Maritime Sulfur Screening: Fuel Oil Analysis

Marine Pollution (MARPOL) Regulations Compliance with Bruker’s CTX

CTX CounterTop XRF for MARPOL screening

Bruker’s CTX — our self-contained, portable ED-XRF (energy dispersive XRF) spectrometer – is ideal for screening sulfur (sulphur) levels in fuel oil (petroleum). Please contact our product team for more information on how the CTX can serve your sulfur analysis needs.

Acceptable sulfur levels in fuel oil are strictly regulated for environmental reasons, with high penalties for non-compliance. Sea vessels routinely require proof that fuel oil meets the existing norms, in particular the 0.10% m/m sulfur standard requirement imposed by MARPOL’s Annex VI, Regulation 14. It is the responsibility of ship and barge owners to comply. Moreover, compliance matters to fuel inspectors, bunker suppliers, ship operators, and time charters. It is typical of maritime authorities — the enforcers of the regulation — to require a “MARPOL sample” as a part of inspections. In some cases, especially in Emission Control Areas, additional samples are often taken from the engine feed or returning line, in order to verify the active fuel’s compliance.

The existing standards require the use of EDXRF for sulfur screening, namely:

  • ISO 8754-2003 (“Petroleum products -- Determination of Sulfur Content -- Energy-Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) Spectrometry”)
  • ASTM D4249 (“Standard Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum and Petroleum Products by EDXRF Spectrometry”).


Inspectors, bunker suppliers, engineers, and ship staff performing fuel screening and inspections need a convenient analyzer capable of accurate and reproducible sulfur readings, regardless of where or by whom the measurements are taken. Buker’s CTX is the exemplary tool of choice for the job and performs it quickly and easily. Under factory calibration, it measures up to 1000 ppm (0.1%) sulfur, with an error less than ± 100 ppm sulfur, in 30-60 seconds, with a limit of detection (LOD) of 30ppm (3σ) and a limit of quantification (LOQ) of 100ppm (10σ).

Ideal for use in service labs, at supply stations, on docks, in ports, and even on board, the CTX portable, countertop analyzer can be used to:

Compelling reasons in favor of choosing the CTX (500S model) include:

  • Safety-interlocked, self-contained configuration
  • Ready-to-go factory calibrated for sulfur in fuel oil testing
  • Calibration and setup compliant with ASTM D4294
  • Engine includes Rh X-ray tube, SDD detector and SharpBeam™ geometry for top performance, speed, sensitivity
  • Measure to 1000 ppm sulfur with error ≤ ± 90 ppm sulfur in 30 sec
  • LOD (limit of detection) of 30ppm (3σ) with LOQ (limit of quantification) of 100ppm (10σ) under factory calibration
  • Touchscreen operation; wireless communication
  • Non-destructive analysis means tested samples can be retained as required
  • Results are easy to read and understand
  • Immediate result printout with optional Bluetooth™ portable printer
  • Can measure elements from Mg (12) to U (92) in ambient air
  • Operating temperature range from -10°C to +40°C (from 14°F to 104°F)
  • Windows tablet and laptop compatible
  • Store information internally, on a USB memory stick, or on an external computer via USB cable or Wi-Fi
  • Uses a lithium ion battery or an external 120/240V power supply
  • Fitted, secure carrying case for easy transportation in the field and up ladders
  • Shock resistant; will withstand 4 foot drop in the carrying case
  • Weight under 12 kg, including the instrument, all accessories, and the carrying case.

Please contact us without delay with questions, for additional detailed info, or for a price quote.

Along with a laptop and portable printer, recommended accessories for the Bruker CTX include:

  • Quality Control (QC) samples of 1,000ppm S in oil and a 0ppm blank oil for MARPOL sulfur tests
  • Sample cups
  • ETNOM film
  • Protection rings
  • Safety windows
  • Transfer pipettes