Currently, there is a draft ISO 8217 2016 marine fuel quality standard under review which could have a significant impact on operations. Being an expert in Condition Monitoring technology, Parker Kittiwake explains how operators may save the cost of damage from cat fines.
Earlier this year it was released and circulated for comments from the fuel users of the shipping industry, and should the proposed changes take effect, the new standard will result in a higher tolerance level for the concentration of harmful and abrasive particles. This includes harmful and highly abrasive particles such as catalytic fines, or cat fines, leading to a significantly higher likelihood of failures and breakdowns.
In less than a decade – and possibly as little as four years – the global cap on sulphur will be lowered from fuel with a maximum of 3.50 to 0.50%, and current expectations are that distillate fuel will be the compliance solution of choice. The use of distillate fuel increases the likelihood of the ingress of cat fines, and so the risk of catastrophic damage and unplanned downtime becomes significant.
Replacement of a single cylinder liner can reach one million US dollars
Once a ship has set sail and is far out to sea, significant engine damage may already be taking effect. The replacement of a single cylinder liner damaged by cat fines can be up to 65,000 US dollars for parts alone, and this swiftly increases to more than 1m US dollars once the associated costs of labour and unplanned downtime are also considered.
Parker Kittiwake offers a cat fines test kit which, by using a simple pre-mixed chemical bottle test, identifies the existence of cat fines in a representative sample of fuel oil. The company claims it gives engineers the ability to detect the presence of abrasive components in the fuel oil before it enters the system, and reduces the operational inefficiencies that add cost to carriers; from longer stays at ports, to cylinder replacements, to handling customer complaints.
The cat fines test is simple to perform, cost effective, and can be completed within a few minutes. In fact the test has been specifically designed to provide the crew with a clear sail or don’t sail indication with regards to fuel quality.