Is slow-steaming the solution for full engine optimization?

Being a part of the marine industry means that we know the world relies on an efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for future sustainable growth, and that the International Marine Organization (IMO) is continuously setting the global standards which regulate international shipping.

We now see that slow steaming is rising up as a hot topic once again, which makes sense as in 2020 we’ll see new fuels come to the market due to IMO regulations. These are expected to cost more than the fuels of today, so it’s understandable that the industry looks towards a proven solution to improve fuel efficiency. The resurgence of slow steaming can also be attributed to the ongoing fight against climate change.

We already know that speed management and slowing ships down is one of the most effective ways of improving energy efficiency, and that it reduces greenhouse gas and other emissions. Reducing speed requires less fuel, so it also saves money for the operators in the long term. As an example, according to a CE Delft study, slow steaming to reduce average speed at sea by 10% can lead to a reduction of 27% in fuel consumption.

However, it’s not just a case of slowing the engines down. If the fuel is still being pumped through the system as though the engines were running at full capacity, the excess fuel is then recirculated and cleaned once again in the fuel treatment system. This wastes not only energy, but high flows can have a negative impact on separation efficiency, and it means that you are not making the most out of your slow steaming operation.

The good news is that with the right equipment installed in your fuel line, and the right expertise in your partners, your vessels can take full advantage of slow steaming. Then slow steaming will not only save operational expenses from reduced fuel consumption, but it will also improve separation performance and remove more of the harmful particles and cat-fines before the fuel reaches the engine, preventing damage and wear.

This is why you need a system built specifically to be able to handle this task. A complete system that works in harmony takes care of all parameters including flow, temperature and pressure, and will give you the optimal result. Synchronization of fuel flow is one important aspect of the full system, and FlowSync is Alfa Laval’s solution which will synchronize the flow of the fuel to the separators based on actual fuel consumption.

Better separation performance is achieved as the flow through the separator bowl and system will be lower, which means the cleaning process will be concentrated on less fluid, giving cleaner fuel as a result. The reason is that the harmful particles will have more time to interact with the disc stack in the separator bowl. In short, the longer the fuel can stay in the separator bowl, the better it is for the engine.

With FlowSync installed and fully utilizing your fuel line set up, taking the example above where fuel consumption is reduced by 27%, you can improve separation performance by 10-35% depending on the particle size in the fuel. We see separation performance increases of 50% in the field when speed and fuel consumption are even further decreased. This is a significant difference, and one that can ultimately have a real positive impact on your bottom line, as it protects your engine against damage. Cat fines are known to damage cylinder liners, piston rings and fuel injection pumps and these repairs are expensive.

Combining FlowSync with optimal fuel line set up, where you run separator systems in parallel to reduce flows even further, will maximize separation performance. We are here to provide expertise and offer crucial application knowledge and solutions on how to protect your engine based on your specific needs.

So, with the right fuel treatment system design, coupled with functionality such as FlowSync, you can use less energy and benefit from greater protection for your engine.

Slow steaming is here to stay, so why not gain the most benefit from it, and ensure the engine is protected to the maximum level even with the new fuels?

Read more about FlowSync

About the author

Franciska Kjellström started at Alfa Laval in 2015, and today she is responsible for development of the Adaptive Fuel line, driving process optimization and new technology solutions for fuel treatment within the Marine Separation product portfolio.