Measurement and Testing

  • What is Fuel Oil?

What is Fuel Oil?

Dec 01 2020 Read 551 Times

Created during the petroleum distillation process, fuel oil is a crude by-product used to heat homes, power ships and generate electricity at industrial plants. The product is sold as either a distillate or a residue and is generally burned in a furnace or boiler. Also known as kerosene, coal oil and diesel fuel, the by-product is made up of long hydrocarbon chains, including aromatics, alkanes and cycloalkanes.

The benefits of fuel oil

Clean, stable and high performing, light fuel oil offers a myriad of benefits. As well as being free from sulphur, it’s also a non-explosive product which heightens its safety credentials. Where an open flame would cause an explosion with natural gas or propane, light fuel oil doesn’t have explosive properties. Light fuel oil also performs extremely well in cold weather.

Highly efficient, fuel oil is an affordable and effective way of generating heat and light. The product is easy to use and access which makes it a popular fuel for home heating equipment, including boilers and furnaces. It can also be used to power heaters, stoves, lamps and lanterns. In an industrial context fuel oil is used to generate electric energy and steam. It’s also an efficient fuel for powering mining equipment, as well as farming, agricultural and mining machinery.

HFO ban introduced by International Maritime Organisation

Heavy fuel oil (HFO) is widely used to power commercial vessels, wit the product burned inside the combustion chamber to generate steam. The fuel has a tar-like consistency and while it is an effective way to power ships it’s garnered huge criticism from environmental activists. As a result, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has now banned vessels from burning or using heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters. While the ban is designed to combat climate change in the Arctic region, several prominent environmental groups have slammed the new legislation for its “outrageous” loopholes that will allow ships to continue using HFO.

According to the Clean Arctic Alliance, the IMO has approved “a ban ridden with loopholes on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic (HFO), saying that it would leave the Arctic, its Indigenous communities and its wildlife facing the risk of a HFO spill for another decade.” 

From fuel oil to insecticides, the sulphur content of products produced in refineries is closely monitored. Find out more about the stringent process in ‘Sulphur monitoring in oil refineries Products.’

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