New Bunker Fuel-blending S3 Device: A Scrubber Alternative For Some Trades

By George Backwell at August 17, 2013 00:49
Filed Under: Fuels & Lubes, Marine Diesel Engines, New Technology

The S3 switch (a marketing acronym for ‘Smart Sulphur Switch) is a prototype developed by Denmark’s Insatech in cooperation with O.W. Bunkers, to blend and adjust two fuels (HFO and MDO) to a desired sulphur content enabling monitoring and control of marine diesel engine exhaust gas emissions without fitting expensive scrubber units.  The S3 is presently on trial aboard ships belonging to some of this major bunker supplier’s customers in Northern European waters, and commercial production is planned for later this year.

S3 Fuel Switch Skid: Image credit Insatech

Fuel Switching and Blending
On most modern ships two service tanks are provided: one service tank contains the higher sulphur fuel oil and the other may contain low sulphur fuel to ensure MARPOL Annex VI emission regulations are met. This arrangement will involve a fuel changeover at some point during the ship’s engine operation, normally achieved by means of a three-way valve, and it is at this point that the S3 takes over, enabling both switching entirely over or a blending of the fuels to accord with operator-selected SOx limits.

S3 Fuel Blending: Schematic: courtesy of Insatech

Installation and maintenance

Maintenance of the S3 Smart Sulphur Switch is negligible apart from an annual calibration to ensure that the documentation generated will be accepted by authorities worldwide.

A retrofit is very simple as the unit is supplied as a small skid so only a gas oil line and a HFO line need to be connected at one end, and a discharge line at the other end. The skid has a foot print comparable to a standard pallet. Electrically all that is required is a standard power plug connector. In reality the installation can be accomplished in a few hours and with minimum costs.

S3 Features & Benefits

  • Regardless of what fuel is in the tank, it can always be mixed and adjusted to the desired sulphur content
  • The price for a mounted Smart Sulphur Switch is less than 5% of the price of a complete scrubber solution
  • Operating expenses are estimated to be less than 0.1% of the operating costs of a scrubber
  • Cost of maintenance is limited to one annual calibration
  • Savings in fuel costs alone give a ROI of 6-12 months
  • Monitoring the sulphur content of the fuel line within limits of reproducibility limits stipulated in MARPOL Annex VI
  • Recording and reporting of fuel consumption, sulphur content, density, viscosity with vessel position (optional)
  • Automatic reporting and logging
  • Stored data is encrypted and password protected
  • Integration with the vessels  SEEMP system

Insatech say that they expect their device mainly to be of interest for use in vessels that occasionally need to enter an ECA so that the investment in a scrubber solution is not viable. The secondary market being for vessels like Baltic Sea ferries whose operators choose to install scrubbers that cannot handle more than say 2% sulphur content due to space considerations: with the S3 system such vessels can purchase the cheapest available HFO and blend it down to the sulphur content that their scrubber can handle.



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