Smart, automated separation increases onboard efficiency, reducing waste and emissions

01 Feb 2021

Smart, automated separation increases onboard efficiency, reducing waste and emissions

Below deck, separation technology enables key functions, particularly for purifying and treating fuel and lube oil. GEA marine Separators are known for their efficiency, long service and easy maintenance. Now, new digital tools in the form of an upgrade kit allow operators to further automate and optimize separation tasks reducing even more waste, running costs and emissions.

GEA centrifugal separators are some of the hardest working pieces equipment on board. They play a critical role in the purification of fuel and lube oil as well as bilge water treatment. With their high g-force and durable design, GEA separators for the marine industry guarantee excellent performance and safe operation of ship engines, delivering a reliable service life, even under extreme conditions.

Whether managing freighters or cruise ships, commercial fleet operators are faced with meeting ever-increasing regulations and environmental standards, which requires improving the efficiency of their equipment on board to minimize the CO2 footprint of vessels. For years, GEA centrifugal separators have helped owners meet these challenges – as early as the 1920s, when the first Westfalia Separator mineral oil separator was installed on a German schooner.

Automate and optimize several GEA separator applications with the GEA marine Upgrade Kit

The GEA marine Upgrade Kit combines integrated hardware and software packages which are available as retrofit solutions for GEA OSC, OSD and OSE separators and are also compatible options for use with the GEA marine Separator, launched in 2018.

The updated GEA marine Separator is a game-changing solution for several below-deck applications, including purification of fuel and lube oil and bilge water treatment. It offers ease of maintenance, high energy efficiency and results in reduced operating and personnel costs and increased environmental protection. The use of integrated direct drive in a simple to service and compact design delivers more performance per square meter of footprint; it also comes hardwired for smart connectivity. Additional key features include:

  • a "modular exchange drive unit" which is easily exchanged with a factory-overhauled, OEM-certified drive module after 16,000 operating hours (same day delivery to customer’s location of choice)
  • reduced onboard maintenance – by up to 90 percent – ensuring maximum machine availability
  • the highest energy efficiency rate available on today’s market
The GEA marine Separator (left) and GEA OSE Separator (right). Both new and existing GEA separator lines for marine are compatible with the GEA marine Upgrade Kit.

The GEA marine Separator (left) and GEA OSE Separator (right). Both new and existing GEA separator lines for marine are compatible with the GEA marine Upgrade Kit.

The GEA marine Upgrade Kit for separators digitizes functionalities, allowing for the automatization and optimization of several separation processes. The kit uses sensor technology combined with software which triggers functions 24 hours a day. The following four kits are available:

GEA marine FuelGuard

In timer-controlled separation processes, oil loss caused by the imprecise amount of displacement water sent to the bowl is a common occurrence. GEA marine FuelGuard reduces oil loss during separator bowl emptying by volume-based and fully automatic dosing of displacement water, which uses sensor technology connected to the kit software. Based on a fleet of 50 container ships, an operator could expect to save 686 tons of fuel per year, significantly reducing operating costs.

Marine upgrade kit

GEA marine BowlGuard

Usually, oil separation takes place at pre-set time intervals, during which the accumulated sludge volume is discharged. Unfortunately, pre-set time intervals lead to an increased sludge volume, as the possible reserves of the separator bowl are not optimally utilized as it relates to its degree of contamination. GEA marine BowlGuard solves this problem by monitoring the bowl, in addition to the GEA unitrol® system, for the degree of pollution and doubling the discharge intervals under optimal conditions.  This monitoring takes place between regular bowl maintenance intervals (bowl cleaning and seal replacement). The degree of contamination is checked at regular intervals and the separation time is adjusted if necessary. Automation reduces the sludge volume by up to 50 percent and minimizes disposal costs.

The GEA unitrol® system continues to monitor the sludge content during the separation process. If the sludge content is high and the sludge chamber of the bowl is filled before the separation time has elapsed, the solids are discharged earlier.

GEA marine FlowGuard

Given their importance on board, all marine separators run at full capacity even though the actual consumption of a ship engine varies depending on the operation mode. GEA marine FlowGuard software adjusts the flow rate of the separator to the needs of the ship's engines, ensuring on-demand fuel processing, which means only as much fuel is processed as is required by the engines. This automation – thanks to the software and an integrated frequency-controlled feed pump – ensures highly efficient separation, saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions. Based on a calculation of 50 container ships, operators could expect to emit 910 tons less CO2 into the atmosphere.

GEA marine CatfineGuard

Catalytic fines (cat fines) are the hard aluminum and silicon oxide particles found in today’s marine fuels and are very damaging to ship engine components. Using the GEA marine CatfineGuard, these tiny particles – down to three micrometers in size – can be separated out, ensuring maximum fuel quality and reducing machine wear. This is achieved through hot separation via temperatures of up to 110 degrees Celsius and separation efficiency further improved by reducing the flow rate of fuel oil. The software in this kit works hand in hand with the FlowGuard extension – a frequency-controlled feed pump and, if necessary, heat-resistant seals for hot separation – automatically adapting to the real demand of the main engine. The result is energy-saving and cost-efficient separator and motor performance.

The combination of our GEA marine Separator and the GEA marine Upgrade Kit is a critical step in digitizing marine separation functions and paves the way for smart, self-thinking fuel and lube oil treatment.”- Tim Hundertmark, Head of Standard Separation Design, GEA

- Tim Hundertmark, Head of Standard Separation Design, GEA

Quick and easy disk stack cleaning with GEA EffiClean

Regular cleaning remains an important pillar in separator care as it reduces maintenance times, increases centrifuge reliability, availability and efficiency. With GEA EffiClean, cleaning the disc stacks of a marine separator is no longer a laborious, time-consuming or dirty manual task. Disassembling the separator bowl is not required given cleaning takes place directly at the machine, using a highly effective yet environmentally friendly cleaning agent. The process takes just 20 minutes, depending on the level of contamination, reducing the level of effort by up to 95 percent compared to manual cleaning. With its minimal footprint, this mobile unit fit into even the smallest of spaces. The robust stainless-steel construction is designed to withstand demanding on board conditions.

Marine solutions

GEA: your experienced partner on the high seas

GEA heat recovery solutions reduce onboard power consumption and reduce ship emissions. Similarly, the use of natural refrigerants in our cooling solutions help operators meet new guidelines for phasing out synthetic refrigerants, while allowing for lower freezing temperatures. Our marine customers rely on GEA’s skill in project engineering, installation, commissioning and our ability to maintain and improve the performance of their equipment. We’re able to optimize OPEX across a ship’s lifetime given our global network of service, spare parts and engineering know-how.

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