Wilhelmsen pinpoints condition monitoring as key to combating stability issues with new low sulphur fuels
The 1st of January 2020, the date when the permissible level of sulphur in fuel is lowered from 3.5% down to 0.5%, is fast approaching.
To meet demand, in addition to low sulphur distillates, the fuel market will also include a number of new hybrid and blended fuels.
Fresh on the market, it will become essential to understand just how these new fuels will impact fuel systems and engines. However, typical challenges associated with such hybrid and blended fuels revolves around stability, compatibility, catalytic fines, lowered lubricity, or sludge build up.
Ranging from a persistent inconvenience for the engine room to a major situation, fuel issues can cause excessive wear and tear to your engines, reduce combustion, and in the worst cases even cause a loss of power.
Test and treat onboard
Jonas Östlund, Product Marketing Manager, Oil Solutions, Wilhelmsen Ships Service, believes that regular fuel testing 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 and then immediately treat the problem areas with the right additive, to ensure that fuels remain stable throughout storage.
Östlund adds, “Regular testing is key to reducing the risks inherent with such fuels, as 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, but in just ten minutes will provide a quick indication of the fuel stability, showing how easily or quickly the fuel falls apart and the likelihood it will produce large amounts of sludge.