Fuel Polishing & Transfer Systems

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Courtesy of AXI International

Earlier this year, Algae-X International came out with a totally new line of Fuel Polishing & Transfer Systems designed and built there in Fort Myers, Florida facilities. By listening to its customers, boat builders and yacht owners alike, Algae-X found out what they wanted to have as an on board fuel optimization package.

The design is modular, so the right system can be chosen for each yacht. Fuel stability in general has not improved in recent years while engines have become much more fuel sensitive. The introduction of ultra low sulfur fuel and the increasing use of bio- fuels have negatively impacted fuel stability and caused a dramatic increase in filter plugging and injection system failures.

The new and innovative SMART FPS systems eliminate & prevent these problems. They eliminate microbial contamination; keep your tanks clean and your fuel in pristine “clear & bright” condition at all times. Traditional fuel treatment focuses on keeping the day tanks clean, but leaves fuel in the bulk tank untreated. With an average 150 running hours for yachts and today’s fuel quality, that constituted an area of opportunity for Algae-X. With their focus on “optimal fuel quality at all times”, they target all tanks on board in order to optimize all fuel and not let fuel degradation advance un- checked in your bulk tanks. Avoiding the well known fuel related engine performance head aches in critical situations as storms, close maneuvering, potentially lower fuel quality at supply points or just being out at sea gives you a com- fort level that really should be so elementary and basic.

The Smart FPS (“Fuel Polishing System”) is available in a number of different configurations, from 300 (DX), 600 (SX), 1.000 (MX), 2.000 (LX) up to 6.000 (XL) liters per hour. The smallest system, Smart FPS-DX runs on 12-24 VDC, the rest on 110-230 VAC. The systems come with either a Racor or a Separ filter/separator, a gear pump and of course with the well known magnetic Fuel Conditioner. From the Smart FPS/MX on up an optional water block fine filter is available. The systems use cast iron heavy duty positive displacement gear pumps, with thermal overload protection on the electric motors for a long system life. The plumbing on the systems is mainly all stainless steel with 37 degree JIC fit- tings, to make for a leak- free operation. The system is mounted on a strong powder coated back plate with drip tray.

All 110-230 VAC systems are fully automated with the SPF-50 Smart Filtration Controller, consisting of a sturdy NEMA approved en- closure measuring 25x 28 x15 cm. A clear front cover protects the controls and alarms and can be closed with a clip. The Siemens Logo inside can be programmed to have the sys- tem run on set times. The status and alarm lights are big enough to read them out across the engine room, or using a remote camera± green means the system is on stand/by, orange that the pump is running and red indicates that a system alarm has occurred. There are built in alarms for high vacuum on the filter- separator, high pressure on the water block fine filter, thermal overload, high water level in the separator and the leak detector in the drip tray. When any of these alarms occur, the alarm sound is heard, the system shuts down and the red light comes on. The actual trigger of the alarm can be read on the display, and after correcting the problem at hand, the system can be put back into action pushing the reset button. On the one had these alarms serve as system protection for the pump, on the other hand they prevent leaks when plumbing or a filter is blocked.

An Algae-X designed water sensor (Watect water alarm) is used on the separator that prevents corrosion of the electrical contacts on the bowl because of the contact of water with electrical current in regular filter alarms.
The SPF-50 comes ready to be connected to a remote monitoring system or the yacht control system. Two standard “normally open” contacts are provided for a summary alarm and leak detection. A remote shutdown connection also exists. The built in system timer can be read-out to determine filter life and system running time. Because the controller uses a non-volatile memory, the settings and memory will not be lost in case of a power failure. The Smart FPS system is connected to the SPF- 50 controller with a variable length cable using fool-proof marine grade polarized plugs. If the system be- comes disconnected from the controller, the system will go into fail-safe shut- down mode.

When reconnected, the system starts up again after pushing the reset button. It is important to install the system such that the suction line is hooked up to the absolute lowest point of each fuel tank. The re- turn will then be on the high side of the tank, as far away from the suction line as possible. The fuel needs to flow back low in the tank as to create a nice flow across the tank bottom, taking with it any water and sediment that might be there. By running the system on every tank once every 2 weeks, recalculating the fuel one time, all tanks can be kept free of water, sediment and micro- organism. The system is installed completely separate from any existing fuel lines so that it can work in parallel to the tanks, basically as a kidney dialysis system in a hospital setting.

This makes the system redundant and allows for full yacht operation even with- out the FPS system running. If you are unsure about the quality of newly purchased “fresh” fuel, it is best to run the system right then and there to treat all new fuel on board. As fuel provided through the system is dry, sediment and micro-organism free, using the system to transfer fuel and fill up the day tanks is highly recommended. Thereby you can save on one fuel transfer pump. To enable an automated operation with multiple tanks, Algae-X is also offering automated manifolds with solenoid valves. These can then be con- trolled on the bridge, but also have a manual override, just in case.

Additional options are for instance water in fuel meters (measuring real time ppm’s free as well as dissolved water in your fuel), digital flow meters and digital vacuum meters for the primary filters as well as touch screen displays and control software to run on the bridge of the yacht. By combining fully automated control and remote monitoring with fuel decontamination, water & sediment removal, the SMART-FPS revolutionizes the world of fuel polishing and transfer systems. It provides a degree of water, sediment and micro-organism removal effectiveness, flow rate and control in relation to foot print, maintenance and price that exceeds all prior traditional equipment.

This article first appeared in Via Mare-By The Sea Magazine December 2009. Rob Verhoof, with a M.Sc. in engineering, worked for 9 years for Siemens A.G. in the Americas and Germany, 6 years in tooling in Mexico and the Netherlands and joined Algae-X Europe early 2008. Throughout his career he has focused on the way companies can deliver what their customers want in a more innovative and efficient manner.

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