IMO2020: Will you be burning money as well as fuel?

November 19, 2019

By Douwe Vellinga (Marketing & Sales Director)

Will You Be Burning Money As Well As Fuel After IMO2020?
On January 1st 2020 new IMO regulations come into force. The changes reduce the allowable sulphur limit in marine fuel from 3.5% to 0.5%. For an industry that uses very large amounts of fuel, the changes are a major disruption.

The compliance challenge can be solved with onboard abatement systems or by use of low sulphur fuels. Most ships will need to run on the new fuels. To achieve the low sulphur content most new fuels will be blends. There is no standard for these blends. Regional differences are expected based on feedstock. Every blend will have its own chemical and physical properties. Specifically, every blend is likely to have different viscosity characteristics.

The Importance of Viscosity
The engine manufacturer specifies optimal injection viscosity. The correct injection viscosity leads to the best atomisation of fuel droplets. Viscosity is therefore critical to burning fuel efficiently and maximising the energy content. When the viscosity is not optimal, an efficiency reduction of approx. 2% is typical.

Suboptimal use of more expensive fuel is undesirable. But there are other costs associated with an inefficient use of fuel. A less obvious source of costs hides in combustion inefficiency. An increase in exhaust emissions, leading to increased deposits in the exhaust system, results in higher maintenance costs.

Viscosity & Temperature
It is widely believed manual temperature control of fuel on board is enough to ensure efficient combustion. This is not the case. Only continuous viscosity control, based on accurate measurements, leads to optimal combustion and best use of the fuel’s energy content.

Choosing The Right Viscosity Meter
For many years the industry standard was capillary viscosity meters. It is now accepted that electronic viscosity meters, using rotational vibration measurement, are superior. Electronic meters are capable of highly accurate measurements. It is a proven technology, reliable in the harsh environment on board a ship. Rotational vibration technology is not sensitive to fluid velocity nor pressure variations. This makes it the preferred technology solution for in-line viscosity measurement.

Modern rotational vibration viscosity meters also measure density. When combined with a positive displacement flow meter, it converts to mass flow measurement. This delivers accuracy over a large measurement range with minimal pressure drop.

More Information
The IMO2020 deadline is fast approaching. VAF is working with leading ship owners and operators to maximise the benefit they take from every drop of fuel. For a conversation about how VAF technology can save you money across your fleet contact us.  

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