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Parker Kittiwake test device offers two-minute sulphur analysis

Shiprepair & Maintenance: June 2019Kittiwake

Traditionally, the ship’s crew have reliant on the information given on the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) as an indication of sulphur content, however it still carries the risk of accidental non-compliance and costly implications when inspected by Port State Control (PSC) officers, depending on how local authorities. Consequently, there is growing demand for portable, convenient Sulphur testing solutions.


Officially launched at SMM in September 2018, the XRF [X-Ray Fluorescence] Analyser is intended as an in-situ testing apparatus for fuel oils and lubricants to ensure they comply with the 0.5% sulphur limit and correlates with what shows on the BDN.


120 seconds
XRF is one of two laboratory technologies capable of detecting different contaminants by parts per million.  The major benefit of the XRF Analyser is that it allows crew in the ship’s engine or control room to run a simple plug-and-play procedure, obtaining results within just 120 seconds.


According, to Steve Dickens, regional account manager for the UK-based firm, this has huge implications for fuel checks. “An employee of a major container ship operator recently told me it can take three to five days to get bunker test results back, long after a ship has left port and is burning that fuel. To take any remedial action by that point can be incredibly expensive.”


But it doesn’t stop with sulphur detection, explains Dickens: “We’ve been trying to look at fuel compliance holistically. Measuring the level of sulphur is the big thing, but there is also the potential increase in catalytic fines and issues around the compatibility of blended fuels.”


“Because the XRF Analyser is doing an elemental analysis we’re able to check for other wear metals as well. You can gain a lot of information about engine performance and an indication of areas of concern from the presence of elements like cadmium, palladium, nickel or manganese. Overall there are 13 or 14 different parameters you can measure with this instrument.”


Dickens believes this gives the equipment a significant advantage over competitors, many of whom are not specialist marine suppliers and unaware of the value of diagnosis and analysis to maintaining marine engines.


ISO certified
The XRF Analyser is calibrated to the ISO 8754 standard for laboratory measurements, which Dickens points out is more important for such equipment than product type approval. “It seems to be of more concern to customers, who want to be able to validate it’s still performing six months after they buy it.”


Demand for the product is growing fast.  A single XRF Analyser unit retails for US$24,000, but most shipowners are ordering it as a fleet-wide solution, which can mean anything up to 50 vessels. Parker Kittiwake anticipates a three-year boom for orders after which its strategy is to focus more on the device’s value as an engine wear analysis tool. “But at the moment it’s all about sulphur,” says Dickens.