Sulfaway Project

Innovative approach for the desulfurization of heavy oil

Sulfaway Executive Summary

SULFAWAY project aims to study in lab scale and prove the concept of a novel desulfurization methodology
of heavy fuel oils, which complies with the “technology/ know-how applications (engineering and
technology) related to the hydrocarbon sector”.

Project Objectives

The general objective of the SULFAWAY project is the development of an innovative process for the oxidative desulphurization (ODS) of the heavy diesel oil that is used in the marine industry. In October 2016 the International Marine Organization (IMO) committee set January 1st, 2020 as the starting date for the new MARPOL (Marine Pollution, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships)
regulation, where new limitations have been introduced concerning the sulphur content of the fuel oil used by ships in order to prevent pollution originated from the marine industry.

More specifically, all ships that are operating outside the designated emission control areas (ECAs) must use fuel oil with only 0.50% m/m (mass to mass) Sulphur content; significantly reducing the sulphur content compared to the former limit of 3.50% m/m sulphur content. Since the majority of current fuel oil does not meet the 2020 standards, lowsulfur fuel oil and other distillates, such as MDO, will see demand increased. The current global average of sulfur content in heavy fuel oil (HFO) is above 2.5 percent, and with the new regulation, at least 80 percent of this will have to be removed, or a way must be found to dilute it with very low-sulfur-content fuels.

Existing Knowledge-Project Innovation

The large number of ships that are operating worldwide use heavy fuel oil as fuel. The main reason that the HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil) is widely used by the maritime industry is its lower cost than all other fuels because it does not receive any further purification. HFO is injected in the internal combustion engine of a ship and after ignition the fumes are driven towards the chimney and released to the atmosphere. These fumes, apart from CO, CH4, NOx and particulates consist also from sulphur-based species, mainly sulphur dioxide (SO2). Sulphur oxides emissions originated from ships is of great importance concerning health and environmental benefits for the world, and especially for populations that live close to ports and coasts. It was estimated that in the year 2000 SO2 emissions from shipping were around threefold greater than that from all road traffic and aviation combined. Sulphur oxides are harmful to human health and in parallel, sulphur oxides (SOx) emitted to the atmosphere, can lead to acid rain, which impacts crops, forests and aquatic species and contributes to the acidification of the oceans.


Impact and Benefits

The successful implementation of SULFAWAY project is expected to shift the interest of the scientific and industrial communities towards the identification of DES solutions as significant extraction solvents for the removal of oxidized S-containing compounds from Heavy Fuel Oil. The market demand of low-sulphur heavy oil fuel alongside with the strict rules that were introduced by IMO since January 2020, drives the need for new, low-cost and effective desulfurization procedures and methodologies. Besides, the proposed methodology is based on eco-friendly, biodegradable and non-toxic natural products that can be used as solvents with the vision to eliminate the use of toxic, cancerogenic organic solvents like DMF or ACN.

Partner - YS Cypriot Catalysts

The company focuses on the development of novel catalysts for passenger cars and the marine industry (CATMAR – SEED/0719/0185), while has already completed a national funded project (REGFILT – CONCEPT/0618/0065) for the regeneration and recycling of diesel particulate filters with the use of DES solutions. The company has expertise in the use of DES solutions and aims to use the knowledge gained from the REGFILT project for the implementation of SULFAWAY project.