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Cases of VLSFO bunker fuel contamination, likely by exogenous compounds , that may have been responsible for serious main engine problems, have been recently detected and reported by fuel testing firms, for the Houston area.

Fuel contamination issues were also reported for HSFO fuels for the Singapore area earlier in the year.

The recent reports have noted DCPD present at concern levels in problematic fuels cases. The attention on DCPD should not exclude attention on other potentially harmful exogenous compounds, including their isomers.

Exogenous compounds such as DCPD, can only be detected in marine fuels using advanced Mass Spectrometric methods, as their presence cannot become evident via the usual ISO 8217 testing
protocols. That is to say that a problematic fuel may “pass” the standard ISO 8217 testing protocol, and yet potentially generate operational issues to the engine. Standard Mass Spectrometric method ASTM 7845 comprises a list of targeted exogenous compounds. The creativity of fuel contaminators however, will require the gradual broadening of this target list in order to include the next generation contaminants they may use. It is useful to recall the industry’s focus, a few years ago, on the detection and presence, among others, of other contaminants such as Indene, styrene, chlorinated organics and phenols.

Focusing on DCPD, the NAIAS LABS fuels testing team, has noted, that inside engine operating conditions, via processes such as hydroformylation or hydrogenation, acidic moieties that could potentially harm engine components, can be formed.

A more comprehensive bunker fuels testing protocol, beyond the standard ISO 8217 protocol, involving testing for the fuel’s Fuel Reserve Stability (NARES) as well as GC/MS testing for known potentially harmful compounds, will provide better protection.

You may contact our experts and they will be pleased to discuss the issue with you.