We have seen in the previous article how the presence of water in fuel oil can lead to microbial infestation which tend to degrade the quality of fuel oil. Since fuel oil is normally bunkered and stored on board ship in huge quantities, there must be ways to overcome this problem. Intuitively, your first response would be that why not remove this water from the oil - as simple as that. Yet, it is a technical fact that it is impossible to remove all the traces of water from the fuel oil flowing in the fuel oil system.
So what is the alternative in such a case. Well if you cannot win over something, you better befriend the same. This simple principle comes in handy in this situation also. As it is not possible to remove all the water from the oil, why not mix it well with the fuel oil in order to increase the combustion efficiency, was what some people thought. Homogenizers and motor oil blenders were invented as a result of this deduction, and we will learn about these equipments now.
A homogenizer is used in order to create a stable oil and water emulsion that can be burned in oil as well as the diesel engine. It is proved that such emulsion of water results in more combustion efficiency than the haphazardly suspended water molecules. Moreover, such emulsion is also believed to reduce solid emissions in the exhaust gas.
Homogenizers are generally of two types
Both the types are used to break down the fuel particles into fine droplets in order to mix them efficiently with water. This emulsion process also breaks down agglomerates of asphaltenes and bituminous matters, which otherwise leads to solid particles in the exhaust and formation of sludge. It is also proved that homogenizers are able to reduce catalytic fines into extremely small particles, which are harmless to the system and thus increase fuel combustion efficiency.
However, many manufacturers believe that homogenizers leads to formation of sludge which often remains partially un-burnt. And it is due to this reason that many owners do not prefer homogenizers on board and consider that it is better to remove water and other small particles from the system rather than churning them, which may cause a threat to the system later on.