Vaporsafe Unit From MNI Means Safe Engine Operation Anywhere On The Barge

The hazards of transporting cargoes via barge on the nation’s inland waterways demand that operators turn a keen eye toward safety, particularly with regard to fire safety. For tank barge operators, according to U.S. Coast Guard regulations, this affects the placement of electronically controlled pump engines aboard tank barges, mostly engines placed within hazardous locations with certification requirements such as Class 1, Division 1 (C1D1) on barges.

The Coast Guard classifies C1D1 areas as within 10 feet of a cargo tank vent outlet, cargo tank ullage opening, cargo pipe flange or cargo valve. The concern is over the possibility of electrical ignitions for pump engines causing a spark and igniting a fire.

Fortunately, operators seeking a safe solution to placing an electronically-controlled diesel barge pump engine within hazardous areas on tank barges now have an answer with the VaporSafe Barge Auxiliary Power Unit, a product from MNI Diesel that features a family of Caterpillar Marine Auxiliary Tier-3 engines and explosion proof protection technology from Miretti.

“Basically this gives a client the freedom to put any Caterpillar Tier-3 engine anywhere on the barge they want, go back to a 4-foot driveline, and it meets all the Coast Guard requirements for being an intrinsically safe and explosion proof diesel-fueled pump engine,” said Harry Lartigue Jr., vice president and chief operating officer for Houston-based MNI Diesel.

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MNI unveiled the VaporSafe unit in November. Lartigue called the freedom to place the barge pump anywhere a “game changer” due to the limited space available on barges.

“This gives [barge builders] an option and flexibility on design,” Lartigue said. “Real estate on a barge is at a premium. A huge benefit is that barges that were downgraded to anything less than Grade A can now regain their Grade A status. This allows the barges in a fleet to be more flexible and opens additional contracting opportunities.”

Lartigue said MNI’s VaporSafe Barge Auxiliary Power Unit is the only system on the market that’s fully certified as an electronically-controlled, intrinsically safe and explosion-proof marine auxiliary engine, the two Coast Guard requirements for placing engines within hazardous C1D1 areas on the barge.

“We take the Caterpillar engine and add the explosion-proof technology and certifications through our partnership with Miretti to meet the certification requirements,” Lartigue explained.

Explosion-proof components built into the VaporSafe unit include the sealed electronics control and display panel, the 12 volt battery enclosure with battery, a non-sparking engine fan and the unit’s alternator.

Bypass Oil Filtration System

VaporSafe isn’t the only innovative product MNI markets to the towboat and barge industry. The company also offers the puraDYN bypass oil filtration system, which drastically reduces oil change intervals, reduces wear and tear on engines and extends engine life.

The puraDYN filtration system does three things: it removes solid contaminants down to less than a micron in size, it removes liquid contaminants and water, and it replenishes base additives. Lartigue pointed out that puraDYN is the only oil bypass system that actually replenishes filtered engine oil with additives.

The result makes a huge difference in efficiency, engine and oil life, and the bottom line for the vessel operator. According to MNI, the puraDYN system will extend engine life by anywhere from 25 percent to more than 100 percent. The system also means up to 90 percent reduction in oil changes, which leads to a reduced cost in oil purchase and storage and reduced environmental impact. Rather than changing oil at OEM suggested intervals, operators periodically take oil samples for analysis and replace the puraDYN filter. As long as oil is up to specifications, no change is needed.

The system is relatively small, Lartigue said, and can be added to any engine system.

“This can be added to an existing vessel or incorporated into a new vessel,” Lartigue said. “It’s a very simple installation—probably only four bolts and two lines.”

Lartigue said MNI has been marketing the puraDYN system for about eight years, and he’s seeing the product take off in the maritime industry. He mentioned multiple major companies that are putting the puraDYN system on all existing and new vessels, with others adding it at major maintenance intervals. Lartigue said companies using the puraDYN system will see the benefits and experience cost savings in no time. The return on investment is typically after the first or second change extended.

“If you have a fleet of up to 50 boats, the savings are in the millions,” he said.