Sheep's wool – a big break for oil cleaning

GreenOil worked with Maersk Line to develop an oil filter, which after proving its worth is being installed on the Triple-E vessels. Sheep’s wool is now poised for commercial success.

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Developing the product, GreenOil discovered that sheep's wool made an extremely good filter because it has a rougher surface than the synthetic fibre commonly used for filters, thus enhancing its filtering ability.

“We needed a partner to test our prototype. Maersk Line did that and gave us feedback, and that has helped us win a market-leading position,” says CEO at GreenOil, Hans Lund.

“We were familiar with this type of system, but we want to be challenged and are keen to be part of the process. The easiest thing is to continue doing what we’ve always done, but we want to keep improving,” says Jeppe Storm, Fleet Superintendent at Maersk Line.

Storm and Lund have worked together for a long time. The partnership which began in 2007 between GreenOil, a small Danish engineering company, and Maersk Line has reached a preliminary high point, as GreenOil’s oil filters are now being installed on all Triple-E vessels.

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Working with Maersk Line has made the process faster and more direct, because they have a level of knowledge and facilities that few others can match.

HANS LUND, CEO AT GREENOIL

Developing the product, GreenOil discovered that sheep’s wool made an extremely good filter because it has a rougher surface than the synthetic fibre commonly used for filters, thus enhancing its filtering ability. Nobody else used it. When looking to remove the water from the oil, they also found a new approach which involved heating only the water and not the oil, cutting energy consumption drastically. They took a patent on the latter.

“Working with Maersk Line has made the process faster and more direct, because they have a level of knowledge and facilities that few others can match. We have been able to inspire each other and I hope it does not end here. We want to continue developing the products further and meet the demand of the industry in coming years,” Hans Lund says.

Less maintenance

When GreenOil was established ten years ago, the mission was to make a better offline oil filter for vessels, first removing particles and then water from the oil, making the oil almost as good as new.

The principle is simple: any piece of machinery has moving parts. Oil helps them to move properly. In addition to the main engine, a vessel has many smaller oil reservoirs, e.g. for the steering mechanism, gearboxes and hydraulic cranes – up to 15 on large container vessels. Instead of changing the oil every so often, an offline oil filter that runs independently of the machine can keep the oil clean, thus avoiding unnecessary wear.

The offline system runs its own cycle, cleaning the oil around the clock. Even if the machine, such as a crane on a vessel, is only in use every 14 days, its oil is kept clean and effective. This means less frequent oil changes, and more importantly an extended lifetime of the essential components in the machinery.

“We put offline filters on the cranes on the WAFMAX vessels after they had been in service for a year, and the number of particles in the oil dropped dramatically. Of course, those vessels call at West African ports where there are not many options for service, and so this will surely increase reliability,” Storm says.

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"We put offline filters on the cranes on the WAFMAX vessels after they had been in service for a year, and the number of particles in the oil dropped dramatically," says CEO at GreenOil, Hans Lund.