Best practices in fuel filtering

The GAfuels Blog is written by two private pilots concerned about the future availability of fuels for piston-engine aircraft: Dean Billing, Sisters, Ore., an expert on autogas and ethanol, and Kent Misegades, Cary, N.C., an aerospace engineer, aviation sales rep for U-Fuel, and president of EAA1114.

Ben Visser recently made some good suggestions when refueling in the bush with non-aviation grade fuel containers, filters and dispensers. We thought it might be interesting to review the state-of-the-art in filtering, as practiced by U-Fuel, the pioneers in self-service fuel stations. Mike Webb, founder and CEO of U-Fuel in Elk Mound, Wis., sends the following comments.

“Old aviation fuel nozzles came with a 100 mesh screen, based of the assumption that debris could get break off inside the hose and cause a problem. Aviation equipment including hoses have come a long way since World War II.

We recommend 100 mesh strainer on the tank filler and 5 micron plus water absorbing filtration for fuel going into an airplane. For commercial operations, jet fuel technically needs to be filtered twice, which is done from the tank to the truck and from the truck into the plane. Many times they use a screen filter at the nozzle (single-point nozzles have built-in screens) to satisfy the double filtration rule.

Our belief at U-Fuel is that filtration should occur after the pump, closest to the source of pressure and turbulence right before the hose. Remember also that the pump itself has a screen filter. If there is a concern about old hoses, then use a nozzle with screen, and replace the hose since they are relatively inexpensive.

If you really want to impress people, two filters after the pump may be used — a particulate and a water filter. A lot of this has to do with the age and condition of the fuel system you are using as well as your fuel supplier.

The bottom line is to know your fuel system. Inspect it. Sump it. Change filters. Have fuel tested periodically and there should be no problems.”

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