The positive bottom line on aftermarket fuel additives

10 Oct 2011
Argos Helena

Argos Helena

Focus on the environment, sustainability and efficiency is ever present and pervasive in today’s business discussions, writes Abigail Shearer Robinson.

Improving efficiency drives the economics of sustainability and requires getting the same (or better) results using less. At a fundamental level, profitability is the sister to environmental sustainability: as in “if it pays it stays.” And, in terms of this article: if adopting a solution reduces carbon consumption or output and costs, it will be adopted.

We are all experiencing the unintended consequences of a powerful movement to increase efficiency and clean up the environment. Ironically, in some cases, down the line ramifications (consequences) of adopting new environmental policy are seemingly out of sync and in conflict with reality and sustainability objectives. These consequences are creating new operating realities and problems. One area in which this is happening is the global fuel supply. Overall, fuel quality is decreasing as “green operating expectations” and equipment requirements are increasing. This can increase carbon utilisation and expenditure rather than lower it. Now, we need solutions to the consequences of the solutions.

For example: Reduced sulphur fuels improve emissions quality. But, they have less lubricity; resulting in increased equipment maintenance downtime and costs. In some parts of the world availability of new specification fuels is nonexistent. Also, pervasive use of reprocessed waste oils as cutter stocks to bunkers have introduced inorganic and organic contaminants to the fuel supply chain. In the real world, maintenance problems, downtime, and costs are increasing. It seems, as fuel prices escalate, fuel contamination is also increasing; resulting in fuel quality decreasing. Contaminated or off specification fuels mean lifecycles of equipment consumables: filters, injectors, etc., are decreasing when efficiency dictates lifecycles should be extended. Further compromising the equipment operating lifecycles, engine noise and vibration is increasing as components and entire systems are failing. Often, the vessel’s chief engineer is cursing even louder than the captain. Efficiency is actually getting harder to attain.

If this isn’t challenging enough, the strengthening emissions legislation and subsequent engineering solutions to meet those requirements adds another financially and operationally onerous dimension to business. Profitability is being sucked away by legislation. Everybody, from manufacturer, to supplier, to operator, is making adjustments to increase profit in order to just stay in business. And, some of those adjustments have negative consequences.

As mentioned above, fuel costs are rising and fuel quality around the world is declining. At the same time, operating tolerances of new highly efficient equipment are narrowing. Globally, there is an escalating mismatch between fuel costs, fuel quality, and fuel’s impact on equipment. Who will, and how will, the problems of fuel costs, declining quality, and efficiently be solved?

Fuel Additives are one of the solutions: specifically aftermarket fuel additives. These are the additives bought and applied to fuel by the fuel consumer. Don’t be confused. These are not automotive enthusiast additives bought at retail automotive stores.

Traditionally, specialised single purpose additives are used by blenders and distributors to differentiate fuels and to bring fuel into specification. Think in terms of balancing the characteristics of fuel to fit with requirements of the equipment burning the fuel. Back in the day, equipment was robust and could handle less optimised fuel. Today, highly engineered equipment needs highly specified fuel. Regardless of requirements, you may have experienced picking up fuel “within specification” only to find it contained contaminants not even tested for, or identified, in the specification. Remember, the distributor’s motive is to meet demand most profitably. As demand increases and fuel availability decreases…and fuel cost increases…there is probably only one way for fuel quality to go.

Today, fuel additive application is evolving as “aftermarket fuel additives” upend the old practices and rationales. Through fuel additive use, it is possible to shift fuel performance quality from “just good enough” to “optimum”.

The best additives can transform fuel into environmental mitigation and efficiency tools while saving the operator money. Below are product characteristics to look for when deciding on which additive to purchase:

· The sum of the benefits provides net savings on fuel, emissions and maintenance. It saves more money than it costs.

· The fuel additives are proven to reduce fuel consumption and noxious exhaust emissions. Look at testing results relevant to your work environment, and conducted to recognised Standards Testing protocols.

  • The additives are metal free, ashless, and 100% compatible with your fuel and equipment.
  • Treated fuel remains within its specification.
  • The fuel additives are non toxic, non hazardous, and have flashpoints high enough to allow product to be air freighted.
  • Personnel can store and handle the products without onerous health concerns.
  • The additive has favourable blending ratios and application protocols. That means a very little product goes a very long way, and application is simplified and practical.
  • Combustion is enhanced. More complete combustion means using less fuel for the same work, or obtaining more power out of each unit of fuel.
  • Noxious emissions are reduced. Cleaner burn results in reduced emissions, shorter maintenance downtime, and less frequent replacement of consumables.
  • Lubricity is enhanced or replaced. This mitigates engine and component wear as well as reducing equipment vibration and noise.
  • Microbial and other organic contaminants are controlled by disrupting/eliminating the (water/fuel interface) environment they live in. This means better fuel, cleaner running equipment, and reduced maintenance without periodic use of toxic biocides.
  • Inorganic and organic contaminants are dropped out of suspension in the fuel, and easily drained off the bottom of tanks during routine maintenance.
  • Stored fuel is stabilised and fuel stratification is reduced or eliminated when bunkering.

Below is a real world business example of how a fuel additive meeting the above criteria can improve equipment efficiency, plus reduce fuel consumption and maintenance costs. The story demonstrates how improved efficiency translates into increased profitability and better business opportunity.

The Argos Helena fishes where water temperatures are up to minus one and a half to two degrees. Because of the vessel’s fuel tank configuration, it can’t go into the areas without a conditioner in the fuel. The ship used to put on 25,000l of kerosene to get through the season. Then it tried Chornco 2083 Fuel Additive.

According to the vessel’s chief engineer in an interview; before using Chornco, when still blending the kerosenein with the 380,000l of fuel, the vessel’s average fuel consumption was 4,300l a day. After introducing the fuel additive Chornco 2083, the average fuel consumption dropped to 4,100l a day. The total saving over 380,000l enabled the vessel to do another five days fishing, which meant an additional $500,000 in profit.

Normally, when picking up their lines, these boats only do a knot or two. Then they “put the hammer down” and steam up to the next line: the exhaust blowing out soot that covers the back deck. When using Chornco they don’t get that soot because the exhausts are burning cleaner.

After a season using Chornco, a bore-scope analysis showed the engine was like brand new. All the valve seats were inspected through the bore-scope and there were no signs of any sort of detrimental effect, anywhere. Though the manufacturer recommended the heads be pulled and serviced at 12,000 hours, after 16,000 hours there was no indication or reason to even consider this servicing.

Another unique benefit from using Chornco is contaminant control. The additive picks up any contaminant and takes it out of the bottom tanks to be drained off at the service tanks. The only thing changed in the vessel was introducing the Chornco additive. Before using Chornco, the vessel was using four, five filters a trip. After Chornco it hadn’t replaced one. “So just on manufacturer's filters alone, that's a huge savings. Let alone the other benefits with the fuel economy and all the other stuff.”

In summary the Argos Helena’s Chief Engineer commented,“The only reason we're using Chornco 2083 is because it's cheaper than what we were using in the past (kerosene) and it's cleaned all our filters up, which is obviously cleaning our tanks up. So it’s beneficial. It's a huge cost on these things - fuel. It's just a huge cost. Anything you can do to save a percentage of fuel is a benefit to the vessel in the long term. And, if you can save fuel, and you can run your engine cleaner - which is what we're doing - it's got to be a benefit. It's got to work. And it's doing alright. We wouldn't use it otherwise.”

Chornco is emerging as the performance leader of fuel additive formulations for use by high volume consumers of fuels in all climates and operating environments around the world. Developed to transform fuels into cost saving efficiency and sustainability tools, Chornco additives differentiate themselves by their proven performance results. Each fuel specific additive delivers a package of integrated benefits that are unique in their ability to solve fuel derived problems from point of storage through combustion. The additives are non toxic, non hazardous, organic compounds of hydrocarbon nature that are ashless and metal free.