A Canadian technology firm says it has successfully used a patented desulphurisation technology to produce low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) that can comply with upcoming bunker fuel sulphur limits from high sulphur feedstocks.
Mike Doma from Alberta-based Field Upgrading told a bunker conference last week that the company’s vision was to be a supplier of low sulphur residual fuel by 2020.
The firm says it has a "scalable, cost-effective process" that uses a reaction between molten sodium and bitumen to reduce sulphur, heavy metals and other impurities to very low levels – while also resulting in a relatively high product yield.
The sodium is recovered through a process that uses electrolytic cells, Doma told the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) annual convention in Hamburg.
The resulting product remains a heavy fuel oil (HFO), just with low sulphur and impurities, according to Doma.
He said trials had demonstrated ability to convert a 6.2% sulphur vacuum residue to a 0.46% sulphur HFO that conformed with ISO 8217 specifications for residual marine fuels.
Doma told Bunkerworld on sidelines that the tests so far showed it could consistently get below 0.5% sulphur when using a 5-6% sulphur heavy vacuum oil.
On that basis, he said a feedstock of 3% sulphur could easily be brought down to meet a 0.10% sulphur limit that may be used by vessels in emission control areas (ECAs).
He estimated that the cost of the desulphurisation technology would be about half of the current desulphurisation cost mentioned by refineries for taking sulphur out of HFOs to meet future marine fuel sulphur limits.
So far, the process has only been demonstrated on a laboratory scale, but the company is building a 10 barrels per day (bpd) pilot plant in Canada, at a cost of $18 million.
Feedstocks used could be bitumen, heavy oil, and various types of residual fuels from refineries, including vacuum residues.
Doma said the company’s desulphurisation technology was less carbon-intensive than typical refinery upgrade processes.
Time-wise, the company plans to start up the pilot plant in 2015.
From 2016, the plan is to start a commercial demonstration and ramp up production.
By 2020, up to 50,000 tonnes per year could be commercially available to the bunker fuel market, Doma told the IBIA convention.
Under MARPOL Annex VI, the global sulphur limit for bunkers will fall from 3.50% to 0.50% in 2020, or it could be delayed to 2025 depending on the outcome of a fuel availability review.
Article Source: www.bunkerworld.com