Emulsion fuels coming of age.
Will British Firm Quadrise Fuels International provide the answers
There have been many successful projects involving emulsion fuels. Prior to 2006 over 60 million tonnes of Orimulsion® was sold worldwide before political changes in Venezuela put paid to the development.
Since then numerous trials and companies have come and gone which is strange when you consider the main benefits of this type of fuel, namely:
- Lower Nox
- Lower CO2
- Lower Particulates
- Improvements in efficiency
Quietly in the background those same ex BP engineers that developed Orimulsion® have been working away developing a new family of Emulsions fuels based on fuel oil residue ( the high viscosity residue left at the bottom of the refineries barrel )
Formed in the 1990 as Quadrise Ltd and since 2010 known as Quadrise Fuels International PLC. QFI is listed on the AIM market in the London Stock Exchange.
As developments have progressed an important alliance with AkzoNobel has been agreed. AkzoNobel the world's leader in surface chemistry, supply the specialist chemicals that stabilise the emulsion fuels. Two main types of fuel have been developed so far, MSAR for power generation and industrial boiler plant and MSAR2 for marine applications.
It is looking as if the Marine side to QFI`s fuel range is about to have it next big step.
In partnership with Maersk (the largest container ship operator and supply vessel operator in the world since 1996), QFI have been testing their fuel on two vessels, one with a Wartsila engine and one fitted with a Man engine. The trials which were started after extensive land based tests are being carried out under fairly strict secrecy. It is known that each vessel / engine will undergo two phases. The first Proof of Concept (POC) phase is carried out over approximately 400 hours and the final phase, Letter Of No Objection (LONO) over approximately 4000 hours. With the first phase of both engines nearing completion, (it is hoped that at least one POC will be completed by end of June 2014.) Preparations are already underway to secure the next quantity of MSAR2 fuel to be produced and delivered to Maersk.
The link with refineries is the key difference between MSAR2 and other emulsion fuels. By using residual fuel oil the refineries bottom line is improved by releasing higher value distillates that would have otherwise been blended with the fuel oil residue to produce low value HFO. In addition MSAR is easy to handle at normal temperatures and does not need expensive heating in transport or storage. It is envisaged that taking into account savings in production and subtracting the necessary profits that the refiner, AkzoNobel and QFI will obviously still want to make the finished fuel will still be 10-20% cheaper than existing marine heavy foil oils.
The Marine Market
Shipping lines are under increasing costs pressure and the main cost is marine fuel. In addition the next big changes in emission regulations (MARPOL) are due to come into force in 2020/2025. It is estimated that current changes just coming into force in 2015 will have added $200M to Maersk`s fuel bill alone. As noted above MSAR2 has all the benefits' of an emulsion fuel in reducing Nox, Co2 and particulates but it is the cost savings of 10-20% that will enable the shipping lines to invest in the additional technology such as exhaust gas scrubbers required to remove the sulfur levels down to the planned 0.50% m/m. ( outside SECA / ECA areas )
With the MSAR2 project further de-risked and the very positive news that QFI is already preparing for the next LONO phase, coupled to the fact that QFI is partnered by two international leaders in their respective fields ( AkzoNobel and Maersk ) bodes very well for this companies future and the development of emulsion fuels. Certainly the next couple of weeks are going to be very exciting.