Twin Caterpillar C-18 marine diesels
burning bio fuel
Caterpillar engineers have been burning the proverbial midnight oil
researching how to burn alternative fuel in marine diesels. Doubtlessly
youíve noticed how over the past few years diesel prices have skyrocketed,
with the cost per liter in Europe doubling between 2003 and 2005.
Along with the bad there is some good news. Salvation may be found by
burning alternative fuels like B30 Biodiesel, which is a blend of 30 %
Biodiesel and 70% regular mineral diesel.
Compared to conventional mineral diesel fuel refined from Brent light or
Arabian sweet crude, Biodiesel boasts a higher cetane rating. Cetane is to
diesel what octane is to gas. A number that refers its quality. Another
plus. Biodiesel burns cleaner. So engines run more smoothly and without that
characteristic loud clatter of a diesel motor. Cold weather performance is
On the environmental side of the balance sheet burning Biodiesel
substantially reduces toxic exhaust emissions into the air: nasty things
like unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. And
because it contains naturally occurring oxygen, Biodiesel burns more
completely, all but eliminating the cloud of black smoke associated with
diesel engines. Because Biodiesel is produced from vegetable oil,
greenhouse gas emissions created in the combustion chamber are counter-
balanced by the amount of greenhouse gas absorbed from the air above the
cultivated fields where the vegetables were grown in the first place. With
all these things going for it, it should come as no big surprise to learn
experts agree Biodiesel blends are better for the environment.
Then are also certain financial benefits. Depending on when and where the
locale fuel dock is situated, boaters could potentially save up 50% of their
fuel bill with B30. After the 2008 tax increases on regular diesel in the
UK, Biodiesel is expected to be available at the price of regular diesel.
Thatís the theory, at least. To test the hypothesis Caterpillar Marine and
Horizon powered a 20 meter motor yacht with twin Catģ C18 engines running
on, you guessed it: B30 Biodiesel. Neither the boat nor the engine
received any modifications. For the record, the electronically-controlled
C18s displace 18.1 Liters and are rated 1000 horsepower at 2300 rpm. Also
important to note, this six-cylinder block boasts an enviable reputation for
durability and low emissions even with mineral based diesel fuel.
Fuel was pre blended before topping off the Horizon tanks. Pre-blending
insured fuel flowing to the twin engines was B30 at all times. Consistency
matters when trying to prove a point by scientific method. After logging
considerable hours touring the coast of Southern England test results showed
the C18 Biodiesel engines performed identically with conventional mineral
diesel. Which is to say the motors ran reliability were fuel efficient and
the exhaust was virtually smokeless. Neither was smoke visible when starting
cold engines. Best top speed with both the conventional and the B30
Biodiesel fuels was 24.4 knots.
According to a Caterpillar Marine spokesperson, most of its existing marine
diesel engines are capable of burning up to 30% of Biodiesel without
modification. Although the condition of seals and hoses made of elastomers
on older engines should be monitored regularly because some of the fuel
additives can cause them damage. Newer components donít suffer that malady. and shorter fuel filter change
intervals. Consult your local dealership for guidance.
When burning B30, the Cat C18s require the same maintenance intervals as
engines burning regular marine diesel. In other words, standard maintenance
procedures are required either once per year, every 250 service hours or
about every 3500 gallons of fuel consumed, whichever comes first. Other Biodiesel blends exist, such as B20 which is popular in the United States.
Depending on the particular Biodiesel blend, Cat marine diesel engines may
require shorter oil change intervals
Horizon's Bio Diesel 20-Meter
Both Horizon Motor Yachts UK, and Caterpillar Marine Power Systems, predict
both growing demand in Biodiesel, and naturally it follows a growing demand
in motor yachts capable of burning Biodiesel. For that reason every new
marine Caterpillar engine model will be compatible with Biodiesel blends.
Existing Caterpillar engines are both US EPA and EU certified running on
commercially available fuels, which includes Biodiesel.
Caterpillar C-18 Marine Diesel
headquarters located in Hamburg, Germany and a service network numbering
more than 2,100 dealer locations worldwide, the Cat product line offers main
propulsion engines from 93 to 7,200 kW, auxiliary engines from 162 to 5,420 kWe, and generator sets from 11 to 5,200 kWe.
Copyright 2008 Tim Banse
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