Louis Gomez files patent for new Invention that lowers sulphur content of bunker fuel
Extracts from the patent filed:
Bunker fuel degrades slower than standard fuel oil and produces a mixture of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and other pollutants when burned. Due to these ill-effects, bunker fuel oil is replaced by gas-oil in a number of instances. The bunker oil market is expected to experience a downturn due to strict regulations imposed by governments of most countries for limiting the use of bunker fuel oil thereby increasing the cost of these companies to do business.
Bunker oil is a high viscosity residual oil, left over after distillation of gasoline and diesel. One aspect of the present invention is to avoid the present practice of heating bunker oil from the time the oil is pumped from its source until it is used. The present invention liquefies bunker oil without heating or chemicals and substantially reducing the major contaminants found in bunker fuel oil, namely, sulfur.
Environmental regulations, including a growing number of Emissions Control Areas (“ECA“s) created by the International Maritime Organization (“IMO“), have forced companies to meet the requirements of 0.1% to switch to the use of more expensive low-sulfur fuel, exhaust gas scrubbing and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Also, the IMO requires that all vessels have a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan by Jan. 1, 2015 which has increased focus on fuel management. Another factor in the cost of fuel oil is company management of procurement, consumption and efficiency measures. Performance varies widely. For example, one study found that bunker consumption among participants fluctuated by as much as 30% within any given vessel class. To improve fuel efficiency, companies must move beyond slow steaming and improved bunker oil procurement methods and develop teams and disciplined methods to address the issue. A recent Bloomberg analysis predicted that fuel oil demand will hit its highest point ever over the next two years, putting more pressure on shipping companies.
Before selling residual as bunker fuel, a refiner will very often dilute it to meet various sales specifications for trace metals, sulfur and/or viscosity. This process costs approximately $40.00 USD/barrel. An average refinery will produce 500 thousand to 1.4 million barrels of bunker per day. Therefore, an opportunity arises if one can control sulfur in bunker oil and/or decrease the cost of handling and transport of bunker oil thereby creating a paradigm shift in the oil refinery industry.
The inventor, Louis Gomez from Florida, US had filed for a patent earlier this year and his findings were published online on October 8.
Globally, the cap is 3.5% sulfur although this is set to fall in the next five to ten years
Source: Patents Encyclopedia