Finnish companies develop sulphur scrubbers for ships

Installation of a sulphur scrubber is a major step for reducing harmful emissions from a ship.

Finnish companies Wärtsilä Finland Oy and Metso Power Oy are developing a new sulphur scrubber technology for the cleaning of harmful emissions from ships in the Future Combustion Engine Power Plant (FCEP) research program coordinated by CLEEN Ltd. Installation of a sulphur scrubber on a ship significantly reduces harmful sulphur emissions from ships.


“Depending on the type of vessel, the savings gained by the owner or operator of the ship will be significant. The lifetime of the scrubber can be expected to be in the same region as that of the vessel, about 25 years. In the near future, the repayment period for the investment in a new ship could be between two to three years or even less, depending on a number of factors,” says Ari Suominen. Director, R&D Environment at Wärtsilä Finland Oy.


New sulphur limits increase commercial interest


The new types of hybrid scrubbers have already been in test use since summer 2012 on a vessel owned by the Italian Grimaldi Lines shipping company. The new technology has attracted commercial interest, and Wärtsilä has already signed a contract on the delivery of a hybrid scrubber to a cruise ship. Wärtsilä has also applied for a patent for its new technology.​


The scrubbers can be divided into two different categories: seawater scrubbers and freshwater scrubbers. The seawater scrubber is the first technology to be used on vessels and it is best suited for ocean-going ships. The freshwater scrubber is better suited to an environment like the Baltic Sea. A conventional hybrid scrubber can be operated either with seawater or freshwater, but not with a combination of the two.


The sulphur directive approved by the European Parliament is based on an emission limit, agreed by the International Maritime Organisation IMO, to reduce the acidification impact of exhaust gases from ships in the future. IMO’s new regulations on fuel sulphur contents will concern both new and old vessels. The maximum permitted sulphur content of fuels used in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel in 2015 may be 0.1% instead of the previous 1%, and in other sea areas only 0.5% in 2020, or alternatively in 2025.


Source: CLEEN Ltd