New Sulfur Limits for Bunker Fuels: The Challenges and Opportunities for the
Maoqi Feng, Chemical Engineering Department, Division of Chemistry and ChemicalEngineering, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 78238, email:
The demand for bunker fuels (heavy fuel oils) is constantly increasing thanks to the boomingshipping industry. Recently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved theregulations for a decrease of sulfur limits of marine bunker fuels from 4.5% globally to 3.5% by2012 and to 0.5% in 2020-2025. For the Emission Control area (ECAs) in the U.S., whichincludes California, the Pacific Coast, and other areas, the sulfur level requirements are morestringent: 1.5% until 2010, 1.0% after 2010, and a further reduction to 0.1% in 2015. The
newregulations have raised concerns for the availability, cost and quality of lower sulfur bunker fuels,and
this brings a lot of challenges for refinery industry. Since shifting to conventional diesel fuelfor the shipping industry is an economic disadvantage, and after-treatment technology such asexhaust scrubbing can only solve part of the problems of meeting emission requirements,desulfurization of bunker fuels is becoming necessity in the refineries. Traditional diesel fueldesulfurization methods including hydrotreating might still be useful, but are less economicallyfeasible than other technologies, e.g., hydrocracking with new catalysts and improved
. This paper will review the technologies for low sulfur bunker fuels production, includinghydrotreating and conversion technology, including coking, hydrocracking, visbreaking,oxidative desulfurization, and ultrasound treatment.
On July 21, 2008, the U.S. officially signed the International Maritime Organization (IMO)"Marpol Annex 6" legislation, which requests cleaner marine diesel fuels and lower ocean
goingship engine emissions to cut ship pollution. Under the new IMO legislation, the sulfur limit willbe reduced from the current level of 4.5% to 1.5% by 2010, to 1.0% after 2010, and a furtherreduction to 0.1% in 2015 for the Emission Control Areas (ECAs) , including California, thePacific Coast, and possibly other areas in the U.S.
Bunker fuel is also known as heavy fuel oil, No. 6 fuel oil, resid, Bunker C, blended fuel oil,residual fuel oil, furnace oil, etc. This fuel type is used to fuel
fired power plants, andlarge
scale heating installations. Bunker fuel is the residuum derived from crude oil after naphtha
gasoline, No. 1 fuel oil (a light petroleum distillate, straight
run kerosene, consisting primarily of hydrocarbons in the range C9
C16), and No. 2 fuel oil (hydrocarbon chain lengths in the C11C20 range) have been removed. No. 6 fuel oil is a heavy residual fuel normally a mixture of atmospheric and vacuum distillation residues cut back with kerosene or gas oil cutter stock toadjust for viscosity.
The vacuum residuum has a boiling point range of 565°C and above.
fuel is more complex in composition and impurities than distillate fuels, including polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons and their alkylated derivatives, and metal
containing constituents. Limitedcomprehensive data are available on the composition of bunker fuel oil.
Before being sold as bunker fuel, vacuum resid needs to be diluted to meet various salesspecifications for trace metals, sulfur and/or viscosity. In bunker fuel, sulfur exists as