Elimination of Engine Aftertreatment Key to Cutting Costs

Time is money, uptime is king and engine reliability is non-negotiable. In an environment of growing complexity, the oil and gas industry is looking for ways to drive escalating service and supply costs down. Balancing the scale between engine performance and efficiency can be a tightrope walk, but with the recent leaps in advanced engine technology, the industry has welcomed new cost-cutting innovations, with new system-streamlining technologies on the horizon. Once in market, operators can expect to see maintenance and fuel costs controlled even before a new engine is installed.

Some recent notable engine technology advancements include common rail fuel injection and turbocharging. These key developments have allowed the oil & gas industry to make fundamental improvements in the efficiency and performance of its equipment. Common rail distributes fuel to injectors from a high-pressure fuel rail. The rail’s pressure, included at the start and end of the activation signal, is electronically controlled. This offers flexibility in controlling both the injection timing and rate, and can translate into a 5 percent gain in efficiency in diesel engines. Driven by exhaust gas, turbocharging increases engine performance by compressing the air so that more oxygen flows into the combustion chamber, resulting in higher fuel burn and power output.

Evolving Past Aftertreatment

Since the mid-2000s, diesel engine technology has been evolving to generate more power while running cleaner, and as a result, many became more complex with a number of subsystems, including aftertreatment systems like diesel particulate filters and oxidation catalysts. Now, however, some manufacturers have found ways to achieve Tier 4 compliance without these complex systems. Whether diesel particulate filters or oxidation catalysts, the elimination of aftertreatment saves oil and gas operations time and money.

Streamlined for Safety

Safety is also improved with the removal of aftertreatment. Diesel particulate filters require additional time for the user to complete the regeneration process. Like diesel oxidation catalyst aftertreatment, this in itself is a volatile process, as is any process involving heating a high-risk material. Near oil wells, high temperatures can be considered a serious risk, and, which can compromise safety for operators and equipment and result in unexpected costs. In addition to improvements in operational safety, the elimination of aftertreatment also eliminates related logistics costs, such as stocking catalyst fluid.

A Brighter, Cost-Effective Future

There’s no question that in 2015 and beyond the key for continued cost-savings will be efficiency in maintenance practices. When you can minimize downtime by streamlining your operation and strategically upgrading your fleet, you’ll drive operating costs down and output up. When eighty five percent of maintenance is fuel burn, brute horsepower alone without consideration of other critical factors can bankrupt an operation. Each manufacturer is blazing their own trail, selecting engine configurations that will satisfy their customers as well as federal regulators. This spirit of collaboration between engine manufacturers, distributor service networks and customers will continue to create greater efficiencies for the oil and gas industry, improving everyone’s bottom line.