HFO or heavy fuel oil is the most used type of fuel for commercial vessels, especially when it comes to shipping heavy tools and equipment. Fuel oil releases energy to turn the ship's propeller or alternator by burning fuel inside the engine's combustion chamber or to generate steam inside the boiler. Most ships in service today use heavy fuel oil (often referred to as HFO) due to its cost-effectiveness, making it a popular choice for shipping heavy tools and equipment. Heavy fuel has its advantages in the way that it is relatively inexpensive.
In fact, it's usually 30% cheaper than distillate fuels, such as marine gas oil or marine gas oil. Ships generally use 3 types of marine fuels. Heavy fuel oil (HFO), low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) and diesel. Different countries have different rules for burning fuel when the ship is in that place.
There are places like the Baltic Sea and other enclosed land waters where we have to use the LSFO in the main engines. These areas are called SECA (controlled sulfur emission areas). In countries such as the US. In the US, we have to switch to diesel in all the auxiliary machinery and the main engine.
Among shipping experts, hydrogen fuel cells are considered to be the favorites of zero-emission technologies on larger, long-haul ships. In short, fuel cells are not charged by plugging into the wall, as batteries do, but by using hydrogen. With built-in hydrogen storage, fuel cells can produce energy during most trips. Today's batteries, on the other hand, can't go very far without stopping charging, and that's impossible if a ship is in the middle of the ocean.
It is not certain whether the refining industry will adapt to that date by producing fuels with low sulfur content in the necessary quantity and, if it does not, the quantity of distillates, which will be the only option for ships without scrubbers or capable of running on LNG, could also be far below what is needed for the shipping industry to function. Meanwhile, ships operating in ECAs and in some other regions where sulfur levels are limited must already reach a level of 0.1%, which is below 0.5% of the global limit. Hydrogenics has installed its fuel cells in buses, trains, cars, a four-seater aircraft, speedboats and a research vessel in Turkey. A large number of ships that are now or will be equipped with batteries in the future will use them as a means of reducing energy peaks, storing excess energy whenever possible and using it at times of high demand instead of running another generator.
Under the new limit, ships must use marine fuels that have a sulfur content of no more than 0.50% (ULSFO fuel) to help reduce the amount of sulfur oxide in the air. Liquid natural gas seems, in many ways, a great option when it comes to choosing a fuel with a low sulfur content, as it is below the regulatory limit and has clean-burning properties. Meanwhile, at a nearby shipyard, another company is building what it calls the “Tesla ship”, an all-electric river barge, like a Model 3 for the sea. Last fall, Viking Cruises announced plans to build a 900-passenger ship in Norway that will use fuel cells that run on liquid hydrogen for its main propulsion.
That means that all ships, from small ferries to cargo ships sailing the ocean, must adopt zero-emission systems in the coming decades, according to a research consortium comprised of major shipping companies and academic institutes. Because both this platform and the fuel cells are based on electricity and not on combustion, the new technology can be more easily integrated into existing cruise ship designs. A 20-foot bright blue shipping container stands in the parking lot, labeled “Clean Energy” in white capital letters. Electrolysis installations are increasing in number, especially in a Europe rich in renewable energy, but not yet at the rate necessary to supply tens of thousands of ships.
At the same time, this fuel option will come at a relatively high price, due to potentially high demand. Around 190 of these ships are less than six years old and are therefore in principle suitable for conversion to LNG. Much of the advice is a repetition of what was needed a few years ago, when the EU imposed a 0.1% sulfur limit on fuel used during stays in ports within the EU, but now that many more ships and owners are affected, repeating that this is probably a good precaution. For example, the researchers studied the Emma Maersk, a mega-container with an 81 MW diesel engine that usually travels about 5,000 nautical miles (about 9,000 kilometers) from Malaysia to Egypt.