Low Cost Fuel Oil Alternative: Development on Track

By George Backwell at January 26, 2013 05:36
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A new low-cost alternative to heavy fuel oil recently came successfully through further tests on the 2-stroke marine diesel engine of a Maersk Line container ship, an engine fairly typical of a type to be found on modern ships.  The tests were carried out in late 2012 by A.P.Møller-Mærsk and a leading marine engine manufacturer.

Maersk Triple-E Class Container Ship: Image credit Maersk Line

On the back of this test, innovators Quadrise anticipate that commercial volumes of their Marine MSAR®2 bunker oil will be produced progressively from mid-2013, with a full commercial roll-out the following year.

Quadrise was formed in the 1990’s by a group of former BP specialists who developed new technology to produce MSAR® (MulPphase Superfine Atomised Residue), from a variety of heavy hydrocarbons with superior combustion characteristics. In 2004 a long term alliance agreement was established with AkzoNobel, a world leader in surface chemistry.

MSAR® Fuel Technology
The purpose of the technology is not only to render heavy hydrocarbons easier to use by producing a low viscosity fuel oil using water instead of expensive oil-based diluents, but also to produce a superior fuel with enhanced combustion features.

The process involves smaller fuel droplets in a stable water-based emulsion being injected injected into the cylinder, resulting in a complete combustion that produces lower NOx and PM exhaust gas emissions.

MSAR® Fuel Oil Combustion: Image credit Quadrise

Besides the low-cost benefits it offers to shipowners as a heavy oil bunker fuel, the new technology is also a game-changer for oil refiners as it frees up valuable distillates traditionally used for HFO manufacture, providing a viable alternative process for handling the bottom of the crude oil barrel without significant expenditure – thereby increasing profitability.

The MSAR® process transforms hydrocarbons that are solid at room temperatures (and have to be heated to temperatures over 100°C  in order to flow) into a product that can, depending on client requirements, be stored and transported at ambient temperatures of 15-30°C.  As a result the energy requirements for handling and transporting MSAR® are lower than HFO, which is generally handled at temperatures in excess of 50°C.

The toxicity of MSAR® is largely a function of the refinery hydrocarbon feedstock, which itself is a component of HFO. Unlike HFO however, MSAR® is dispersible in water and has a flash point in excess of 100°C.

MSAR® fuel can be handled using the same equipment and vessels used for conventional HFO. Operating procedures and contingency  plans developed for HFO are generally suitable, and where necessary adapted, for MSAR® purposes.

In the case of accidental spillages MSAR® poses similar or fewer environmental risks to those of HFO, of which some 600 million tonnes is handled annually, and precautions against spillage are similar. Should an MSAR® spill occur at sea the fuel self-disperses readily in the body of water, due to the presence of surfactants.



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