator reliability. Clean fuel determines engine performance, which in turn affects emergency power dependability. This is a big deal. Diesel fuel degradation is normal and unavoidable, but it is also accelerated by factors like temperature, storage, pressure, condensation and bacterial contamination. Dirty fuel and sludge buildup in the diesel fuel tank can lead to clogged filters, which are common reasons for downtime.
A natural gas fuel system saves time by not requiring the extensive, hands-on attention that a diesel fuel and its storage system will require for the maintenance team.
The general operation factor. For any modern engine to operate efficiency, it needs to have the ideal air-to-fuel mixture and must be able to sustain the ideal running temperature for a complete fuel burn. Diesel engines are built to work hard and get hot. A diesel engine that is not required to deliver at least 30% of its rated horsepower will have difficulty attaining an optimal operating temperature. “Wet stacking” is a phenomenon that occurs when unburned diesel fuel builds up within the exhaust side of the engine, which fouls fuel injectors and builds carbon on valves and within the turbocharger. This occurs when the diesel generator is consistently operated on a light load, which means an engine that experiences wet stacking will require considerably more maintenance than an engine that is adequately or properly loaded. Wet stacking is often addressed by connecting the generator to a load bank, which forces the generator to operate a full load and burn off the accumulated build-up. Wet stacking is not an issue in natural gas-powered generator systems.
A well-designed and well-maintained standby power system is the best defense against a power outage. However, upkeep to the system still needs to be implemented – and that takes time. Generator maintenance programs shouldn’t be overlooked and it’s important to understand the extra human effort needed to keep a diesel generator operating at peak condition compared to a gaseous-fueled unit.
« Back to Natural Gas Performance page