Fuel Quality Testing
Catalytic fines, or cat fines, have been known to cause abrasive wear in engines. In fact, the first sample analyzed by VPS when the company started in 1981, represented a fuel containing a high level of abrasive cat fines.
Catalysts are used in the refinery process for catalytic cracking. They are very hard and cause abrasive wear, primarily in the two-stroke engines, if not removed in the treatment system onboard (settling, filtration and centrifuging).
If allowed to enter the engine, the result is likely to be high wear rates on cylinder liners and piston rings, and in some cases even the fuel pump performance is jeopardized.
Studies have indicated that not only the cat fines concentration but also the size of the cat fines plays a part in the wear process.
As the first commercial method of its kind, Catfines (Al+Si) Size Distribution (CSD) screening tool specifically looks at the cat fines size range in a given fuel.
The method is useful for evaluating whether the onboard fuel separation process has been efficient in removing cat fines in all size ranges. The CSD adds an extra dimension to the Fuel System Check and has proven useful, especially, in trouble shooting cases.