Converting Heating Sources

New York City will be converting heating sources. By law, burning of Number 6 fuel oil will phased out in the very near future. Should you wait until the last minute until making the switch to cleaner fuel oil in your own building? Does it make sense to do it now, or do it later?

Daniel Karpen wrote, “The fact is that the sooner you phase out Number 6 fuel oil, the more money you will save. There are several ways of phasing out Number 6 fuel oil. An easy way is to tell your fuel oil company that you want to burn the Number 6 fuel oil that you have in the tank until it is almost empty, pump out the remaining Number 6 fuel oil, resell it then clean the tank, and fill it up with Number 2 fuel oil. You would then disconnect the heater for the Number 6 fuel oil, set up the fuel pump to run only when the burner is running, and change the burner nozzle and replace the fuel filter. You could also do any other work that your service technician recommends at the time.” (Phasing Out No. 6 Fuel Oil A Case Study for Conversion)

Both residual and distillate fuel oils are liquid fuels derived from petroleum. In the United States there are six grades of fuel oil, numbered 1 through 6. The lower the number, the lighter the fuel is, with lower boiling point, viscosity and energy content per gallon. No. 1 through No. 4 fuel oil grades are considered to be distillate fuels, while No. 5 and No. 6 fuel oils are considered residual fuels. No. 5 residual fuel is not burned in heating systems in New York City. No. 4 oil is a mixture (50/50mix) of No. 2 heating oil and No. 6 residual fuel. Heavy residual oils are so viscous that they are solid at room temperature and must be kept in heated storage tanks.

The distillate grades typically used in boilers include No. 2 fuel oil and No. 4 fuel oil. The residual grades used for heating system boilers include both No. 5 and No. 6 fuel oil. Compared with residual fuels, distillate fuels are more expensive per gallon but they are much cleaner, i.e., they produce significantly lower emissions of NOx, PM and SO2 when burned in a boiler.

Conventional #6 fuel oil is a mixture of the heavy residual oil left after the lighter components of crude oil are removed through a refining process, which is then blended with lighter oils to meet specifications for viscosity, pour point, and API gravity [775].

Like fuel oil #6, LAPIO (Low-API gravity oils) is a blend of heavy and light oil, but it generally contains more of the heavier components. Therefore, LAPIO could be considered as a very heavy #6 fuel oil [775]. Additional Details about LAPIO:

The following table shows the level of PM and NOx produced from natural gas and fuel oil grade #2, #4, and #6. The figures in the table have been derived from the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, United States Environmental Protection Agency, AP-42, Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors, Volume I: Stationary Point and Area Sources (5th ed. 1995), using the latest emission factors published by the Environmental Protection Agency in supplements to that volume – the May 2010 supplement for fuel oil and July 1998 supplement for natural gas.

Phasing Out No.-6 Fuel Oil

*A standard unit of measurement that provides a basis for comparing the energy content of various grades of natural gas and other fuels. It represents one million British Thermal Units.

The table shows that the emissions levels from the use of cleaner burning fuels, such as #2 fuel oil and/or natural gas, are significantly lower than the emission levels from the use of #4 and #6 fuel oil, unless there are emission controls or changes made to the fuel. The New York City Community Air Survey found higher levels of air pollutants such as PM, NOx, and nickel in 3 neighborhoods with many boilers that use #4 and #6 fuel oil. In neighborhoods with high densities of boilers that use #4 and #6 fuel oil, the survey found and 4 times the concentrations of nickel in fine particles as compared to neighborhoods with a low density of such boilers.

See New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene “New York City Community Air Survey: Results from Winter Monitoring 2008-2009”, December 2009. Degradation of air quality due to emissions from boilers using #4 and #6 fuel oil is especially great in densely populated neighborhoods where such boilers are the most prevalent. These rules therefore will decrease the levels of harmful pollutants emitted into the air and inhaled by many people.

In April 2011, New York City adopted a new heating oil regulation requiring owners of nearly 10,000 buildings to phase-out the use of #6 and #4 heating oil.

Existing boilers must switch from #6 oil to a cleaner fuel before their current permits expire starting in 2012 and no later than 2015. By 2030, existing boilers, not yet replaced, must be modified to meet the equivalent emissions of burning clean #2 oil or natural gas. Newly installed boilers must only burn clean No. 2 oil, natural gas or its emission equivalent.

Only 1% of the city’s buildings use #6 oil, but they generate 85% of the soot pollution. The NYC Health Department says this regulation could improve air quality, and reduce negative health effects like aggravated asthma and respiratory symptoms, preventing 200 deaths annually.

Should you just switch to # 4 oil in the interim? Each building is different. You can comply with your building’s deadline by switching to low-sulfur # 4 oil, perhaps requiring only an oil tank cleaning and removal of the side-arm pre-heater, and a few other minor changes.

Converting heating sources from #6 oil to an alternate fuel should be professionally evaluated by an independent consultant and implemented by an experienced licensed installer. The process of switching from #2 oil is similar to that of #4 but with #2 oil you may be required to either clean, repair or replace the oil tank, depending on the results of a leakage or tightness test. You may also have to make minor changes to the oil pumping system.

Your fuel costs will increase with #4 or # 2 Oil, but not as much as you think. You can also stay flexible with a dual fuel option, and have the ability to alternate between #2 oil and natural gas.
Current #6 users who choose to switch to #4 will have to move to a 1500 ppm sulfur #4 blend consisting of 40% #6 oil and 60% ULSD (15ppm # 2) [by October 1, 2012]. This change will increase the net fuel costs to former #6 users by $0.55/gallon based on historical average price spreads.

It is clean in the several articles sited throughout this message that the sooner you switch over from #6 heating oil to #2 the sooner you start saving money, decreasing your carbon footprint, and improving air quality, but how do you do in and is there different options. The answer is yes, the options are:

Manned Entry: Manned entry is just that, fuel is pumped out and a person physically enters the tank squeegees out the sludge that is contained within the tank including the side walls, then the tanks is flushed out with either high pressure water, diesel fuel, or a chemical that breaks down oil, this depends on the company that is preforming the service then pumped out, pressure tested and refilled.

Filter Flush: For #6 fuel oil the fuel is pumped out then a solvent like #2 is added (No. 2 fuel oil is a common blending agent, used to reduce the viscosity of conventional #6 fuel oils. Because #2 fuel oil (which is a good solvent for many blended residual fuel oils) is used as the cutter stock, #6 fuel oils are usually well-blended mixtures that are stable during long-term storage and do not tend to separate when spilled [775].) and the Tank is continually flushed and filtered with #2 breaking down the #6. The tank is then pumped out and refilled.

Both methods work it just comes down to access, cost, and safety. The filter flush method is idea for situations like New York City where access to the tank is minimal, space it at a premium, and the buildings are physically built on top of the tanks, so this make manned access almost impossible.

Since 1986, Clean Fuels has been filtering fuel and cleaning fuel tanks for boats/Ships, hospitals, military institutions, schools, oil companies and businesses small or large. Clean Fuels is a Service Disabled Veteran owned Small Business that is committed to customer satisfaction and environmental protection.

With our patented process we are able to convert fuel tanks that currently burn #6 oil to #2 without manned entry and with minimal access points. Our process substantially decreases the size of the staging area as well as the amount of equipment needed to complete the job. CleanFuels also works to sell the fuel on you behalf to make the switch as economically viable as possible.

Clean Fuels would be happy to meet with you at your earliest convenience to show you our process and how we can save you a substantial amount of money.