Efficient Consumption of Heavy Fuel Oil in Shipping Operations

The trend for process manufacturers to globalize production over the last few decades has created large distances between production and consumption, and increased the need for shipping to close these distances. The Lloyd’s Register blog shares in a post, Heavy fuel oil: the challenges:

With the huge bulge in the orderbook still being delivered into the market and no likelihood of LNG applications for either retro-fit or the vast majority of newbuildings, heavy fuel oil (HFO) remains the fuel of today and of shipping’s medium-term future.

Given this continued reliance on heavy fuel oil over the short and medium term, shipping operators need to burn this fuel as efficiently as possible and in compliance with emissions regulations in the jurisdictions in which they operate. This HFO can be of lower or inconsistent quality, which impacts combustion efficiency, level of emissions, overall fuel usage, and maintenance levels caused by residual carbon deposits.

I caught up with Emerson’s Steve Jones, whom you may recall from earlier bunker fuel-related posts. He noted that many marine vessels have some form of processing and are fitted with viscosity booster units or fuel conditioning units. Their purpose is to prepare the HFO for combustion. The process involves heating it to bring the viscosity down from 380 centiStokes (cSt) or higher to the 10-14 cSt required by the combustion systems. The proper range of viscosity helps the atomization of the fuel as it enters the vessel’s burners.

To measure this viscosity along with density and temperature, Steve pointed to Micro Motion viscosity meters which perform kinematic viscosity [the ratio of the inertial force to the viscous force] analysis in real-time to help fuel conditioning units keep the HFO in an efficient combustion zone.

Vessel operators can monitor HFO viscosity along with overall fuel consumption to look for and avoid problems that impact the combustion process. This fuel usage represents a major portion of the vessel’s operating costs. As I highlighted in an earlier post, Certified Mass-Based Marine Bunker Measurement, Coriolis mass flowmeters provide a highly accurate way to measure the rate of fuel consumption.

Until the trend to bring manufacturing production closer to the consumers or new sources of marine fuel come into greater usage, shippers will need to fuel the global supply chain as efficiently as possible. This not only helps reduce operating costs but also helps keep the vessels in regulatory compliance.

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