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Introduction to Properties of Heavy Fuel Oil

Introduction to Properties of Heavy Fuel Oil

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Published by: neo_nitin on Mar 07, 2011
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Introduction to Properties of Heavy Fuel Oil
As we have seen heavy fuel oil is a residue from the crude oil refining process and assuch is the dregs of the process.It is used as a marine engine fuel because of its cheapness, but it does contain a lot of impurities and must be kept at a high temperature both during storage and use in shipsmain engines.Many years ago when I was a young engineer at sea, I was in charge of taking bunkerseither from a bunker barge or shoreside supply. I was always nervous as an oil spill,even in those days was subject to a huge fine.This is an article in Marine Engineering and in particular the properties of heavy fuelused in marine engines.We begin with a quick overview of the crude oil refining process and move on to theproperties of heavy fuel oil.
Overview of Crude Oil Refining
The crude oil arrives at the oil refinery from the oil production offshore platform subseapipeline landfall point, or from oil tankers.It will have most of the gas, water, and sand/grit removed by the production platformfacilities before beingprocessed at the crude oil refinery.On arrival at the refinery it is again subjected to dewatering and salts removal beforebeing heated to around 700F and fed into an atmospheric distillation column. This is avertical column with trays situated at specific heights inside the column.As the crude oil vapors boil off and pass upwards, the lower boiling point factions suchas diesel, kerosene, and naphtha are drawn off at the trays at various temperatures for further refining.Meanwhile the higher boiling point crude oil residue has dropped to the bottom of thedistillation column. It is from these ³bottoms´ that the heavy fuel oil is drawn off, literallythe bottom of the barrel. If no further processing is required it is stored in tanks ready for distribution.Note: Heavy Fuel Oil can sometimes have addition of lighter fuel oil to reduce excessiveviscosity. But it is always advisable to have samples of bunker oil checked to ensure noother ³blending´ has taken place i.e. addition of lube oil or addition of used motor oil! 
Properties of Heavy Fuel Oil Used In Marine Diesel Engines
The major properties of heavy fuel oil are as follows;
 Density is the relationship between mass and volume at a stated temperature, and theSI unit is Kg/m
. This gives value of 800- 1010 kg/m
for marine heavy fuel oil.The density of HFO is limited to 991kg/m
to facilitate efficient centrifuging. (Centrifugesuse centrifugal force to separate water from HFO, so the bigger the difference in densitythe greater removal of water ). However the density of HFO can be been increased to1010kg/m
if clarifiers are used, as water seal can be maintained during clarification.Any higher density than this will inhibit HFO water removal treatment throughcentrifuging.
 Viscosity is a measurement of the resistant of a liquid to shear or flow and is measuredin Centistokes (CST) with a quoted reference temperature. Knowing the viscosity of theheavy fuel oil is required the temperature range required for satisfactory injection at thefuel atomizer, and efficient combustion.
Flash Point
 The flash point of the liquid is the lowest temperature at which sufficient vapor is givento produce a flash on application of a flame under specified test conditions.The minimum flash point for marine fuels in the machinery space of merchant ship isgoverned by theIMO;being set at 60
C to minimize fire risk during normal storage andhandling.
Pour point
 The pour point is the lowest temperature at which a marine fuel oil can be handledwithout excessive amounts of wax crystals forming out of solution. At a lower temperature the fuel will gel, thereby preventing flow.
Carbon Residue
 The carbon residue of a fuel is the tendency to form carbon deposits under hightemperature condition in an inert atmosphere, and may be expressed as either Conradson Carbon Residue (CCR) or Micro Carbon Residue (MCR). The maximumlimit of carbon residue content in fuel is 22 %.

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