The true cost of oil cleaning for electricity generation D
evelopments in engine design and oil formulations, together with the (:hanging face of the social, economic and political maps, provide a moving target for investors in power p l a n t t h r o u g h o u t Europe. Never before has the selection of the correct oil t r e a t m e n t e q u i p m e n t been as i m p o r t a n t as it is today. Whether p l a n t is running on low-grade residual fuel or light diesel oil, some element of fuel conditioning is required if the engine is to perform at its o p t i m u m level. Variance in t h e density and viscosity of heavy fuel oils m a k e s efficient oil ('leaning impractical in some cases. In turn, small diesel engines are frequently located in inaccessible or confined spaces, where it would be impossible to introduce additional bulky equipment. The result, all too often, has been t h a t fuel conditioning s*ystems are either left idle, or are not even fitted in t h e first place.
The worldwide problem of oil treatment The problem is illustrated admirably with a wide variety of typical e x a m p l e s from both private and government organisaI ions. In I n d o n e s i a , t h e s t a t e utility is e s t i m a t e d to have s o m e 800 engines requiring lube oil separation equipment. During a r e c e n t survey, Alfa Laval's Jakarta office found t h a t many separalion systems were standing idle, because of either a lack of spares or inadequate training being provided. Tanesco, the state utility in Tanzania, has recently been engaged in a rehabilitation p r o g r a m m e for its 24 diesel power stations. Sadly, it looks like the money will run out before adequate separation ss~stems have been commissioned, with the inevitable result t h a t damage will occur to the reconditioned engines within a very short time. Throughout the private market, fuel contaminated with w a t e r causes clogged filters and injectors, which leads to low p o w e r o u t p u t s and r e c u r r e n t engine faults. Effective, low-maintenance treatment to remove c o n t a m i n a n t s from the oil would have a significant effect in reducing these harmful effects, as well as reducing m a i n t e n a n c e costs. Alfa Laval believes t h a t it has addressed t h e s e problems, with the introd u c t i o n of new p r o d u c t s d e v e l o p e d specifically to be b o t h efficient a n d practical in use. The Alcap system has enjoyed considerable success t h r o u g h o u t the world in t h e c l e a n i n g of heavy r e s i d u a l s fuels; while t h e Alfa Laval MMB203, for generators producing u n d e r 2 MW, satisfies the smaller-sized end of
Filtration & Separation
Alfa Laval's Alcap separators clean varying oil types without the need for adjustment.
t h e international industrial market.
'Most cost-effective' may not mean 'cheapest'
The Alcap separator for oil cleaning
A l l too often, expensive p l a n t is left unprotected, simply because there has been insufficient investment in appropriate fuel conditioning equipment. Investors frequently take what they consider to be a wise cost decision, only to find s u b s e q u e n t l y t h a t it was not in fact cost-effective, and t h a t the system actually e m p l o y e d will n o t p e r f o r m as required, or may be unusable by the available labour force. It may unfortunately prove to be an exceedingly expensive option in the long term. Thus the true cost of an oil conditioning system has little to do with its purchase price, as with many o t h e r items of equipment. Experience shows t h a t a wise investment may require a larger i n i t i a l outlay, but, if it m a k e s t h e difference between the e q u i p m e n t lying idle or providing many years of efficient service, it m a k e s p e r f e c t c o m m e r c i a l sense. 
A major advantage of the Alcap system is its ease of use, even when the density, viscosity and t e m p e r a t u r e of t h e oil supply vary significantly. The technology eliminates the traditional gravity disc, which causes frequent alarms and operational problems in ordinary separators. Instead, the water c o n t e n t in the clean oil line is controlled by a t r a n s d u c e r which automatically triggers a discharge of both water and waste, at exactly the right moment. This ease of operation is claimed to be a unique feature of the Aleap system. Its g r e a t e s t benefit is t h a t its simplicity makes it practical, reducing wear and t e a r a n d i n c r e a s i n g t h e efficiency of sophisticated engines.
For smaller-scale applications In its own way, the d i m i n u t i v e MMB203 s e p a r a t o r provides a similar function. Its impressive performance and compact design allow it to be used in t h e most restricted environments. The unit gives the benefit of efficient fuel conditioning to small diesel engines t h a t would otherwise have been left u n p r o t e c t e d in t h e past, helping to give improvements in their performance and extending their operational lifetimes.
0015-1882/95/US$7.00 (c~ 1995 Elsevier Science Lid