ECA's and ISO8217-2010
1% sulfur and ISO8217-2010 are approaching rapidly. What can we expect and how can we cope?
Sulfur limits are no longer part of the specifications for both distillates and residuals! It is the operators responsibility to "specify" the limits required for it's particular routes in bunker purchase requisitions and the suppliers responsibility to "supply" fuel in accordance with the specification within reproducible limits along with proper documentation in the form of a "complete and properly executed bunker delivery note". Analysis of both distillates and residuals cannot be over emphasized as an important tool in proper operations as well as maintaining documentation for regulatory verification.
Reduced sulfur levels in distillate fuels have raised the question of problems with respect to lubricity. This has been addressed in land based applications through the addition of additives. Hopefully suppliers will follow suit and apply this practice to marine fuels as well however, the inclusion of these is not directly addressed in ISO8217-2010. What can an operator do to prepare for this? With regards to new builds a comprehensive dosing system should be specified in the fuel handling system to include dosing points in the bunker stream, service and settling tanks and at the engine inlet. Thought should be given immediately to the retrofit of existing ships as well. This can benefit both the distillate and residual fuel systems when the need for enhancements are called for. While I have jokingly referred to these products in the past as "mechanics in a can" they do have merit in many applications. The debate point arises when the process of selection and deployment of these products begins. Much like a prescription from your doctor these products must be prescribed and used in strict accordance with the manufacturers recommendations. Prior to their use an operator must confirm with their appropriate engine builder that their use will have no implications with regards to warranty issues. This might be a bit of a challenge as it is unlikely you will find an OEM that will endorse any specific product or it's performance claims. In any event you may find them to be quite effective and key points to keep in mind is that "MORE is not often better" with regards to dosage and the proper point of application is critical to ensure optimum results.
Viscosity of distillates as well as proper changeover at arrival into ECA's and maneuvering situations are concerns which have been discussed in previous posts. This is critical to ensure both the longevity of the injection system as well as marine safety. Maintaining viscosity "may" require the addition of a fuel cooling element in the booster system to maintain distillate viscosity above 2cst as well as distillate compatible booster pumps. The physical aspects of change over can only be accomplished through proper training and prudent operational techniques of which any competent marine engineer should be familiar. One OEM for example MAN B&W has developed the "DieselSwitch" system to further attempt to reduce the issues involved with change over.
With regards to the 1% sulfur limit for residuals imposed in some ECA's one can expect instances of deteriorating fuel quality as suppliers reach out for less expensive alternatives to distillate fuel for blending to sulfur limits. This will only reinforce the importance of proper fuel oil handling and treatment. Today's engineers are sometimes complacent with regards to fuel oil handling until a problematic fuel is encountered. The best defense in this case? The fuel handling and treatment system should always be operated to it's optimum performance aka "minimum throughput consistent with demand and constant inlet temperature at the separator inlet". Careful thought should be given to "oversizing" of the separator plant when developing specs for new builds as well during upgrades of existing vessels. Due to the high cost of these components you will often find them spec'd to their maximum capacity in "stock design" offerings thereby leaving little margin when a truly problematic fuel is encountered such as excessive cat fines (Al+Si).
While not addressed in ISO thought should be given to the inclusion of emulsification and homogenization systems in both new builds and retrofits. They offer both incentives in the form of increased fuel efficiency as well as reductions in NOx and particulate matter is diesel exhaust.
And now for the punch line! The performance of additives, fuel conditioning equipment and exhaust after treatment can only be objectively confirmed in an "independent, not for profit" facility hence my hopes of one day seeing an advanced marine fuels and emissions research and educational facility.
Photo courtesy of Lemag GmbH