Manson Solves H.R. Morris
Fuel Problems with
Note: Although the following article was first published in 2004 in International Dredging Review, the information provided is still relevant and explains in a clear way how the condition of the fuel you use impacts the engine's operating efficiency and the performance of emissions components now common on newer trucks and other equipment.
Manson Construction Company recently solved emission problems on the 10,000 hp cutterhead dredge H.R. Morris and other vessels by installing Algae-X magnetic fuel conditioners on the diesel engines, and by treating the fuel with AFC-705 fuel catalyst.
"We had a significant reduction of soot in the exhaust, after installing the system", said Marc Stearns, executive vice president and Southern California Manager for Manson. "There had been an oily soot residue on the catalyst blocks in the engine's exhaust treatment system, before installing the fuel conditioners", he said.
"We were in the process of cleaning the blocks again when we installed the Algae-X system," said Rocky Bolin, Manson's Southern California equipment manager. This involved taking all 500 blocks out and wire brushing and vacuuming them one at a time.
Manson's 28-inch cutterhead dredge H.R. Morris
The company is preparing for the new California emission requirements, that go into effect in 2005, and for more stringent requirements that begin in 2007.
To remove Nitrous Oxides (NOx) from the engine exhaust, and to anticipate the new emission rules, Manson installed selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, manufactured by Kaparta of Switzerland, on the 10,000 hp Morris - a million dollar investment for one dredge.
The SCR systems are large steel containers with several walls of foot-long ceramic bricks with a precious metal coating. The bricks have tiny channels for the exhaust to pass through and are stacked to cover the full cross section of the exhaust treatment chamber.
The reaction of the urea injected into the exhaust stream and the coating that functions as the catalyst lowers the nitrous oxide emissions (NOx) when the engines are operating.
The exhaust of each of the four 2600-horsepower Caterpillar engines is connected to an SCR system on deck of the dredge.
Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems on deck of H.R. Morris
After the SCR installation, the Manson crew discovered that oily soot deposits on the bricks reduced the effectiveness of the system, and that the carbon clogging the channels restricted the exhaust from escaping through the stacks. This caused back-pressure on the engines that affected the operation of the engines.
Stearns called in the air quality consultant Justis and Associates, and also Bernard Franken at Kaparta the SCR equipment manufacturer, who recommended Algae-X.
Algae-X visited Manson's project in Los Angeles last Spring for the installation of his magnetic fuel treatment system and fuel combustion catalyst on the engines of one of the boats. The results of the initial installation convinced the project managers to install the system on the Morris.
"Since we installed the system, there is no oily soot residue on the catalyst blocks in the SCR," said Stearns. "We are getting a more complete burn; the soot is dry and there is less of it. The ceramic blocks are clean and dry. fuel efficiency went up, and the system requires less cleaning and maintenance," he said.
Algae-X discovered that fuel re-polymerization is the principal cause of insipient solids that retard combustion and ultimately results in sediments and sludge that cause filtration problems and the need for periodic tank cleaning. In 1994, Algae-X started developing systems that improve the filterability and stability of fuel, enhancing the combustion process. The results include increased power output, reduced emissions and eliminating residue and deposits in exhaust treatment systems.
An engine converts fuel to mechanical energy, heat and exhaust. Ideally, the combustion process should convert the hydro-carbon fuel into mechanical energy, CO2 and water.
Algae-X technology conditions fuel in such a way that it reduces the size and mass of the fuel particle so it combusts more efficiently. Burning more of the fuel in the combustion chamber before the exhaust valve opens eliminates carbon deposits, lowers the exhaust temperatures and cleans up emissions. Fuel conditioning is the key to peak engine performance.
Diesel fuels are inherently unstable, and tend to polymerize, forming larger and larger clusters of agglomerating molecules. Fuel filters are telltales of fuel quality, and frequently need to be replaced after only a few hundred operating hours, instead of lasting several thousand. Visually, a beaker of diesel might appear clear and bright, but filters may quickly clog a two or a ten micron filter element, revealing sediment, gums and other waxy deposits.
Modern fuel injection systems have much higher pressures and tighter tolerances, to comply with increasingly stringent air quality regulations. They are very sensitive to the chemical and physical characteristics of the fuel. At the same time, fuel refinery techniques have changed dramatically, producing fuels that have a much shorter shelf life, are less stable, and more prone to polymerization and oxidation, forming acid incipient sediments and eventually tank sludge.
Historically, refineries could convert only about fifty percent of a barrel of crude oil to produce lighter fuels such as diesel, gasoline and kerosene. The remaining fifty percent went to residual oil and other industrial applications. With the advent of catalytic cracking, it is now possible to capture in excess of 90 percent of that same barrel of crude oil in usable fuel products. As a result, today's fuels such as marine gas-oil and diesel are a blend of distilled and cracked products, which are less stable than straight run distillate.
Fuel quality deterioration is already well underway after the fuel's long journey from the refinery storage tanks through pipelines, tankers, barges, tank farms, wholesale and retail vendors. The negative impact on fuels from temperature changes, water, microbial activity, heat and pressure of engines and pumps is often not understood as the cause of engine performance, maintenance and excessive emissions issues. Coking, corrosion, hard carbon deposits, damaged injectors and pumps are symptomatic of poor fuel quality.
Traditional filtration and centrifuge technology are designed to remove inorganic contaminants and free water, but are not effective solutions for the negative impact that polymerization has on the filterability and combustion of fuels and oil. The core of the issue is the condition of the fuel itself, the formation of organic compounds increasing in size and mass, forming insipient solids and sediments.
Another frequently-used remedy that has proven to aggravate filtration and combustion issues is the use of biocides. These dangerous, toxic additives are designed to deal with microbial activity and offer no effective solution for treating sediments, gums or asphaltene deposits that ruin injection systems.
The solution is the application of fuel conditioning technologies that address polymerization -- the natural attraction and bonding of fuel molecules, that form compounds that keep increasing in size and mass, eventually forming the sludge and jelly found in tanks and bunkers all of us in the industry are very familiar with.
Algae-X total fuel system management is based on principles in physics -- the application of magnetic fluid conditioning -- and on chemistry -- the application of combustion catalyst, surfactants and dispersants.
The installation of an Algae-X fuel conditioner in the fuel line between tank and the primary filter will condition the fuel by reducing the size of the fuel particles. This results in improved fuel filterability, combustion and lower emissions. This technology is based on the same principles that make generators and electro motors do their job.
AFC-705, the Algae-X catalyst, chemically affects the surface tension of the fuel constituents. The active catalytic ingredients enhance the combustion process to more completely burn the fuel, preventing and eliminating hard carbon deposits.
The technologies are complementary in addressing the prevention and reversal of fuel polymerization, optimizing fuel droplet size to promote more efficient combustion.
Algae-X incorporates these technologies in total fuel management systems, manufactured in a variety of sizes for different applications. The company builds complete fuel conditioning, filtration and tank cleaning systems. Its mission is providing customers with solutions to lower their overall operating cost while increasing safety, reliability and compliance with clean air regulations. Its focus is on the treatment of fuels, oil and hydraulic fluids.
The Algae-X system worked so well in Morris that Manson also installed it on the clamshell dredges Valhalla and Valkyrie, and the tugs Cub and Pub. Stearns stated that they plan to add the system to other vessels as well.