Global impacts of recent IMO regulations on marine fuel oil refining processes and ship emissions

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 1:22pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 05/2019
Authors: Thuy Van, Jerome Ramirez, Thomas Rainey, Zoran Ristovski, Richard Brown
Journal title: Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Volume: 70
Pages: 123 - 134
ISSN: 13619209

This study presents an overview of the context and global impacts of recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations on the marine fuel oil refining industry, future marine fuel mix and ship emissions. IMO limited marine fuel sulphur content in both Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) and Nitrogen Oxide Emission Control Areas (NECAs) to 0.1% (wt. %) by 2015, and to 0.5% globally by 2020. It is anticipated that the newly implemented IMO regulations will help to mitigate negative impact of ship emissions on public health and environment. IMO regulations require significant changes to refineries to increase the production of low sulphur fuels through a shift to distillates, use of novel deep desulphurization techniques, or fuel blending. Changes to the refinery processes can bring forth increases in greenhouse gas emissions and high capital investments. Alternative fuels will need to meet the required reduction of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in coastal areas. Alternative marine fuels consisting of liquefied nature gas (LNG) and biofuel may be suitable fuels to meet both targets. These two fuels are predicted to account for 50% of shipping energy demand by 2050, while the remainder will still be supplied by conventional heavy fuel oil (HFO)/marine gas oil (MGO). Switching to low sulphur fuels as a results of the new IMO regulations has led to measureable reductions in ship emissions generally. This fuel switching also resulted in changes in engine emission characteristics, especially on particulate matter chemical composition.

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