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ANALYSIS: Breaking down the barriers to emulsified fuel uptake

Water-in-fuel emulsion is a technology that has been plagued by concerns over the impact potential on marine engines over the last decade or more. This hasn’t been aided by many manufacturers popping up in the market and dropping out again within a matter of years.

Endeavouring to rectify the somewhat tarnished perception of emulsified fuels a Finnish company, Keppel Offshore & Marine’s subsidiary Blue Ocean Solutions (BOS), successfully broke down the domineering barrier to emulsified fuel uptake in the shipping industry by proving that their water-in-fuel emulsion technology actually improves the condition of an engine.  This recent milestone for emulsified fuels may shock some naysayers that believe that water-in-fuel emulsions can cause more damage than good, but the recent testing of BOS Emulsified Fuel System (ESF) that conducted by an independent, well reputed engine diagnostics company gives the proof needed to quash concerns.

The fuel savings potential for the BOS ESF is also significant. BOS state that the performance of 2-5% fuel savings has been proven and verified by ship owners and classification societies DNV GL and Lloyd’s Register. In order to ascertain accurate fuel saving data, the company uses fuel flow meters.  Wärtsilä has also tested the system under the Project Hercules on medium speed engine Wärtsilä 6L20CR operating under Miller cycle with a two stage turbocharger and running on MGO. The tests confirmed improved fuel efficiency with no need for chemical additives. With consistent results, verified by independent classification societies on ships and engine manufacturer on test bed, the BOS ESF has proved that emulsified fuel can bring significant fuel savings adding to the well established NOx reduction, if done correctly. BOS are in fact somewhat of a pioneer of emulsified fuel technology. Dr Jerry Ng KL, the founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Solutions was one of the members of the team that pioneered the application of emulsified fuel technology to motor ships at the University of Newcastle, UK. His R&D work goes back to the early 1980’s.

However, despite the numerous references and consistent test results, BOS has been cautious with public announcements until there have been adequate independent verifications by namely: classification societies, engine manufacturers and ship owners. They believe that it is important that the 2-5% fuel savings, trouble free operation and improved maintenance has to be independently verified. Anything else is hearsay and unproven. That is their firm standpoint.  The number of repeat orders that BOS receives from ship operators is testament to the reputation and proven benefits of the BOS ESF. APL recently placed a repeat order for 10 additional BOS EFS for their 10K TEU container vessels after successful implementation on two of their “I” class containers. The first of the ten additional installations started on July 2015 and all 10 installations are expected to be completed by June 2016. Both “I” class vessels have been operating the EFS with savings of more than 2% successfully and without any problems for than 2 years.  The company also secured a repeat order from Diamond Shipping, one of the largest owner and operator of modern medium range product tankers in the world. They will also be installing 2 BOS EFS units to Carnival P&O cruises in late May/early June this year.  Other BOS customers include Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Townsend Thorensen, London Overseas Freighters, B&I amongst others.

To round off this year, Fathom will be re-posting our top 2016 articles. Keep an eye out for some of our most popular and most-read stories this festive period here at Ship Efficiency Review!

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