Cat fines can still remain undetected in heavy fuel oil (HFO) and consequently enter the marine engine system, even when the ignition and combustion characteristics of fuel have been tested and proven to meet specifications, potentially causing a total loss of propulsion.
Fuel quality concerns
As more emission control areas (ECAs) come into operation, there are growing concerns around fuel quality and the number of engine wear situations related to cat fines are increasing. Research has shown that even small cat fine particles of below 10 microns contribute to significant wear. Incidences of excessive cylinder liner wear have been recorded even though the bunkered fuel oil was within the limits of the ISO 8217:2005 specification, which dictates a maximum of 60 ppm. This is why cat fines are causing such problems for shipowners.Early warning for corrective steps
The Parker Cat Fines Test Kit provides early forewarning of these destructive particles and gives a vessel’s crew maximum opportunity to take corrective steps. The Cat Fines Test has been designed to flag HFO samples that may be contaminated with dangerous levels of cat fines before the fuel has even been pumped aboard. This simple, wet chemistry, on-board test identifies the presence of abrasive silicon and aluminium fines in HFO. The test is simple to perform, cost-effective and can be completed within a few minutes. Experimental results demonstrate that the new test is capable of identifying those fuel samples that have a cat fine concentration of > 60 ppm (Al + Si), and which therefore exceed the limit recommended by ISO 8217:2012. In fact, the test has been specifically designed to provide the crew with a clear sail or don’t sail indication with regards to fuel quality.
Performing a cat fines test
The test kit (FG-K30566-KWCat Fines Test Kit) contains:
Centrifuge and Power Supply
Cat Fines Test Fluid Bottles ( 25)
Safety Goggles and Gloves
Pipettes ( 25)
5 ml Syringe ( 50)10 ml Syringe (25)
Cat Fines Centrifuge Tubes (50)
100 ml Beakers (2)
NOTE: Read all instructions before beginning the test.
CHECK: Centrifuge power switch is ‘ON’ - switch on the rear of the machine.
CHECK: The speed set to ‘F’ (Fast) - switch on the underside of the machine.
SAFETY: Test tubes must be in opposite positions in the centrifuge.
SAFETY: Immediately stop the use of the centrifuge if it suffers damage or impact.
First, fill a test tube to the 5 ml graduation line with water and close the cap fully.
Fill a second test tube to the first (0.5 ml) graduation line with Reagent Alpha using a 5 ml syringe.
Place the tubes in opposite positions on the centrifuge holder.
Add 3.6 ml of Reagent Alpha to a Cat Fines Test Fluid Bottle using a 5 ml syringe. The 100 ml beakers can be used for decanting the reagent.
Add 10 ml of Reagent Beta to the same Cat Fines Test Fluid Bottle using a 10 ml syringe, ensure the liquids separate.
Completely fill a second 5 ml syringe with HFO by drawing the plunger back to the stop very slowly.
Add all the HFO from the syringe to the Cat Fines Test Fluid Bottle.
Replace the cap and shake the bottle vigorously for 3 minutes
Remove the cap from the bottle and use a pipette to extract some of the mixture
Remove the test tube containing 0.5 ml of Reagent Alpha from the centrifuge.
Gently lower the pipette into the test tube until it lies just above the Reagent Alpha.
Very slowly add the mixture until the 5 ml line is reached (refill the pipette as required).
Close the cap on the test tube and return it to its position opposite the water-filled tube.
Ensure the centrifuge lid is firmly shut. Spin the tubes for 15 minutes. (push timer down to start).
Use the picture below to decide whether the HFO has significant ( > 20 ppm ) cat fine contamination.
NOTE: The ISO 8217:2012 limit for acceptable levels of Cat Fines in HFO is 60 ppm.
Watch the video to follow along with the steps:
Please visit Parker Engine Mobile Hydraulic and Fuel Filtration Division for more information.