It is well accepted that, on the average, marine fuel quality has begun to significantly degrade and is beginning to cause increased problems for the operators. Besides representing the largest single voyage expense, marine fuel oils significantly influence the performance, operation, and maintenance of marine power plants. The impact of the fuels' characteristics upon the marine power plant is largely determined by the effectiveness and efficiency of the shipboard fuel conditioning system.
Future marine fuels will continue to degrade in quality and will become more contaminated. The price of these fuel oils will increase as well, with a premium to be paid for blended, spec controlled, and distillate fuels. As the fuel quality purchased tends toward the heavier and more contaminated, maintenance costs in terms of spare parts and labor increase significantly; therefore, the requirements become more comprehensive for associated support systems such as fuel conditioning systems for all types of diesel systems, lube oil purification, waste heat boilers, turbocharges, and diesel turbocharger washing systems.
This paper is intended to provide practical, real world systems design solutions intended to permit the ship operator to cope with degrading fuel quality. It is important that the ship operator accept the primary responsibility to protect the welfare and operation of his fleet. Years ago, the major suppliers provided a good deal of protection by controlling the quality of the fuel that went to the ship. Times have changed! Generally, the major oil suppliers no longer provide this service. Much of the market is served by independents and brokers today, and this trend likely will continue in the future. The oil company refineries are still the major source of marine fuel oils.
The techniques to handle fuel presented represent refinements to known methodology as opposed to representing breakthroughs and are suitable not only for new design but for retrofit as well.