The use of scrubbers on passenger ships – especially in the ferry sector – has rapidly increased following IMO’s decision last October to implement the 2020 global sulphur cap
IMO’s confirmation last October to implement 2020 as the date for its 0.5% global sulphur cap has led to more scrubber demand from the passenger ship market.
CR Ocean Engineering (CROE) president and chief operating officer Nicholas Confuorto told Passenger Ship Technology “Last year was very quiet in terms of scrubber orders. But once the IMO decision was made, people started to take action.”
Yara Marine Technologies chief sales and marketing officer Kai Latun was also in agreement. “In general the market is much more active due to the decision in IMO,” he said. “There has been a very large uptake in demand.”
This is something especially seen in the ferry sector, Mr Latun said, as the cruise industry has been an early adopter of scrubbers. “The cruise industry is financially stronger than many other segments, and – relative to the cost of a cruise vessel – a scrubber is a fairly small investment.”
The ferry industry has been slower to adopt the technology and those operators that have done so tend to be northern European operators. But this has changed due to the 2020 global sulphur cap, Mr Latun said, pointing out how interest in scrubbers has now spread to ferry operators based in the Mediterranean.
And he predicted more interest in scrubber technology among passenger ship operators in China. “China is moving to the forefront of environmental consciousness and setting an example to other parts of the world, despite coming from a much worse starting point in pollution,” Mr Latun commented.
Yara’s latest passenger ship contracts include Saga Cruises’ newbuild Spirit of Discovery, which is being built by Meyer Werft in Germany and due for delivery in 2019, and the retrofitting of a scrubber system on MSC’s MSC Splendida by Italy’s Fincantieri. It has also fitted a scrubber to MSC Fantasia, as well as to Norwegian Cruise Line’s vessels; Jewel, Pearl, Jade and Jem.
Over on the ferry side, Yara has fitted scrubbers to Brittany Ferries’ Normandie, Barfleur and Cap Finisterre vessels. Mr Latun said that the company was particularly proud of the installation on Cap Finisterre because it is operating under “very severe conditions”. The ferry starts its journey in Spain so has its scrubbers switched off due to being outside the North Sea and Baltic SECA But once in the English Channel they are turned on while the ship is at full speed. “You can hardly imagine worse operating conditions as they are turned off and on and are at full-speed so we are very proud that they have our scrubbers operating perfectly,” Mr Latun said.
Meanwhile, CR Ocean Engineering delivered a large order for Royal Caribbean – which marks its first entry into the cruise ship market. Seven cruise ships across the Millennium and Radiance classes have had its scrubbers installed, most of which are in operation and the rest were being commissioned at the time of writing in late September. That work involves certification checks before they go into full service.
CR Ocean Engineering is also fitting four scrubbers on Stena Line’s Scandinavica and in 2015 and 2016 installed four scrubbers on two of its roro vessels.
For the past few years, CR Ocean Engineering dedicated a team to focus on the scrubbing system’s automating and controls. “It is already significantly automated but we are looking at making it even more automated. We want to make it simpler for operators,” explained Mr Confuorto.
He singled out one example: the company is considering a request from a vessel operator to connect the scrubbers’ start-up and shut-down directly to the main engines’ operation so that operators do not have to initiate its start/stop routine by pressing additional buttons. Mr Confuorto commented “This is doable, the automation already exists in our system and registers the engine signals, we just have to make the connection active so that the scrubbers start and stop based on these signals.”
This will take away the risk of someone forgetting to turn on the scrubber (leading to illegal exhaust gas emissions) and could lead to wasted energy by continuing to pump water through a scrubber that should have been turned off. “It takes the decision from a person’s hands and means that it will run at optimal performance,” he said.
He warned that operators need to act now if they want to have a scrubber installed in time for January 2020. “If they don’t have a shipyard visit booked before then, they need to act fast.”
He said that the company was seeing a number of proposals to combine a scrubber retrofit into already-planned work to complete all the work in a single drydocking.
Snapshot CV Nick Confuorto (CROE)
Nicholas Confuorto is the president and chief operations officer for CR Ocean Engineering. He is also a founding member and the chairman of the Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association. Since receiving his engineering degree from Columbia University in 1976, Mr Confuorto has focused his career in the field of environmental controls and has held high level positions at some of the most respected corporate names in the global air pollution controls industry.
Scrubbers pose corrosion concerns
Scrubbers “face extremely harsh conditions” when it comes to corrosion, Yara Marine Technologies chief sales and marketing officer Kai Latun told Container Shipping & Trade.
“Some of the earlier scrubbers may not be up to the corrosion challenges and I am afraid that the scrubber industry may see some noise around that,” he commented. Those early installations may have used cheaper materials that were more susceptible to corrosion, he explained.
Highlighting the challenge, he said that in 2012 Yara placed test strips of “even quite sophisticated” materials in the scrubber system installed on a crise . After only a few thousand operating hours, the strips were sent off for corrosion testing and traces of corrosion were found. The system itself has been working fine with no corrosion damage since the installation, he added. (The system itself was built in hastelloy and has been working fine with no corrosion damage since the installation.
“The basis for us is not to compromise on materials,” Mr Latun said, pointing out that a scrubber needs to last the lifetime of the ship so Yara’s scrubbers are made from a very tough high nickel alloy that won’t corrode.
New scrubber company enters cruise market
A company that has traditionally manufactured highly specialised filtration components has now developed exhaust scrubbers.
Denmark-headquartered LiqTech International has announced two orders for its marine scrubber water treatment systems, but has not revealed who its customers are. However, its vice president of sales, Kenneth Højrup Johansen, did reveal that the orders are for use on cruise ships. These two most recent orders follow a series of orders totalling several hundred thousand dollars that the company received between April and June of this year.
As for the technology, Mr Johansen told Passenger Ship Technology that the company’s water filtration components for scrubber systems are based on LiqTech’s proprietary use of silicon carbide. Using nanotechnology, its process recrystalises the compound to produce strong and relatively high-capacity liquid membrane technology for filtering out particles smaller than a 1 μm.
This technology, Mr Johansen said, sets LiqTech apart from older filtration systems. In the past, he said, centrifuge separators have been used in which the separation principle is based on different densities in the media. “The system we have developed – a membrane solution – is a mechanical system … The pore sizes we apply in our systems are significantly lower than what can be achieved by separator solutions. In our opinion, that provides a more consistent and uniform treatment of the discharge water."