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Analysis Methods for Measuring Stability, Stability Reserve & Compatibility of Residual Marine Fuels

Issued on 28 Sep 2023

Table of Contents

  • 1.     Introduction
  • 2.     Blending Residual Marine Fuel: Ensuring Quality, Stability, and Combustion Properties
  • 3.     Blending of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO, IMO 2020 Compliant Fuel) 
  • 4.     Fuel characteristics evolution and potential quality issues due to 0.5%S Limit
  • 5.     Composition of residual marine fuels leading to sludging issues
  • 6.     Common Terminology for describing the risk of asphaltene precipitation
  • 6.1.      Stability
  • 6.2.      Compatibility
  • 6.3.      Stability Reserve
  • 7.     Evaluating the stability reserve by chemical ageing
  • 7.1.      Total Sediment Accelerated (TSA) 
  • 7.2.      P-value by SMS 1600 for Measuring Stability Reserve
  • 8.     Findings
  • 8.1.      Low Stability Reserve Fuels and Unstable Fuels Which Contain Alkylresorcinols & Phenolic Compounds- Summary Data
  • 8.2.      Low Stability Reserve Fuels and Unstable Fuels Which Contain Phenolic Compounds – Summary Data
  • 8.3.      Low Stability Reserve Fuels and Unstable Fuels Which Contain Chlorinated Organic Compounds – Summary Data
  • 8.4.      Low Stability Reserve Fuels and Unstable Fuels Detected to Contain Slightly Reactive Hydrocarbons with Double Bond – Summary Data
  • 8.5.      Low Stability Reserve Fuels and Unstable Fuel Due to Insufficient of Aromaticity - No Deleterious Materials are Detected by GC/MS Analysis
  • 9.     Recommended counteractions by operators when onboard fuel is unstable
  • 10.   Maritec Fuel Cleanliness, Stability, Stability Reserve, Asphaltene Content and Fuels Compatibility Analysis Techniques
  • 11.   Conclusion
  • 12.   Moving Forward
  • 13.   Reference 


Since 1 January 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has enforced a 0.50% global sulphur cap for the shipping industry to reduce sulphur oxide emissions. A comparison of pre-IMO 2020 fuels and post-IMO 2020 fuels reveals that the latter exhibit greater instability, waxiness, lower density & viscosity, lower micro carbon residue (MCR), lower calculated carbon aromaticity index (CCAI), lower vanadium content, higher net specific energy, higher pour point, and higher acid number. The decreased stability reserve (higher paraffinic and lower aromatic content) of post-IMO 2020 fuels also raises concerns about compatibility issues when different fuels are mixed.

To address these challenges, Maritec lab is equipped with the necessary equipment and testing methods to assess the cleanliness, stability, stability reserve, compatibility, and cold flow properties of post-IMO fuels. Given that fuel stability is the primary concern with Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oils (VLSFOs), this article focuses on reviewing fuel stability, fuel stability reserve, and the corresponding analysis techniques.


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