Shell Marine Products’ John Schakel considers the challenges and concerns the industry is facing as a result of new emissions regulations
Speaking at a recent Riviera Maritime Media webinar on two-stroke engines and very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), Shell Marine Products’ global marine product app specialist John Schakel explained the importance of cylinder condition monitoring, which he described as being “more important than ever”.
Noting that OEMs have special recommendations for monitoring cylinder condition, Mr Schakel stressed the baseline importance of keeping consistent records of the engine’s maintenance history, from recording visual inspections of wear to documenting the engine’s running hours.
Cylinder condition monitoring can be performed by drain oil analysis and by monitoring the condition of the piston rings by way of visual/pictorial reports to record trends so corrective action can be taken. Additionally, when scavenge port inspections are conducted, piston ring clearance and movement must be monitored.
“Know your engine condition and know the history of your engine”
Mr Schakel’s views are similar to those expressed at Riviera’s Asian Sulphur Cap 2020 conference in October 2019, where WinGD’s director for R&D Konrad Räss said engines were robust machines whose hardware required little intervention, provided the properties of the fuel at the inlet to the engine were maintained to recommended specifications.
Mr Räss made the overarching point that little was known or could be predicted as to the impact of new fuel blends arising in response to IMO’s sulphur cap, so regular inspections, especially in the initial period of the new regulation, are a must.
On the issue of lubricant oil, Mr Schakel said it was important to alternate between high and low BN cylinder oil to help clean residual compounds from the engine, such as asphaltene. He noted that OEMs issue their own advice regarding lube oil usage. For example, in the run up to the sulphur cap’s entry into force, for four-stroke engines MAN Energy Solutions recommended using lubricants in the range between 30 and 55 BN and Wärtsilä favoured marine lubricants in the BN range of 30 and 55. Mr Schakel said Wärtsilä recommends switching to 30 BN as soon as asphaltene are present in the fuel used.
A poll of attendees at the webinar showed that just over 17% reported having issues in obtaining 40BN lubricants.
Ultimately, Mr Schakel said the choice of lubricant oil is a matter of which engines are being used in the fleet and how well owners and operators know those engines and their operational history.
Based on learnings from the first few months of operations under the sulphur cap, monitor, manage, inspect and understand your engines, he and the other webinar panellists urged.
Overall, Mr Schakel’s message focused on monitoring, managing and inspecting engines. "For me, it is the cylinder condition monitoring," said Mr Schakel. "Knowing your engine condition and also knowing the history of your engine."
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