How to comply with new low sulphur fuels in 2020

“Analyzing fuels and understanding fuel performance through condition monitoring is critical and is quite simply the best way to avoid costly damages and engine failures.”
The 1 January 2020 deadline is fast approaching for sulphur in fuel to lower from 3.5% to 0.5%.
To meet demand, in addition to low sulphur distillates, there is a number of new hybrid and blended fuels.
Fresh on the market, it is essential to understand just how these new fuels will impact fuel systems and engines. However, there are typical challenges for such hybrid and blended fuels.  They revolve around stability, compatibility, catalytic fines, lowered lubricity, or sludge build up.
Fuel issues can cause excessive wear and tear to engines, reduce combustion, and even a loss of power.  These issues range from a persistent inconvenience for the engine room to a major situation.

Test and treat onboard

Jonas Östlund, product marketing manager, Oil Solutions, Wilhelmsen Ships Service, believes that regular fuel testing is essential.  Certainly, it allows crews to gain a better understanding of the fuel quality, and a clear picture of the severity of the fuel issues they face.
He says, “Analyzing fuels and understanding fuel performance through condition monitoring is critical and is quite simply the best way to avoid costly damages and engine failures.”
When the global fleet is regularly operating on 0.5% sulphur heavy oil, and its lighter or blended grades, after 2020, Östlund believes stability and compatibility will be the biggest risk factor.
“Instability in fuel, if unrecognized and unchecked, can cause severe problems such as sludging of the fuel tanks, filter blockages and excessive sludging of the purifier”.
Wilhelmsen’s easy-to-use stability test kit is specifically designed to resolve such problems. Crews can quickly test the fuel for stability onboard.  Thereafter, they can immediately treat the problem areas with the right additive.  This is to ensure that fuels remain stable throughout storage.
Östlund adds that regular testing is key to reducing the risks inherent with such fuels.  This is because it allows the crew on board to understand the changing stability of the fuel whilst in storage on board the ship.
Part of their tailor-made low sulphur fuel treatment range, the Unitor Fuel Oil Stability Test Kit provides a stability number in accordance with ASTM D7160. It is a simplified version of the ASTM test.  However, in just ten minutes, it will provide a quick indication of the fuel stability.  Also, it shows how easily or quickly the fuel falls apart.
Moreover, it also shows the likelihood it will produce large amounts of sludge.

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