Ancora safeguards propulsion with the Alfa Laval ACS

For vessels travelling in and out of Emission Control Areas (ECAs), the biggest challenge is the changeover from HFO to MGO/MDO and back. Many are still unprepared, and the experiences of ship owners like Ancora Investment Trust Inc. highlight the risks.

DATUM 2017-09-05

“When fuel systems that are optimized for HFO start running on distillate, there will be difficulties if no preparations have been made,” says Geir Larum, Oil Treatment Application Manager, Service.

Larum points to the introduction fuel changeover requirements in California, which led to a huge number of incidents involving loss of propulsion. “If we see a proportional increase due to ECA legislation, there will be over 100 incidents per year in the North Sea ECA,” he says.

Preparing for changeover procedures

In Europe, one of those with first-hand experience of the risks is Greek tanker operator Ancora Investment Trust, Inc., a company that takes pride in effective working practices and the highest standards of safety.

Ancora wanted to be well prepared for the ECA sulphur limits now in effect. Chief engineers were therefore asked to perform manoeuvring trials using MGO, in order to assess the main engine response and the impact on fuel injection pumps and other systems.

Loss of propulsion during tests

Engine performance during the trials was alarming. “Just one hour after the changeover from HFO to MGO, the main engine’s RPM were reduced to zero,” says George Markoulakis, Technical Director at Ancora. “With the engine stopped and the vessel at a speed of four knots ahead, the engine’s telegraph was set to ‘Dead Slow Astern’. But the engine didn’t start – even after three attempts.”

Ensuring reliable fuel changeover

Following the trials, Ancora turned to Alfa Laval to secure incident-free changeover under the new ECA limits. Across the Ancora fleet, 11 units of the Alfa Laval Automated Fuel Changeover System (ACS) have been ordered as upgrades of the operator’s existing boosters.

The ACS will safeguard the changeover process by providing vital cooling and reliable automation of the temperature ramping. “Whichever fuel we’re moving to or from, the Alfa Laval ACS will let us manage the changeover safely and effectively,” says Markoulakis.