Ansuman Ghosh, Director of Risk Assessment at UKP&I Club, presents various aspects concerning the use of biofuels in the maritime industry, including the operational challenges they pose.
ccording to Ansuman Ghosh, operational challenges can arise when using biofuels, but solutions and preventive measures exist to address them. Here are some key challenges and corresponding recommendations, as presented by Ansuman Ghosh:
Microbial growth: Condensed water in biodiesel fuel can promote the growth of bacteria and mould, leading to sludge formation, clogged filters, and piping issues. To mitigate microbial growth, it is advisable to drain fuel tanks frequently and apply biocides. This helps reduce or prevent microbial contamination.
Oxygen degradation: Biodiesel can degrade over time, resulting in the formation of contaminants and insoluble materials. This can lead to deposits in engines and piping, compromising operational performance. To prevent this, it is recommended to use biofuel within a relatively short period and avoid long-term storage before use. Adding antioxidants to the fuel can improve its storage stability.
Low-temperature properties: Biodiesels, especially in higher concentrations, may have higher cloud points than conventional diesel, leading to poor flow properties and filter clogging at lower temperatures. To ensure proper fuel flow, it is essential to be aware of the biofuel’s cold flow properties and maintain storage and transfer temperatures above the cloud point.
Corrosion: Biodiesel in higher concentrations (B80-B100) can potentially cause degradation of specific hoses, gaskets, and metallic components, leading to leaks, deposits, and loss of integrity. It is crucial to verify the compatibility of fuel system components with biofuels and ensure they are durable and suitable for use with biofuel.
Degradation of rubber sealings, gaskets, and hoses: Similar to corrosion concerns, it is essential to ensure that rubber components in the fuel system are compatible with biofuels and can withstand their use without degradation.
Conversion effects: Biodiesel’s solvent properties can flush out deposits in the fuel system when transitioning from conventional diesel to biofuel. This can result in temporary clogging of fuel filters. Flushing the system and monitoring filters during this transition period are recommended to manage potential issues.
By being aware of these challenges and implementing the suggested preventive measures, the use of biofuels can be managed effectively, minimizing operational disruptions and maintaining the integrity of the fuel system, Ansuman Ghosh notes.
To remind, During the 2023 SAFETY4SEA Limassol Forum, Bill Stamatopoulos, Global Business Development Director, VeriFuel, gave a presentation on the use biofuels for the marine shipping sector, where he also noted that biofuel implementation is faced with technical challenges regarding long-term storage, microbial growth and corrosion.