Reducing particulates on older engines.

By Keith Henderson at June 16, 2010 11:20
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As emission requirements become stricter as the years pass, the question arises, what to do with older engines. The EPA Marine Engine Re manufacture Program introduces a law effective March 2008 to force operators of older ship engines to upgrade them to reduce emissions. The rules are rather limited, specifying that the improvement must reduce particulates (PM) by at least 25 per cent, that the engines concerned are commercial (not recreational) applications, manufactured after 1973, over 600kW, cylinder displacement under 30 liters and be a US flagged vessel. The upgrade only becomes compulsory if there is an EPA approved upgrade available and must be carried out at the next scheduled ‘re manufacturing event’ e.g. replacing cylinder liners. Changing many parts to effectively convert an old engine into a new model is usually not economic, nevertheless changing some parts can make a significant reduction in emissions. Although other ways to achieve the same end of reduced emissions are changing fuels, fuel additives or adopting an after treatment system.
As emission requirements become stricter as the years pass, the question arises, what to do with older engines. Although time will eventually retire these trusty old workhorses very many of them will be around for a long, long time. The EPA Marine Engine Re manufacture Program introduces a law effective March 2008 to force operators of older ship engines to upgrade them to reduce emissions. The rules are rather limited, specifying that the improvement must reduce particulates (PM) by at least 25 per cent, that the engines concerned are commercial (not recreational) applications, manufactured after 1973, over 600 kW, cylinder displacement under 30 litres and be a US flagged vessel. The upgrade only becomes compulsory if there is an EPA approved upgrade available and must be carried out at the next scheduled ‘remanufacturing event’ e.g. replacing cylinder liners. So far EMD is the only manufacturer producing such a kit. Caterpillar recently announced that they will be making kits available for some of their engines.

Marine engines are usually developed from one generation to another over many years giving the possibility that the components used to make an engine comply with modern and future emission regulations will often back fit older models of the same series. Changing many parts to effectively convert an old engine into a new model is usually not economic, nevertheless changing some parts can make a significant reduction in emissions. The parts change normally can be fitted within the engine and not require major reconfiguration of the engine room.

Although other ways to achieve the same end of reduced emissions are changing fuels or fuel additives or adopting an after treatment system: these solutions usually require changing fuel storage arrangements which is not always easy in an older vessel and can be very expensive.

Let’s hope that not only other manufacturers will join the program, but other countries will encourage fitting these improvement kits on older vessels and reduce the health hazard of PM discharge into the atmosphere.

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