Skip to main content


Thursday, January 9, 2020  (Comments: 1)

Lubricant additive supplier Lubrizol has produced a white paper, outlining difficulties identified when using conventional marine engine lubricants in conjunction with very low sulphur fuel oils (VLSFO).

The company advises that legacy cylinder oils may not protect ship engines from the variable fuel characteristics of VLSFO. The Lubrizol white paper outlines the research that underpins its advice that ship owners should use lubricants specifically formulated for these challenges.

Marine bench and engine tests revealed a high degree of variability in deposit formation and combustion characteristics among VLSFO blends, even using samples acquired from a relatively small geographical area. The widespread uptake of VLSFO as IMO’s sulphur cap enters force could lead to increased incidence of engine deposits and costly damage if the lubricants selected by ship operators are not robust enough to maintain engine cleanliness.

Lubrizol’s findings appear to be supported by early reports of high sediment levels – exceeding the specifications in the ISO 8217:2017 marine fuel standard - in many test samples of 0.5% sulphur fuel taken in Houston and Singapore. Fuels with high sediment levels can lead to an accumulation of sludge in fuel storage, handling and treatment systems, which could damage ship engines.

“It is clear that some features of VLSFOs introduce variability that will require lubricants with improved deposit handling performance,” says Harriet Brice, technology manager, marine diesel engine oils, Lubrizol. “Using a more robust lubricant will help to reduce the impact to the engine of this variability.”

Marine cylinder oils for low-sulphur fuels have not had to cope with this degree of deposit formation in the past and their additive packages may not be robust enough to handle the variable fuel characteristics of VLSFO. Lubrizol has developed an additive package, balancing traditional detergents with novel dispersants, claimed to secure engine cleanliness even when faced with these challenges.

The company says that use of novel additive chemistries will not stop in 2020 as shipping’s fuel market continues to diversify; in particular, emerging low-carbon and carbon-neutral fuels will come with their own challenges for engine condition. Lubrizol’s says its investment in research, close ties to the marine industry and additive experience across several industrial sectors will position it to deliver the solutions that shipping needs.

The white paper can be downloaded from here.

Reader Comments (1)

I expect it will take until the end of 2020 to establish effect of using VLSFO in slow speed marine diesels. The addition sediment should not reach the service tank and will be taken out by the ships fuel purifiers. If this is not happening then Flow is reduced and 2 purifiers run in parallel. If that doesn’t work then the introduction of a fuel oil decanter should be considered. This is a drum spinning at about 2000 Revs which takes out most of the sludge before reaching the purifier. Of course correct chemical make up of the cylinder lub oil will prevent engine deposits and damage.

By M.Pearson on Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Leave Your Comment

Please keep your comment on topic, any inappropriate comments may be removed.

Return to index

Web Analytics