Although the Underground Storage Tank Management Division has begun the use of the Alternative Fuel Installation Application/Conversion Notification (pdf) checklist, compatibility between alternative fuels and typical UST system components continues to be an issue. Our support for the industry includes making sure that the proper safeguards are in place so that the positive environmental contributions of renewable fuels are not negated by using equipment that may not be compatible. Without the use of compatible equipment, your UST system could degrade and a release could occur. Components and equipment used in conventional fuel systems are time-tested for compatibility and are readily available.
Ethanol-blended fuels do not have the same characteristics as conventional fuels. For example, soft metals such as aluminum (commonly found in conventional systems) are not compatible. Some materials such as polyurethane, adhesives (used in older fiberglass tanks and piping), and certain polymers may not be compatible. Leak detection equipment, such as automatic tank gauge probes, need to be alcohol compatible and the tank gauge system must be properly calibrated for ethanol. There are also numerous issues with internal linings, ranging from what is or is not known about the lining material to existing cracks and abrasions in the lining wall.Guidance on Compatibility of UST Systems can be found here.
Effective May 26, 2017 Owners and operators must notify the Department at least 30 days prior to switching to a regulated substance containing greater than 10 percent ethanol, greater than 20 percent biodiesel, or any other regulated substance identified by the Department. In addition, owner and operators with UST systems storing these regulated substances must demonstrate compatibility of the UST system (including the tank, piping, containment sumps, pumping equipment, release detection equipment, spill equipment, and overfill equipment).
Whether converting an older tank or installing a new tank system for use with ethanol-blended fuels, you must use the following procedures:
Ultimately, the equipment and components must be compatible with the alternative fuels that you intend to use. The following is a list of equipment that must have an appropriate alternative fuel model in place:
Blends of biodiesel greater than B20, may cause issues with rubber components. The same procedures should be followed for the submittal of the Alternative Fuel Installation Application/Conversion Notification (pdf) Checklist for biodiesel fuels.
It is the tank owner’s responsibility to ensure that all procedures are followed in order to minimize the potential for a release to occur due to incompatible equipment. If in doubt, contact the Division prior to introducing ethanol-blended fuels into a tank system.