Rapid diagnosis essential as fuel concerns escalate

Multiple fuel and cost challenges mean that fast diagnosis of engine trouble more important than ever (credit: ExxonMobil) Multiple fuel and cost challenges mean that fast diagnosis of engine trouble more important than ever (credit: ExxonMobil)

ExxonMobil has highlighted the importance of timely diagnosis of cylinder condition problems as the industry prepares for a brace of new fuel quality challenges.

The IMO’s 2020 global sulphur cap will see the introduction of several new blends of very low sulphur fuel oil, with widely varying characteristics and – according to many observers - an increased probability of cat fines due to the fuel streams likely to be blended. In a new whitepaper ExxonMobil argues that engine damage can occur quickly – within 24 hours in the case of cat fines or 20 days for cold corrosion.

Such problems can begin damaging engines before they are identified by traditional scrapedown oil analysis, with conventional onboard tests using reagents often requiring two days to get results and laboratory testing often taking longer than 20 days. The risk is highlighted in a recent report by The Swedish Club, which identifies lubrication failure as the most expensive and frequent cause of main engine damage.

ExxonMobil’s updated Mobil Serv Cylinder Condition Monitoring programme uses handheld X-ray fluorescence technology to replace ‘wet chemistry’ tests with a system that can yield results, actionable recommendations and guidance within minutes. The new, simplified testing also reduces the risk of human error.

“Vessel operators face new variables where miscalculations could be costly, especially concerning cylinder oil and engine performance,” the whitepaper authors state. “Knowing what is happening inside an engine has never been more important.”

For more information, look for the paper in our new whitepapers section.

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