Star International launches IMO 2020 marine fuel testing and treatment range

On-board fuel testing and treatment products for the shipping sector are now available from Star International.

The new fuel stewardship solution has been developed to meet the requirements for shipping operators to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) 0.5% sulphur cap and minimise the contamination risks associated with an increase of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) based fuels in the marine supply chain.

Comprising a portable XRF fuel sulphur content tester and a Star FUELSTAT contamination testing kit, the range can confirm the sulphur mixture of fuel in the range of 0.1% – 5.0% and be used on-board to detect Hormoconis resinae (diesel bug), bacteria and fungi.

Common problems arising from the use of FAME based fuels (e.g., contamination, temperature induced coagulation, and degradation) can also be treated with marine-specific additives from the Star Mariner fuel treatment range.

“IMO 2020 is set to cause considerable uncertainty within the marine fuel supply chain, in terms of both the composition of the fuel being supplied and its susceptibility to contamination,” says Alan Stewart, Marine Fuel Consultant at Star International. “On the one hand you have an obligation to ensure that fuel is within the prescribed sulphur limits, and on the other, operators will want to ensure that the fuel is free of contamination at the point of on-boarding.

“Even for operators who opt for exhaust scrubbers or similar technologies over low sulphur fuels, there is huge scope for cross contamination, meaning that testing at the point of refuelling is really the only way to confirm what you are bringing on-board.”

The IMO 2020 regulations are designed to lower the volume of sulphur oxides (SOx) produced by global shipping and curb air pollution attributed to the sector. While shipping operators can adhere to the targets by choosing to switch to alternative fuels such as LNG, or by fitting ‘scrubbing’ technologies to remove sulphur at the exhaust, the limit will mean that many fuel producers will turn to blended fuel oils containing FAME to create compliant biofuel alternatives.

Reliance on FAMEs will help to achieve the targets set out by the IMO, but there is an elevated risk of contamination in the marine fuel supply chain.

“This has already proven the case in UK agricultural and plant fuel supplies, where higher FAME concentrations of circa 7% entered the supply chain during Q2 2019. This has resulted in widespread microbial contamination, together with storage issues,” adds Alan. “Due to the rise in FAME, end users in these sectors are now relying on fuel additives to protect their hardware from damage. Given the complexities of implementing IMO 2020, a similar situation in the marine supply chain would not be surprising.”

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