Talking Tech with Alfa Laval

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

07 November 2016


ShipInsight asked René Diks, Manager Marketing & Sales, Exhaust Gas Cleaning Alfa Laval for some opinion on the possible impact for the reduction from 3.5% to 0.5% in the global cap. ShipInsight. What do you see as the potential market size for scrubbing systems both in terms of retrofits and newbuilding installations? RD. For the newly introduced PureSOx Global (0.5%S compliance) and the PureSOx Flex (both 0.5%S and 0.1%S compliance) both retrofit and newbuilding installations will be interesting markets. Today around 300 vessels are sailing with exhaust gas cleaning systems, mainly for the ECA areas. Alfa Laval believes that the retrofit market for the PureSOx ECA systems will become smaller in the coming years, however for newbuilding vessels this will remain an interesting product. ShipInsight. Given that shipowners may soon be faced with the prospect of installing both a ballast water treatment system and a scrubber, with one being mandatory and the other not, would this affect your opinion of market capacity? RD. As Ballast Water Treatments are mandatory, there will not be a payback time. For exhaust gas cleaning systems there will always be a payback time. Alfa Laval’s systems are designed to meet a Return on Investment of only 3 years. If there is such an interesting business case, vessels owners will invest in an exhaust gas cleaning system. ShipInsight. Of the various options that are available, most scrubber makers appear to have opted for wet systems. Does this mean that other technologies have no future? RD. Alfa Laval has over seven years of experience with the wet scrubbing technology in PureSOx systems and over 40 years of experience with wet scrubbing in Inert Gas systems. Wet scrubbing as such is not as easy as it might seem to be these days. Alfa Laval went through a steep learning curve where we have experienced sensor issues, corrosion issues, extensive program to develop water cleaning technology before PureSOx turned out to be a proven solution. There are several other technologies in the market in a very early development stage so it’s unclear if these will offer benefits compared to wet scrubbing. ShipInsight. What will differentiate the makers of scrubbers if they are all using the same basic technology? RD. It’s all about experience and reliability. With over 60 vessels sailing with Alfa Laval PureSOx we have faced many challenges. It’s important to closely work together with customers to find the best solutions to overcome these challenges. All our systems are customised to the vessel and its sailing profile: all our projects start with a ship visit to determine the locations of equipment and together with our customer we find the best configuration and scrubber design. Not only do we have seven years of experience with PureSOx; part of the system is Alfa Laval core technology. The PureSOx water cleaning unit is based on the separator technology that will be celebrating its 100th birthday this year. As a big organisation we are experienced in project management. All projects have a dedicated project manager and a project team consisting of experts in mechanics, process and electro. ShipInsight. Is there a limit to how compact scrubbers can get and in your opinion what is the smallest vessel size that could accommodate a scrubber? RD. There is a limit to how compact scrubbers can get as a certain water capacity is required to remove the SOx from the exhaust gas. However, Alfa Laval is continuously developing the system, in order to reduce this size. Recently the U-design has seen a major size reduction with the jet being 26% smaller and the absorber 17%. In general you could say that the smallest vessel sizes that could accommodate a scrubber have a main engine of 2-3 MW. Alfa Laval has experience with 4 vessels in this particular range. ShipInsight. Owners may be concerned over the size of scrubbers and the time taken to install them. What can be done to minimise both and what do you feel is the shortest time for installation that is feasible? RD. The space available to install a scrubber is very different on every vessel. Alfa Laval always inspects the vessel to determine the actual locations of the equipment and has seen many different setups. Many customers think that the inline scrubber design is always the best choice when considering space. Alfa Laval agrees that this might be right when the funnel casing is big enough. However, we see on many vessels that this funnel is not big enough or that combining multiple sources (engines, boilers) in one u-design scrubber saves a lot of space compared to the inline. When it comes to installation of the U-design or I-design scrubbers, both scrubbers can be assembled on shore at the yard and we have seen many examples where a fully new scrubber house has been created, that was just hoisted on the vessel in the yard, saving many days of installation. The shortest installation we have seen was 10 days. There is quite a lot of difference in yard quality. It’s important to select a yard that’s able to handle a scrubber installation. Although scrubbers might be seen as a commodity product by many customers (which we don’t agree with), we see huge differences in a yard’s capabilities to understand the product and installation of it. The installaShipInsight. Aside from the installation of the blending unit itself, what adaptations to existing equipment could be needed? ShipInsight. Assuming that most elements of a scrubbing system will be installed in the funnel casing, what components will need to be installed elsewhere? RD. Probably the biggest element of the system is the scrubber that’s installed in the funnel or close to it. The open-loop system is fairly simple and consists, next to the scrubber, only of pumps, monitoring equipment and electrical cabinets. This equipment will be placed low in the vessel. The closed-loop or hybrid system consists of these same components and a plate heat exchanger, circulation tank and a water cleaning unit. These components are also installed low in the vessel, to reduce the impact on stability of the vessel. ShipInsight. Later this year the IMO will consider the consultant’s report on low-sulphur fuel availability and may decide on a 2020 or 2025 start date for the reduction in the global cap to 0.5%. Do you have a view on which will be the most likely date? RD. Looking at recent communications in the media it would most likely be 2020 as the starting date for the global cap. On the 14th of July, Alfa Laval announced to be ready for this global cap. No matter if legislation will be enforced in 2020 or 2025, we believe it is important to learn from early installations, both as supplier, as customer and as a yard. ShipInsight. It has been suggested that if refiners are in a position to supply enough low-sulphur fuel, they may consider that supplying HFO as well is not viable. Would you care to comment on this especially with regard to the effect it would have on scrubber take-up? RD. HFO is not only used in the marine industry, especially for power plants a lot of HFO is still used and will be used. So we believe that HFO will be produced, so also remain available for customers using a scrubber. ShipInsight. To what extent will a scrubber impact on any NOx after treatment system that may be installed on a vessel? Do you see any possibility for a combined system that deals with all current exhaust emission regulations? RD. There are two ways to comply with the NOx legislation: either by exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) or by Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). One of the components of an EGR system is a scrubber. This scrubber already removes a part of the SOx from the exhaust gas, however not enough to be in compliance. Should you combine this EGR system with a PureSOx exhaust gas cleaning system, then the positive impact of this combination is that your PureSOx scrubber can be much smaller as the amount of SOx to be removed is much lower than without an EGR system. The other option, combining an SCR with a PureSOx exhaust gas cleaning system, has been tested in our Test & Training Center in Aalborg, Denmark. In this engine room on land we have seen that this combination is working well. ShipInsight. Would such a system also be useful in preventing PM emissions or reducing CO2? RD. It would be useful in preventing PM emissions, as the PureSOx exhaust gas cleaning system removes up to 80% of the particulate matter (PM). For reducing CO2, would also have a positive impact, although this is in an indirect way: the refinery process of creating low sulphur fuel creates an additional 10% of CO2. So by sailing on HFO there is no 10% additional CO2 penalty. ShipInsight. On the subject of the latter, presumably scrubbers require power for operation. What is this requirement and will it have a major impact on the economic argument for scrubbers once the global cap comes in and the system may be needed to operate constantly? RD. Exhaust gas cleaning system require power for operation, for PureSOx this is about 0.7 – 1.5% of the engine power. It is important to take this into consideration when making up a Return-on-Investment calculation (ROI). The Alfa Laval PureSOx products are designed to meet an ROI of a maximum of 3 years.