Fuel Quality Testing

Sulphur Cap 2020 implications 

Total Base Number, InfraRed assessment, ICP Analysis and Viscosity

Driven by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the marine industry is currently going through important and significant environmental changes through a reduction in sulphur content of marine fuel from 3.5% to 0.5%. To fulfil this new requirement, stakeholders in the industry are debating and considering the merits of alternative fuels, different engine equipment and configurations as well as advances in scrubber cleaning technology. Fuels and lubricants both come into contact with engine systems so any changes that occur will have an even wider impact on marine vessel equipment. To minimise the impact of any negative consequences it is important to manage this change effectively.

During the combustion cycle, Sulphur in the fuel is released forming SO2 (Sulphur Dioxide) and some of this forms SO3 (Sulphur Trioxide).  Water contained within the scavenging air and from the combustion process reacts to form Sulphuric Acid. It is important, therefore, to monitor and control any negative and potentially damaging effects of acidity and alkalinity.

In built mechanisms in the form of oil additives are designed to improve the lubricant performance of the base oil. The choice of additives is determined by the specific application. For the 2020 change, alkalinity additives (like Calcium Carbonate) will be useful to combat oil acidity.


Our range of additional tests


Test Technique Basic Relevance
Total Acid Number Acid / Base Titration Acidity of oil, oxidation
Total Base Number Acid / Base Titration Alkalinity of oil, depletion of additives
Viscosity Kinematic viscosity Breakdown of lubricant protective capability
Additive Metals Atomic Emission  Spectroscopy Depletion of additives
Oxidation Infra Red Spectroscopy Oxidation of oil, high temperatures, increased acidity