Fuel costs are on the rise again, and while this may not be the biggest-ticket item in a yacht’s operation, fuel efficiency still is a big deal for both private and charter yachts. With a bit more focus on environmental issues, the yachting industry—owners and captains included—has looked for ways to be friendlier to the environment. Solutions have included alternate fuels, hybrid engines combined with new types of propulsion. While several avenues show great promise, none are widely available for the entire superyacht fleet.
Cerion Energy, a company born in 2007 in Rochester, New York, has an answer that is immediately available. The company’s innovative—some have called it breakthrough—product allows captains to improve engine efficiency, thus reducing fuel bills while stretching a yacht’s range and reducing its environmental impact, without making any changes to the engine room. Their answer is a liquid fuel additive nanoparticle catalyst that improves combustion and reduces emissions.
Several yachts tested the efficiency of what Cerion calls the GO2 Diesel Fuel Optimizer, including the wide-roaming McMullen & Wing Big Fish and the 2003 Codecasa Apogee. Early reports show the liquid additive can reduce fuel consumption from 8 to 14 percent and significantly reduce soot and fumes (by as much as 40 percent in terms of soot and up to 70 percent in terms of diesel fumes). The captains who have tested the additive so far have reported visible results with fewer traces of soot on the hull resulting in less maintenance during and after crossings. The product won a DAME design award at the professional METS exhibit in 2011.
Any seasoned captain knows the potential pitfalls of certain fuel additives and no engine manufacturer will endorse their use. However, Cerion has taken the step to thoroughly test their nanoparticle-based catalyst by hiring an independent research company—the Texas-based non-profit Southwest Research Institute. In part because the dosage is very low (one gallon of additive for 4,000 gallons of diesel), the Cerion additive does not significantly change diesel fuel’s key properties, except for increasing its lubricity, so that it continues to meet engine manufacturers’ specifications. Matt Winslow, Cerion’s executive vice president of business development, says that is the only thing the engine manufacturer will want to know. “If the captain asks the engine maker, all they’ll ask is if it changes the fuel properties.”
Cerion, which currently has 45 employees including 10 full-time former Eastman Kodak scientists, has done extensive research and invested heavily in developing applications for diverse markets, including the railroad, oil and gas industries.
While the results are fairly straightforward, the science behind this additive is a bit more complex. The premise is that no matter how good an engine is, none are able to distribute fuel and oxygen evenly. Too much oxygen produces harmful gases, such as NOx. Too little and the combustion is imperfect, leaving unburned particles and hydrocarbons behind. The Cerion additive contains nanoparticles 2.5 nanometers in size that interact with oxygen radicals, causing them to be more evenly distributed in the combustion chamber. This in turn, yields to a fuller combustion that increases the engine’s mechanical efficiency. With a more efficient mechanical response and higher pressure in the combustion chamber, the engine requires less fuel to be injected.
While the yacht can carry the fuel additive aboard, Cerion is working to develop an international network of authorized dealers. Currently, ECOsuperyacht, founded by Richard Franklin, a former superyacht captain with experience in the environmental sector, is the exclusive distributor in Europe.