The Interislander Arahura ferry is conducting trials of a Fuel Oil Emulsion (FOE) system in one of the auxiliary engines of the vessel.

The Arahura is going to test a watered down version of diesel fuel, with Blended Fuel Solutions NZ Ltd. (BFSNZ) being its supplier for the occasion.

The technology in question enables for diesel-oil coated water droplets to be converted into steam through a process of blowing apart, resulting in the creation of small fuel particles that demonstrate a more efficient level of burning. The mixing of water and oil is carried out with the help of an additive blended into the fuel along with water.

“Current results seem to point to the conclusion that it could not only contribute for reducing fuel consumption and emission levels but also provide for a significant cut in the costs department,” commented Malcom Sims, the project’s head engineer.

The current trial comes following a two-day trial carried out back in 2013, and is to be conducted during the following 3 months.

“The displayed results demonstrated a reduced level of both fuel consumption and amounts of emissions, thus leading to this current and far more thorough operational trial,” Sims elaborated.

The parties involved in the project are also exploring means of other alternative fuels like biofuels, but none of the proposed alternatives are on the FOE technology’s commercial advancement level.

“Given the fact that the Arahura is going to retire at the end of July, this year, we have a safe, established and reliable platform via which we can carry out operational test procedures in a fully controlled manner.”


Photo: Theo Van Loon

“Now, Interislander is going to go through some careful analysis of the collected data with the help and guidance of our respective partners. While it is still too early to say, the demonstrated potential of the technology makes it highly probable for it to be integrated aboard our vessels,” Sims says.

All trial operations have received the support of EECA under the stipulations of a Technology Demonstration Project grant.

“KiwiRail/Interislander are among the biggest liquid fuel users out there so it is only natural that they are inquiring about technologies of this type,” as commented by Blended Fuel Solutions NZ’s Managing Director, Leigh Ramsey.

“Due to the blend equipment’s introduction, Interislander is going to have the opportunity to test out other kinds of alternative fuel.”