Cutting Costs by Optimizing Engine Performance 


Published Dec 19, 2019 6:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Fuel compatibility and Diesel engine performance measurement, particularly in respect of reducing maintenance cost, was the focus of attention for over a hundred members of the shipping industry who attended a UAE branch technical meeting  of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) on 12 December, when Mr. Matthias Winkler, Managing Director CMT presented ‘Cutting costs & reducing harmful ship emissions’ and ‘Onboard Fuel Oil Compatibility Tester’.

With the growing use of low Sulphur fuels, testing the stability of the fuel oil and its compatibility for commingling is becoming increasingly important. Whilst every fuel oil is produced to be stable - in that it does not have the tendency to produce Asphaltenic sludge – bunkers being stemmed are not necessarily compatible with existing onboard fuel stocks. CMT’s onboard fuel oil Compatibility Tester is extremely simple and takes just 4 hours, providing engineers with crucial information that can prevent sludge build up, damage to fuel oil systems and ensures smooth engine operation by ruling out any problems with fuel combustion, in advance.

During his presentation, Matthias emphasized that optimizing diesel engines performances are key to reducing ships’ operational costs. Towards this end, Indicator Diagrams are indicative of the power generated within engines and are a useful tool for marine engineers to get an insight on their engines’ performance. Sensors like acoustic emission sensors can provide useful additional information about injection, ignition and combustion. Modern Main Engines are sometimes monitored 24/7 with online systems provided by the manufacturer. However, these systems only monitor some key points from the combustion process. For a detailed analysis of problems shown by an online system, a handheld system can be useful. Also, the Auxiliary Engines are often neglected when the main engine is monitored online and hence consume more fuel than needed. However, recent trials undertaken for market research showed large differences between the different sensor technologies, different hand-held devices available on the market, as well as the different software solutions provided with the devices. Main deviations have been found in accuracy and the capability to undertake diesel engine performance analysis. Diesel engines, typically with six or more cylinders, are frequently prone to cylinder–to–cylinder variability requiring periodic re-balancing and frequent adjustments. In some marine diesel engines, cumbersome monthly balancing is required to maintain nominal engine operation and emission characteristics.

Nikeel Idnani, Honorary Secretary of the IMarEST UAE branch who presided over the meeting remarked, “the presentation introduced innovative ways of monitoring the complete combustion process to reduce fuel consumption and emissions commensurate with the IMO 2050 target. Enhancing the performance of engines is a straightforward method of reducing GHG emissions and operational costs of a vessel”. He brought to light the risk of incompatibility when mixing two types of fuels and suggested using approved instantaneous onboard Compatibility Test Kits as a mitigating measure against clogging of fuel filters and separators and sticking of fuel injection pumps, all of which can lead to loss of power or even shut down of the propulsion plant, putting the ship in harm’s way.

The seminar, organized by CMT’s exclusive distributor in the Middle East - Planet Blue Marine, packed hard-hitting absorbing intellectual content, keenly discussed with 101 regional ship owners/managers, executives from shipyards, engineering firms, oil & gas exploration and services companies, suppliers/service companies, marine consultants, independent surveyors, classification societies managers, inspectors from regional Flag administrations & Port officials. The audience was truly captivated by the forum and once Matthias came to the end of his presentation, there was an almost never-ending stream of questions from the floor. Discussions continued during the networking dinner that followed.

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