Online monitoring for transparency, compliance and performance
Chris Daw, managing director of Kittiwake Procal, explains the importance of in-situ continuous emissions monitoring in ensuring regulatory compliance and improved operational performance.
Reducing shipping emissions will be the major driver of change in the maritime industry for decades to come. But the starting point for tackling shipping emissions is to measure it. The analogy is simple; you don’t start a diet without accurate scales to measure your progress. Real-time emissions monitoring is not only critical in ensuring regulatory compliance, but also for improving the operational performance of the modern vessel.
Emissions monitoring is already a fact of life for the shipping industry, not least for vessels operating within Emission Control Areas (ECAs) thanks to IMO MARPOL Annex VI’s regulations. With the introduction of new ECAs and the tightening of sulphur emission limits within them, more and more vessels will need to monitor their emissions using increasingly sophisticated monitoring systems. The North American ECA, effective from 2012, will impact 50% of international containership maritime traffic, and by 2015, 90% of the world’s container routes will involve ECA transits.
So ship operators have serious decisions to make. These are based on a complex set of circumstances and a fluid regulatory background. However there appear to be only two options that will allow ships to comply with SOx emissions regulations; use fuel within sulphur limits or fit exhaust after-treatment systems. Robust emissions monitoring has an important role to play in both. Systems capable of measuring down to the equivalent of 0.1% sulphur fuel are key for confirming compliance with SOx regulations when after treatment is used. Similarly, if fuel switching is the chosen option, monitoring provides assurance that fuels have been changed in a timely manner before entry into an ECA and that compliance is ongoing. Furthermore, with the likes of Caterpillar, Volvo and Wal-Mart now asking for shipping emissions data, pressure from the customer is growing.
The most effective method for measuring emissions is in-situ monitoring using a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS). In contrast to extractive sampling where a gas sample needs to be physically extracted from the system for analysis, ‘in-situ’ monitoring provides a continuous, real time measurement of the content of exhaust gases, with data provided instantaneously on a screen that can be installed in the engine room and on the bridge.
An in-situ continuous monitoring system will immediately flag up any problems. By contrast, a five stack extractive system will monitor any stack for only 12 minutes in any hour. In-situ systems are also inherently reliable, as they do not require any filtration or drying of the exhaust gas, and are the only real monitoring option for low maintenance seawater scrubbing operations.
In-situ CEMS are a robust and reliable method of complying with emissions regulations, whether in port, in ECAs or in international waters. They are effective, simple to use, require little maintenance and have lower installation and operational costs than extractive sample handling systems. They can also measure compliance from residual and distillate fuel combustion, which enables fuel switching to be monitored.
A unique feature of infra-red in-situ systems is that they are sensitive enough to confirm compliance, even when emission limits are very low. Emissions that are the equivalent of 0.1% sulphur fuel represent around 22ppm of SOx in the exhaust gas. Any instrument with a sole range of 0-100ppm will not be accurate enough to measure this, and thus will prove an inappropriate choice for scrubber operational monitoring. Kittiwake’s Procal 2000 - an infra-red duct or stack-mounted system, designed to provide in-stack analysis – for example has an SO2 monitoring range of 0-100ppm but can automatically switch ranges to 0-500/1000ppm for monitoring operations outside of an ECA on high sulphur fuels.
Such systems are also versatile enough to measure several gases and from several onboard locations. Kittiwake’s Procal 2000 can analyse up to six different exhaust gases from multiple engines and boilers, including SO2, CO2 and NOx. It comprises up to six exhaust-mounted analysers, each with automatic verification facilities, which makes it suitable for a crew inexperienced in emissions analysis.
The Kittiwake Procal 2000 analyser has an in-situ sample cell that sits inside the exhaust, avoiding the need to manually extract gas using costly, high maintenance sample handling systems, and enabling analysis of an unmodified, representative gas sample. It can also measure H2O or water vapour, meaning that measurements can be reported in as ‘dry’ or ‘wet’.
As well as meeting regulatory standards, emissions monitoring performs a valuable operational role. Armed with accurate data about its vessel emissions, an operator can optimise operations within regulatory limits; in other words, avoiding the risk of gold-plating compliance to their commercial disadvantage.
Accurate emissions data also allows an operator to baseline its existing combustion systems, benchmark the performance of emission reduction products and technologies, such as lower sulphur fuels or scrubbing equipment, and evaluate compliance against published specifications.
The day-to-day benefits of continuous emissions monitoring mean that emissions data can be used to advise on engine performance and to improve maintenance regimes that better understand engine and generators’ specific emissions tolerances and provide an early warning of equipment damage.
When it comes to controlling emissions, knowledge is power. The better the information you have, the better decisions you can take, not just in ensuring regulatory compliance, but also in maximising operational efficiencies and making the right calls on new technology investments. By providing accurate, reliable and timely emissions data, in-situ CEMS deliver exactly those benefits.
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