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I have read a few ISO standards for performing the so-called 'burst pressure' test in which a filter or an element of one is tested to failure. I am curious whether such a failure can occur under normal fuel line pressures (e.g. after filter clogging). To break down:

  • What is a typical fuel line pressure?
  • Can a blocked/clogged filter 'burst' under such pressure?
  • If not, what is the worst that could happen?
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Generally speaking the filter is on the low pressure side of the system. That low pressure is either supplied by an in tank lift pump or a low pressure lift pump (usually integrated into the high pressure pump) sucks it from the tank. In 15 years working with an assortment of vehicle, generator, marine diesel engines I've never seen one burst a fuel filter. On automotive use the lift pumps operate at around 5 - 10 psi and flow around a gallon per minute. Worst that could happen in the event of a blocked filter would be the engine stopping, possibly some fuel leaks and you might get the lift pump hot or even cause it to fail if left long enough pumping against a blockage. On some designs the fuel return line from the high pressure pump sometimes goes back into the fuel filter head (to heat the incoming fuel by bleeding a little of the returning hot high pressure fuel back into the cold incoming fuel) before going back to the tank. I'd guess that an internal fault on the high pressure pump fuel return might cause a fuel filter to burst...? Never seen it personally though.

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Without knowing what fuel system this question originates on, your first point cant be addressed because there are a variety of different types.

For points two and three:

A blocked/clogged filter will essentially create a pressure drop in the down stream pipe. The pressure in the pipe under blockage conditions will be based on how the fuel is being delivered. If its under a gravity flow scenario then you could perform some simple calculations to determine the pressure head of the pipe.

If its being pumped the pump curve will give you a likely maximum pressure that could be present in the pipe. If this pressure is not higher than the ISO test parameters no damage will occur.

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  • $\begingroup$ The system in question is a diesel engine. I know that these engines generally operate at higher pressures and hence the second question. By 'maximum pressure that could be present in the pipe' you mean the maximum pressure the pump is capable of, or something else? Thanks for answering. $\endgroup$ – Peter Hristov Sep 22 '16 at 8:59

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