Unitor fuel additives
A particular problem with low sulphur residual fuels is the increased severity of the viscosity-breaking process used by petroleum refiners. The blending process can cause severe instability problems which may not be apparent immediately, but which can cause severe problems with asphaltenic sludge in tanks, filters and from the purifier, says Jonas Östlund, product marketing manager, marine chemicals, Wilhelmsen Ships Service.
Quality problems when using distillate fuels are fundamentally different from those of residual fuels and focus around lubricity, storage stability and microbial contamination. In this case, lubricity problems are most likely to happen in the fuels with a lower sulphur content than 0.1%, as will soon be mandatory for use in ECAs.
“The reduction of sulphur is often blamed for the problems of lubricity with modern fuels. This is not entirely true, as the same refining process during which sulphur is removed also removes other natural lubrication components. This means that fuels with similar sulphur levels can have different lubrication properties, and sulphur level is not always a safe indicator for lubricity properties of a fuel, ” says Mr Östlund.
Most distillate fuels are vulnerable to degradation that can cause colour change, gum and sediment formation. These can have a severe effect on quality during long term storage and can also induce corrosion. “What is not widely known is that distillate fuel is treated by the refinery with a stabiliser to protect it against deterioration for six months, ” says Mr Östlund. “When these six months are elapsed, the fuel is more or less unprotected from further deterioration. Owners should consider carefully the addition of a multi-function fuel stabiliser during bunkering which will add protection against oxidation, sedimentation, colour change and corrosion.”
There is a clear need for regular testing and treatment to ensure that maximum value can be extracted from the fuel, he says. Testing is the first step in beginning a treatment process when problems are suspected, and it is important that potential problems are detected early and steps taken to avoid the time and cost of later remedial action. “Many of the problems encountered on board ship are not related to operation of the engines, but to the fuels used. This clearly underlines the need for fuel treatment to be integrated into the vessel’s maintenance schedules.”
Building on 30 years’ of experience, Wilhelmsen Ships Service’s Unitor FuelPower range applies advanced technologies to make certain today’s fuels can be used with confidence, regardless of fuel stability or slow steaming, says Mr Ostlund. The range for use with residual fuels includes FuelPower Demulsifier, an updated demulsifier designed to cope with high water levels in oil emulsions, FuelPower Conditioner, a new treatment for unstable and incompatible fuels which improves fuel reliability and FuelPower SlowSteam, a low dosage combustion enhancer and stabiliser. The new product range, known as Unitor DieselPower, has been specifically developed for distillates, keeping them bright, stable and trouble-free, with fewer problems resulting in lower costs in operation.
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