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Tuesday, April 16, 2019 

Separator supplier GEA has received an order for 20 CatFineMaster from the largest shipbuilding company in China. Two of these systems are to be installed in each of 10 tankers for a Danish shipping company to be built by 2020.

GEA points out that fine-grained, hard, brittle and highly abrasive catalyst residues in fuels, known as cat fines, can cause considerable damage to marine engines. Under extreme conditions, they even lead to the total failure of the main engine. The GEA CatFineMaster system helps to ensure the performance, safety and economy of marine engines and propulsion technology at sea. It consists of a heavy fuel oil separator as the core and a feed pump. This pump can be controlled during operation in such a way that an optimally adjusted heavy fuel oil flow is guaranteed, taking into account the corresponding process requirements. This ensures an additional increase in efficiency and also leads to energy savings. The system is completed by the GEA IO control system and optional measurement and analysis equipment.

With the IMO 0.5% sulphur limit, as well as the current SECA regulations, sulphur content of heavy fuel oil - up to 3.5% is currently permitted - must be massively reduced. In the production of ultra low sulphur fuel oil (ULSFO) fluid catalytic cracking is used, an important substance conversion process in the petroleum processing industry. The disadvantage of this process is that the ULSFO obtained in this way can contain cat fines, i.e. the finely ground zeolite catalysts, which are responsible for abrasion within the engine and fuel systems, i.e. damage that can run into millions of dollars.

In order to achieve optimum separation behaviour with cat fines of different sizes, the GEA system offers the possibility of varying two essential process parameters. On the one hand, the separation temperature can be changed. Hot separation at temperatures of up to 110°C reduces the viscosity of the fuel, making it even easier to separate the very small cat fines in particular. The second process variable is the flow rate, which is controlled by the feed pump to optimally adjust the flow rate of the fuel to the respective process requirements. This not only contributes to an additional increase in efficiency, but also saves energy at the same time. The CatFineMaster ensures an effective reduction of cat fines, which in detail means a target concentration of less than 5ppm and separation of all particles larger than 3μm.

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