Switching Fuel Oil and the Risk of Loss of Propulsion

Nearly nine months have passed since the 0.1% sulphur limit for marine fuels in designated Emissions Control Area (ECA) was introduced following a tightening of MARPOL Annex VI regulations.  Although the general consensus is that operators are largely sticking to the new protocol, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has reported a number of incidents involving fuel leakages caused by fuel switchovers.  These procedures, intended to ensure compliance, do not always have proper safeguards in place.

Fuel switchover risks

Operators who have not chosen to reduce their sulphur emissions by fitting exhaust gas scrubbers are burning traditional fuel in the open seas and then switching to low-sulphur, lighter distillate fuels while inside ECAs.  Machinery space leakages raise the risk of pollution, engine room fires and possible ‘loss of propulsion’ (LOP).

Earlier this year the USCG reminded vessel operators of the importance of establishing robust fuel oil changeover procedures.  As well as ensuring that the fuel tank has been modified where necessary, there should be adequate supplies of ECA-compliant fuel.

Other factors to be considered by ship operators trading within ECAs include differences in viscosity and flash point between the heavy and light fuels.

Loss of propulsion

Among the most common causes of LOP are problems with:

  • Temperature control – while heavy fuels need to be heated, this is not always the case with the lighter fuels associated with low-sulphur.  During the switchover, fuels are moved through the same systems and the heating can cause a ‘flashing’ of the lighter fuel, turning it to vapour and causing a loss of power in the cylinder.
  • Pumps – existing pumps may be unable to cope with the suction of the less viscous lighter oils.
  • Waxy formations in the fuel lines – these are left by low-grade heavy fuel oil.  When lighter oil is introduced it has a solvent-like effect, dislodging the built-up residues and so clogging up fuel filters.

When modifying boilers (most modern boilers were not designed to burn lighter fuel) it is recommended that the manufacturer of the equipment is consulted.  Other important advice from industry experts includes testing changeover procedures before the vessel enters an ECA and ensuring the crew firstly have access to a detailed fuel changeover manual and, secondly, carry out a proper risk assessment.

In January there was a surge in the number of ships filing a Fuel Oil Non Availability Request to the US authorities, mostly due to vessels not having sufficient supplies of fuel oil in time for the 1st January deadline.  Since then the rate has dropped substantially.  Where there are still reports of lack of compliant fuel it generally relates to routine issues, such as weather delays rather than non-availability in ports.

Parker Kittiwake has built a reputation as a global leader in bunker fuel testing and oil sampling solutions for the marine sector.  For more information call the team today on 01903 731470.

Global Initiatives Tackling Shipping Emissions

China has a well-documented pollution problem. Scenes of Chinese city workers wearing face masks often appear on our television news reports.  Little wonder, then, that at last the government has begun to act.

But China’s policymakers are not only concerned with urban smog caused by traffic and industry.  They are also looking at marine emissions – the third largest source of air pollution, after vehicles and factories – and are considering a new standard for marine fuel quality (which currently falls short of that of the most developed nations) and its usage.

The south-eastern city of Shenzhen is hosting a project which involves subsidies for vessels using low sulphur fuel.  Meanwhile, Hong Kong, where shipping accounted for half of the city’s pollution, has led the way in tackling emissions, including requiring vessels using the Pearl River Delta ports to use low sulphur diesel.

European monitoring

In Europe, new measures to regulate the monitoring and reporting of carbon emissions came into force at the beginning of last month.  Owners and operators of ships entering EU ports must now begin preparing a monitoring plan for submitting for verification by the end of August 2017.  Ships will need to monitor their carbon emissions, distances travelled and record the cargo carried.  This information must then be independently verified and reported each year to the country in which the ship is registered (its flag state) and to the European authorities.  .

The regulation is the first step in a strategy to reduce maritime greenhouse gas emissions (the next stage involves meeting emissions reduction targets) which is intended to contribute to an international system for bringing down carbon emissions.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (‘the Commission’) has argued that by taking full advantage of currently feasible efficiency measures the shipping industry could save over $30 billion in bunker fuel costs each year.  Encouragingly, there is much greater scope for reducing emissions in the shipping industry compared to other transportation sectors.  According to the European Commission, fuel consumption could potentially be reduced by up to 55%.

Worldwide case for monitoring

Echoing the concerns that led the EU to bring in its monitoring and reporting initiative, the Global Commission has made the case for worldwide, standardised and reliable information on both ship efficiency and the advantages of various efficiency measures.

The Commission highlighted the process of polishing propellers more frequently as just one cost-effective way of securing fuel-efficiency gains.

Global shipping emissions cap

It also argued for a global shipping emissions cap.  Earlier this year, the Republic of the Marshall Islands submitted a proposal for a reduction target to the IMO: although this was rejected, emissions regulations are likely to tighten further in the years ahead.  As Chris Daw, Managing Director of Parker Kittiwake Procal, pointed out in an article for The Motorship, continuous monitoring of emissions is vital if shipping vessels are to avoid breaching the rules.

An instrument such as the proven and reliable Procal 2000 will monitor up to six exhaust gases and display data without any manual intervention.

For more information on this low-maintenance marine monitoring system contact the team at Parker Kittiwake today on 01903 731470.

Dangers of Undetected Wear Debris in Oil

Not all metallic wear is the same.  But whatever the type or cause, undetected wear debris has the potential to disrupt operations and cause costly repairs to vessels if not detected early enough.

Corrosive wear

As the name suggests corrosive wear occurs on sliding surfaces in a corrosive environment, and is common in ships – especially those powered by diesel engines that use fuel with a high sulphur content.  The combustion products combine to form sulphuric acid, which damages cylinders and piston rings.  High temperatures and humidity, and metals with insufficient resistance to corrosion are other contributory factors.

Adhesion, which is a form of ‘cold’ welding, and contact fatigue, caused by cyclic stress over a long period of time, are two further types of wear.

Wear debris analysis

While catching faults early enables decisions about remedial work to be more effectively planned, it is also important to find out precisely where the fault originates.  Wear debris analysis allows engineers to examine the wear mechanisms of machinery without taking it apart.  The fragments of debris will indicate which elements of the machine are damaged and also the nature of the problem causing the damage.

Ferrous Wear Debris Sensor

The Parker Kittiwake Ferrous Wear Debris Sensor will flag up any changes to the wear pattern at a very early stage, minimising damage to the vessel.  This highly sensitive piece of equipment can detect wear particles which other products find too small.  Extensively used at sea, it works seamlessly alongside existing monitoring systems and complements any laboratory oil analysis programmes already in place.

ATEX Metallic Wear Debris Sensor

The ATEX Metallic Wear Debris Sensor is identical to our Metallic Wear Debris Sensor but has been certified for use in hazardous areas.  It is the first of its kind to be approved for use in ATEX zones 1 and 2, the collective term for European directives controlling explosive atmospheres, and provides real-time wear debris count for both non-ferrous and ferrous wear metals.  It can be mounted within any lubrication system and uses magnetometry and smart algorithms to calculate particle size, speciation (which refers to the distribution of one or more chemical elements within all possible compounds) and count.


The LinerSCAN monitors the iron content in two-stroke marine engine oil.  It offers remote date logging, reporting and alarm functions.  Scuffing is detected within seconds, which allows almost instant corrective action.  It can also give early warning of problems associated with the highly abrasive catalysts (known as ‘cat fines’) that have to be removed from oil residues after the refining process – problems that are likely to become more frequent as demand for low sulphur fuel increases.

Ferrous Wear Meter

The Ferrous Wear Meter (FWM) is an easy-to-use instrument for testing oil samples onboard where off-site laboratory analysis is not possible.  In common with the products we have just described and also with our ANALEX FdMplus and other technology in our Ferrographic Lab range, it reports in industry-standard parts per million (ppm) values which makes for straightforward comparisons with subsequent laboratory test results.

For more information about wear debris and oil analysis contact us today on 01903 731470.

EU rules on reporting emissions

The European Parliament has given the nod to new draft rules on reporting fuel efficiency and shipping emissions in European Union waters.

The agreement establishes a scheme for the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of increasing the transparency of emissions data and reducing fuel consumption.

The text of the agreement will be voted on at the forthcoming Council of Ministers meeting.

Under the agreement, ships in all categories will need to report on how energy efficient they are (in terms of moving a given cargo volume over a given distance).  A document certifying compliance will have to be carried on board and be available for inspection by officials from EU member states.

Prior to the agreement, international shipping had been the only means of transport not included in EU measures to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.

Industry disappointment

However, shipping industry groups have criticised the proposals.  As non-EU ships trading with Europe will be affected, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is concerned that the EU is pre-empting the result of ongoing International Maritime Organization negotiations on reducing emissions, which were generally considered to be progressing well.  Non-EU nations may take a dim view of a separate regional regime, pushed forward by Europe, which might not be compatible with the outcome of the IMO’s wider global discussions.  For countries such as China and India in particular, carbon dioxide regulations are politically sensitive.

There is also disquiet at the prospect of the publication of commercially sensitive data on individual ships, a move that the majority of governmental representatives at the IMO had voted down last autumn.

Furthermore, the shipping industry maintains that, even as maritime trade increases, its total carbon emissions have already been reduced by more than 10% between 2007 and 2012.

Meanwhile, the European Federation for Transport & Environment, which represents businesses in these industries across Europe, applauds the increased competition and greater fuel efficiency the regulations will bring.  However, it is concerned that rapid growth in the shipping sector will cancel out any efficiency gains.

EfficienSea: reducing emissions

A separate EU scheme aimed at increasing shipping efficiency is EfficienSea2, for which funding has been approved.  Involving a consortium of 12 EU countries led by the Danish Maritime Authority, it will not only see the development of the ‘Maritime Cloud’ communication tool for exchanging maritime information, but also bring in new digital services to facilitate the automatic, remote reporting and monitoring of ship emissions and scrubber systems performance.  By allowing authorities access to reporting information and other data, operators may have their reporting process fast-tracked on entry to ports.

EfficienSea2 will also provide a test bed for developing e-navigation solutions intended to standardise the expanding range of electronic navigation and communications systems.

Parker Kittiwake has built a solid reputation as a global leader in emissions monitoring systems for the marine industry; for more information call the team on +44 1903 731470.

How a healthy & viable shipping industry can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Global prosperity is built on shipping and trade.  The world as we know it would be unthinkable without the container shipping industry: however, its size and international scope also make it a focus of critical attention in any discussion about greenhouse gas emissions.

Concern about the shipping industry’s own prosperity was apparent in an address by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to a United Nations meeting on the Law of Sea in early April.  The ICS stated that only if the shipping industry is commercially viable will it be able to invest in environmental and social improvements. It is estimated that implementing new environmental regulations will cost the industry over $500 billion over the next decade – one reason why the ICS argues that economic considerations should be given weight when drawing up similar regulations in the years to come.

Although carbon dioxide emissions from international shipping, on the decline in recent years, are now expected to rise again as the global economy strengthens, shipping continues to compare favourably with other forms of commercial transport, and operators are looking at ways of limiting emissions:

Running vessels at slower speeds – ‘slow steaming’ has already seen fuel costs and emissions fall.

Improving the efficiency of engines and propellers – as vessels have grown to super-sized proportions, their operators can fairly claim that energy efficiency and economies of scale have increased too.  One of the world’s largest container ships, Maersk Line’s Triple E, has a squarer profile which enables it to carry more containers.  It also has a redesigned engine and state-of-the-art waste heat recovery system.

Opening the door to innovative ideas – experts believe technology such as Flettner rotors could play a role in container shipping.  Flettner rotors are, in effect, sailing systems which use the wind for propulsion, reducing reliance on fossil fuel-burning engines.  However, they are expensive to install and can make unloading operations more difficult.

Switching to alternative fuels – these include biofuels – Maersk Line has been experimenting with algae biofuel – and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG).

Installing seawater scrubbers in this type of scrubbing, the alkalines in the water react with the sulphur oxides in the exhaust and neutralise them.  No additives are required.  The technology has been approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and enables operators to continue using their existing fuel rather than switch to a low sulphur alternative.  A range of analysers from Procal, including the Procal P2000, are currently monitoring exhaust gases in marine scrubbing systems.

Since the revised MARPOL Annexe VI regulations limiting sulphur in fuel came into effect, checks on fuel quality have never been so important.  Operators around the world call on the market leading skills of Parker Kittiwake for bunker fuel sampling and testing: for more information please call the team on +44 1903 731470.

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.

For further information contact us on:
Tel: +44 1903 731470
Email: kittiwakeinfo@parker.com

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.

For further information contact us on:
Tel: +44 1903 731470
Email: kittiwakeinfo@parker.com

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.

For further information contact us on:
Tel: +44 1903 731470
Email: kittiwakeinfo@parker.com

Parker Kittiwake exhibiting condition monitoring offering at Maintec 2013

Focus On 2 Maintec Graphic

From the 5th – 7th March, Parker Kittiwake will be exhibiting at Maintec, the UK’s premier show for maintenance and asset management, taking place at the NEC, Birmingham.

Parker Kittiwake will be displaying a range of their condition monitoring and acoustic emissions monitoring products on booth H21 in hall 6. Furthermore, Dr Trevor Holroyd, Technical Director at Parker Kittiwake will be speaking on the topic of ‘the application of acoustic emission to detect ineffective lubrication in operating machinery’.

We hope to see you there!


Parker Kittiwake awarded ISO 14001 Environmental Management standard

Following a detailed technical review and assessment process carried out by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), Parker Kittiwake is delighted to announce that it has been awarded the ISO 14001 Environmental Management certificate.

ISO 14001 Environmental Management is an internationally recognised standard outlining how to implement an effective environmental management system. It recognises investment in reducing waste and energy use, improving efficiency and meeting legal obligations.

Steve Dye, Business Development Manager at Parker Kittiwake, commented: “Achieving the ISO 14001 Environmental Management certificate highlights Parker Kittiwake’s ongoing efforts to work towards greater environmental sustainability. It sets an industry standard for all to work towards and will help Parker Kittiwake meet customer expectations while maintaining both our corporate and regulatory responsibilities.

“The next stage in the process of ISO 14001 Environmental Management is to maintain our high standards and work towards the next assessment that will be carried out in May 2013. This is a great achievement that cements Parker Kittiwake’s credentials as an environmentally responsible company.”

Click here to download the certificate.