The Problems Delaying the Switch to LNG in Shipping Fuel

The shipping industry has found itself doing a U-turn when it comes to the use of LNG as shipping fuel. In the face of stricter emissions regulations coming into play in January 2015, ships must turn to an alternative, low sulphur fuel source. However, whilst the challenges of using LNG have previously made it an unpopular alternative, the shipping industry is now coming around to it as a shipping fuel.

LNG – liquefied natural gas –consists mainly of Methane, which is converted to liquid form at extremely low temperatures of -162°C. This shrinks the volume of the gas 600 times, making it easier to store and transport.

One of the main challenges of using LNG as shipping fuel is its unique properties, which make the switch from conventional fuels to LNG a difficult one.

LNG stored at low – cryogenic – temperatures
Due to the incredibly low temperatures needed to store LNG fuel, special storage tanks must be used in order to protect the rest of the vessel and crew. Only special materials can come into contact with the cryogenic temperatures of LNG, such as stainless steel, aluminium and Invar. Contact with personnel must also be avoided, making the design of LNG tanks much more intricate than those for conventional fuels.

Larger storage space needed
The storage space required for LNG is four times higher than the space needed for conventional fuels, such as diesel, for the same range. A safe area around the tank is needed in case of any accidental spillage, further increasing the storage space required.

Tanks must be ventilated
LNG shouldn’t be stored in an enclosed space due to its volatile nature. Therefore a ventilation system is essential.

LNG facilities are limited
As the shipping industry is only just beginning to wake up to the opportunities of LNG fuel, bunkering facilities are still very limited. For some ships it may be necessary to provide a back-up fuel option to ensure fuel availability.

Yet, despite these challenges, demand for LNG fuelled ships is expected to increase as a result of the new regulations. Currently there are only 40 LNG fuelled ships in operation around the world. But a recent study by Lloyd’s Register predicted there could be as many as 653 deep-sea fuelled LNG ships in operation by 2025, as ship operators search for a long-term solution.

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Lowering Sulphur Emissions with Scrubbing Systems

New emissions rules being introduced in 2015 means ship owners worldwide are faced with a choice on how to comply. From January 2015 sulphur emissions limits will reduce 0.1%, leaving ship owners with two options to comply with the new regulations – switch to a low sulphur content fuel or use scrubbers to remove sulphur particulates.

Scrubbing systems remove the sulphur content of fuel from the exhaust gases after they’ve been burnt, meaning vessels can go on using their existing fuel.

The process of scrubbing exhausts has been used since the 1930s in industrial plants and marine vessels. The scrubbing process uses a fluid containing alkaline material which can absorb SOx and neutralise it. After this process the clean exhaust gases are released and the resulting waste product, or sludge, is stored on board and transferred on shore.

There are two types of scrubbing– wet scrubbing systems and dry scrubbing systems.

Wet Scrubbing Systems

Wet scrubbing systems use a combination of three types of water in the process of removing SOx from exhaust gases:

  • Seawater is used in some processes, because of its natural alkaline content. Water is drawn from the sea, used in exhausts to absorb sulphur from exhaust emissions before being returned to sea. Before it’s returned any oil and solid matter is removed.
  • Freshwater is often used on vessels where the natural alkalinity of seawater is not sufficient to react to the sulphur found in exhaust emissions. This process requires the addition of caustic soda (NaOH) which reacts with and absorbs sulphurous gases. Freshwater scrubbing reduces SOx emissions by 97.15%
  • A hybrid scrubbing system can also be used, which is a combination of both the above methods. Using this system can improve SOx emissions cleaning performance by 98-100%

Dry Scrubbing Systems

On-board dry scrubbing systems use granular hydrated (slaked) lime, which is converted to calcium sulphate, a by-product with commercial value in shore-side industry.

Scrubber units generally consist of a vessel or vessels that enable the exhaust streams from one or more engines or boilers to intimately mix with the ‘washwater’ or dry chemical.

Scrubber vendors typically quote the maximum sulphur content of the fuel that can be consumed by an engine so that emissions equivalent to using 0.1% sulphur fuel can be achieved. This varies between 3% and no upper limit, which in reality means that very high sulphur oxide removal rates of over 98% are possible.

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ECA Compliance is Coming

Come January 2015 emissions of Sulphur Dioxide (SOx) in all Emissions Controlled Areas (ECAs) must be reduced to 0.1%.

ECAs, also known as Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), cover the Baltic Sea, North Sea, English Channel and the waters 200 miles off the coasts of America and Canada, and were established to minimise pollution from ships as part of the 1997 MARPOOL Protocol. Since 2010 sulphur emissions have been set at 1.0%, but to meet the stringent targets emissions will be reduced again come January.

Why were ECAs introduced?
It became apparent that there were certain areas in the world where shipping activity was significantly higher and so Emissions Control Areas were set up to minimise damage to the environment. Typically a ship will release over 35,000 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur in its exhaust fumes. When you compare this to the average car, which releases less than 10 ppm, it is easy to see why reducing damaging exhaust emissions from shipping is important.

What is sulphur dioxide?
Sulphur naturally occurs in crude oil, which is concentrated in the residue of refinery distillation. The sulphur content found in fuel oils differs, from 1% (LSFO – low sulphur fuel oil) to over 4%, depending on the refining process. During combustion in a diesel engine, sulphur from the fuel is oxidised to sulphur dioxide (SO2). The oxidised product has effects on both the engine system and environment when emitted to the atmosphere.

The new compliance rules will apply to all vessels operating within any ECA. For ship owners there are two options to meet the requirements of the SOx emissions regulations:
Option 1: Switch to an alternative fuel with the correct sulphur content
Option 2: Install a scrubber to remove sulphur from the exhaust fumes following combustion

Find out more about marine emissions and compliance.

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What are Cappuccino Bunkers?

In 2012 Singapore became the centre of a bunkering dispute which resulted in a full investigation into what is known in the marine industry as the ‘cappuccino effect’.

What is the cappuccino effect?

Cappuccino bunkers are caused by compressed air being blown into the fuel oil during the transfer process. The blown air increases the apparent volume of fuel oil, but once the process is completed air rises to the surface resulting in froth and foam sitting on the surface of the fuel in a cappuccino effect.

As a result of this malpractice the shortfall for vessels can be significant, the vessel in Singapore ended up with 46 tonnes less fuel.

How is it caused?

The cappuccino effect occurs when air is injected into fuel oil, which can be done in a couple of different ways during transfer

  • Compressed air can be blown into tanks before it’s transferred to increase the apparent volume of the fuel oil.
  • Air can be injected into the fuel oil during transfer via the discharge pump or into the discharge line. Compressed air equipment, usually used to blow through pipelines after discharge, may be used in this process or a separate system can be used.

What are the signs?

Whilst the resulting ‘cappuccino effect’ is one of the most visual alerts to this problem, there are other tell-tale signs that something isn’t right throughout the transfer process.

  • Foam or frothing on the surface of the fuel oil prior to bunkering and on a vessel whilst transfer is taking place. Also look for bubbles and frothing on sounding tape or brass bob throughout the transfer process.
  • Check the pipework for suspect connections before the transfer begins. Look out for suspect connections on the supply pump and pipework where air injection lines can be used to blow air into fuel oil. Make time to inspect the line blowing arrangements before transfer begins.
  • Unusual noises heard by the crew of the vessel in Singapore were the first indication that something was wrong. If compressed air has been injected you’ll hear gurgling noises coming from the supply line or at the manifold. The fuel tank vent head and ball or float valves may also vibrate or rattle if there is an excessive amount of air present. You may also notice the supply hose moving around in a jolting or shuddering motion.

Bunker fuel sampling ensures a representative sample is captured for testing and analysis, it forms the basis of all discussion, debate or dispute resolution relating to bunkering. The Parker Kittiwake bunker fuel samplers are lightweight and easy to install and come complete with bunker fuel sampler joint rings.

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Tel: +44 1903 731470

How to make savings on bunker costs

Marine fuel, on average, accounts for more than half of the total cost of operating a marine vessel. Not only this but ship owners and operators are coming under increasing pressure as the deadline for changes to emission control areas (ECAs) in 2015 draws ever closer.

Optimising value where possible in the marine industry is becoming increasingly important. As a sign of the times ExxonMobil this year released their top five tips on how to save money on bunker costs, which the company claim can save owners and operators up to $3 per tonne of fuel purchased.

Read on to see what the top five tips are and how to achieve them.

Minimise Water Content
The ISO 8217:2012 water content compliance level is set at 0.5%. Marine fuels supplied at this cost can potentially cost $6,000 per purchase for a 2,000-tonne bunkering. The water needs to be removed before burning, adding further costs to the purchase of up to $3,000. On top of this, removal of the sludge (a by-product of this process) may also incur additional costs. Opting for a lower water content fuel will result in savings in the long-term. Fuel can be tested on site at time of bunkering for water content using a Parker Kittiwake digi kit.

Stay Clear of High Metal Content
Aluminium and Silicon are commonly found in marine fuels. Known as catalytic fines they have the potential to cause significant damage to vessel engines which can lead to delays, losses and repair costs.

Despite some of the world’s leading engine builders recommending catalytic fines levels of 15 mg/kg, under the ISO 8217:2012 catalytic fines of up to 60mg/kg and 80 mg/kg under the ISO 8217:2005 are allowed for.

All major oil suppliers aim to keep catalytic fines levels in their marine fuel low, at an average of 10mg/kg, helping to limit the removal of catalytic fines, reduce abrasive wear on engine components and avoid the cost of additional maintenance and possible breakdowns.

Marine Fuel Stability
A trend for blending marine fuels from different sources has emerged in an attempt to meet the lower sulphur levels specified in the changing marine industry regulations. The resulting blended fuel can be unstable and has the potential to cause sludge or a build up of heavy deposits which can result in high repair costs and impact vessel performance. The compatibility of different fuels can be tested using a compatibility oven.

Calculated Carbon Aromaticity Index (CCAI) Level
CCAI indicates the level of marine fuel combustion quality. It’s important for these levels to not be too high or too low – low or high level marine fuel can cause poor combustion and has the potential to impact vessel performance. ISO 8217:2012 sets the maximum limit of 870 for most common residual marine fuel grades, choosing marine fuels within these limits will help protect against poor performance. CCAI can be calculated by knowing the density and viscosity of the HFO.

Laboratory analysis
As well as the above points ExxonMobil, and other major oil suppliers, also recommend to send fuel samples to an approved laboratory for bunker fuel testing, allowing operators to understand the quality of the marine fuel received and how to manage the marine fuel system on board their vessels. Ensuring the fuel quality at the time of delivery and calculating the density is an integral part of good bunkering practices.

The importance of a suitably drawn and witnessed representative bunker fuel oil sample cannot be over-emphasised. It forms the basis of all discussion, debate or dispute resolution relating to the bunkering. The most common and economic means of obtaining a representative bunker fuel sample is by using a drip sampler, such as the Parker Kittiwake drip / line bunker fuel samplers found on thousands of ships worldwide. The representative sample is then decanted into approve bottles for analysis and storage.

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Parker Kittiwake at SMM Hamburg 2014

Parker Kittiwake will be attending the annual SMM conference and trade fair in Hamburg, Germany on 9th – 12th September 2014.

The trade fair is widely recognised as the international platform and leading forum for the maritime industry, attracting the world’s leading companies in the field, who come to present their innovations, trends and new technologies.

Come and see us on the Parker Hannifin Stand 319 in Hall A4 where our experienced Application Engineers and Sales Team will be on hand to discuss condition monitoring and our range of solutions to help monitor your assets and alert you to problems at the very onset of failure.

If you’ve suffered from cold corrosion issues come and talk to us. The problem of cold corrosion is escalating, operating conditions, high sulphur fuels and sub-optimal feed rates are causing costly acidic corrosion to cylinder liners. Parker Kittiwake’s new Cold Corrosion Test Kit goes beyond the capabilities of other cold corrosion kits to allow ship owners and operators to obtain an accurate picture of the levels of corrosive elements present in cylinder oil, potentially preventing critical damage before it occurs.

We look forward to seeing you there.

For further information contact us on:
Tel: +44 1903 731470

Parker Kittiwake at the Climate Engineering Conference

Parker Kittiwake will be attending the Climate Engineering Conference in Berlin, Germany on 18-21 August 2014.

Climate engineering is rapidly becoming a contentious issue within political, scientific, and cultural discussions of climate change, in part due to a perceived lack of progress on crucial emission reductions. This conference aims to bring together the research, policy and civic communities to discuss the highly complex and interlinked ethical, social and technical issues surrounding climate engineering. Find out more about the conference on

We look forward to seeing you there.

For further information contact us on:
Tel: +44 1903 731470

The Holroyd MCH-HMI Unit

Parker Kittiwake is pleased to announce the launch of the Holroyd HMI (Human Machine Interface) Unit.

Used alongside the MHC (Machine Health Checker) Smart Std and Smart Slo sensors, part of the MHC 4000 Series Sensors from Parker Kittiwake Holroyd, the HMI Unit translates sensor data, allows detailed analysis of historical data and can be accessed remotely.

The HMI Unit is a data monitoring and recording device which, when used in conjunction with the Smart and Slo sensors, translates the 0-10V outputs of the sensors into dB, Distress, Peak, Intensity and Extent readings, as well as providing access to a variety of methods for reacting to the readings obtained from the MHC sensors.

Once the HMI Unit has been successfully connected and configured with sensors, it displays their current alarm states with colour indications to easily identify status. Historical data for each sensor can also be easily accessed using the HMI Unit, allowing for detailed analysis.

The HMI Unit can be accessed remotely via an internet browser if the Unit is connected to the internet, making it easy and flexible to access sensor data.

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Tel: +44 1903 731470

Guide to Emission Analysers for Industrial & Marine

Procal are world leaders in continuous emission analysers and continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS), used to monitor emissions in industrial and marine environments in compliance with the standards set by environmental agencies across the world.

Since 1985 we have supplied over 3000 units, from standalone to fully-integrated systems. Here, we pull together the knowledge and expertise we have to provide you with a guide to our continuous emission analysers suitable for industrial and marine environments.

Procal 2000 – Infra-Red Analyser
Procal 2000 Infra-red AnalyserThis duct-, or stack-mounted, gas analyser uses the reflective beam principle to measure process gas as it enters the sample cell, providing analysis of up to six gas-phase emission components.

Operating on the proven, single beam, dual–wavelength IR light principle, two specific wavelengths per monitored component are transmitted through the sample cell. The ‘measure’ pulse is partially absorbed by the gases being measured, while the ‘reference’ pulse remains unaffected. Up to eight wavelengths are available, sometimes sharing reference wavelengths, allowing up to six gas-phase component concentrations to be monitored simultaneously.

Using our sintered metal technology, the Procal 2000 removes the need for gas filtering or sample conditioning and requires little maintenance.

Procal 5000 – Ultra-Violet Analyser
Procal 5000 - Ultra-Violet AnalyserThe Procal 5000 also uses the reflective beam principle to directly measure process gases entering an in-situ sample cell, providing complete gas analysis. The full UV spectrum is stored and analysed, and the gas emission concentrations calculated using absorption spectroscopy.

Using an extended-life UV source, the Procal 5000 is capable of over 7000 hours of continuous operation. The integral zero and calibration point gas capability means maintenance is kept to a minimum.

Procal 6000 – Radioactive Gas Monitoring
Procal 6000 – Radioactive Gas MonitoringThe simple design of the Procal 6000 is well suited for stack testing and analysis of corrosive, toxic, and potentially radioactive gas-phase samples. The in-duct system is reliable and relatively low maintenance.

The Procal 6000 uses the same single beam principle as the Procal 2000, incorporating Gas Filter Correlation to minimise the risk of cross sensitivity.

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Parker Kittiwake at the Propulsion & Emissions Conference

Parker Kittiwake will be attending and sponsoring the 36th Propulsion and Emissions Conference, held in Hamburg, Germany at the Atlantic Kempinski Hotel, on 21st – 22nd May 2014.

The two day conference will see global shipping industry leaders discuss and debate current and future industry issues. On the first day of the conference Parker Hannifin’s Research Manager, Stuart Lunt, will be giving an informative talk on measuring the metallic and corrosive wear within cylinders through the use of onboard analysis of used scrape-down oil. See the full conference schedule here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

For further information contact us on:
Tel: +44 1903 731470