IMO 2020 – Reducing Sulphur Oxide Emissions

A major step in cleaning up the toxic Sulphur Oxide (SOx) pollution derived from the marine industry was reached on the 1st of January 2020 by the IMO. This set of legislation is referred to as the “IMO 2020” and places hard limits on the Sulfur content in fuels permitted for use on board vessels.

These restrictions will improve the air quality particularly for populations living close to ports and coastal regions along with reductions in the levels of SOx previously emitted by the shipping industry at large into the global atmosphere.

SOx pollution is very harmful to human health and can lead to respiratory, cardiovascular and lung disease along with being damaging to the environment.

How can ship operators comply with the IMO regulations?

Ship owners must use fuels which are inherently low enough in Sulphur content or retro fit an appropriate exhaust system (also known as “scrubbers”) that suppresses the Sulphur content released as emissions.

Today many ships are already using “very low Sulphur fuel oils” (VLSFOs), blended fuels and other engineered solutions to meet the regulated levels. Blended fuels involve a mix of non-compliant high Sulphur fuel such as HFO with VLSFOs to benefit from a cheaper fuel type that also meets the low Sulphur requirement vs the use of a pure and expensive VLSFO.

Suffice it to say, whichever solution is employed there are significant cost implications to the shipping industry at large.

So why was Sulphur used in Fuel in the first place?

Sulphur is a naturally occurring component in crude oil which is also found in petrol and diesel fuels unless removed during the refining process.

The global automotive industry has been working on the reduction of Sulphur content in fuels since 1990 with stricter regulatory measures. Further to this in order to enable new emissions control technologies in cars and trucks that suppress other pollutants was a necessary measure to remove the Sulphur content by over 90% as Sulphur damages such systems.

On the other hand, until now the shipping industry had not come under the same levels of scrutiny when it comes to reducing SOx emissions.


The problem with reducing the Sulphur in fuels & solution

Reducing Sulfur content in fuel has been shown to greatly alter the lubricity and overall chemical composition of the fuel. Refineries use severe hydrotreating to remove sulfur. This is a process that also happens to decrease the fuel’s natural lubricity, lowering energy density (fuel economy), and increases overall production costs. While hydrotreating does increase the fuel’s cetane level, most of the side effects of hydrotreating are less than desirable.

Lastly, decreased fuel lubricity is known to contribute to increased engine wear which also has maintenance implications and increased repair costs for equipment that consumes ultra-low sulfur fuel types.

Therefore, it is becoming increasing apparent that there is a requirement for additives that augment a fuel’s lubricity. This is extremely important for enhancing the combustion process resulting in a more efficient energy release, improved economy, and reduction in other emissions along with engine protection.

Oxytane is a solution that does exactly that. Oxytane is a fuel treatment that directly impacts on a fuel’s lubricity and density – a viable solution for ship operators who are now using VLSFOs or blended fuel types.

Further to this Oxytane will help alleviate the increase in overheads for the Marine industry whom are using VLDFOs, blended fuel types or expensive exhaust scrubbers, through the consequence of improved fuel economy.


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