More 'pure thinking' from Alfa Laval

04 May 2012
Alfa Laval PureDry installation onboard 'Silja Symphony'

Alfa Laval PureDry installation onboard 'Silja Symphony'

Alfa Laval has reinforced its ‘pure thinking’ concept ahead of the 2015 ECA sulphur rules by re-branding its exhaust gas scrubber as ‘Pure SOx’ and launching ‘PureDry’, a waste oil recovery system, in the market.

The company reminds shipowners that action is needed urgently to ensure they meet the 2015 0.1% sulphur limits in ECAs and the 2020 global 0.5% sulphur cap.

It suggests that there is still uncertainty in the industry, and expectations that the rules may be relaxed or delayed are unrealistic, because the MARPOL amendments have been ratified and are unlikely to be changed. Although a switch to distillate fuels appears to be an easy option, it is expected to bring about a large increase in the cost of such fuels. Likewise the LNG option suffers from uncertain fuel prices, large volume onboard tanks, and a lack of fuelling infrastructure.

This is why Alfa Laval is putting its weight behind the exhaust gas cleaning solution, in the form of the system developed by Aalborg Industries, now part of Alfa Laval, and now re-branded as ‘Pure SOx’. The company explains its reasoning: “For newbuildings installation of exhaust gas cleaning technology is not a problem and seems to be a logical, future-proof step. In fact, it would be hard to understand the reasoning of a ship owner with a vessel at the design stage that will operate in the ECAs, who did not install such a system."

Alfa Laval continues: “When it comes to retrofitting a scrubber in an existing ship, a number of factors affect the attractiveness of the proposition. Heading the list, of course, is whether or not it is feasible given the type, size, design and construction of the vessel. The vessel’s operating profile and annual fuel consumption in the ECAs are also important considerations.

“In financial terms, the larger the ship and the more hours it is in operation, the more fuel it burns, and the more attractive the proposition is in terms of savings on the fuel bill.

“The cost of retrofitting a scrubbing system, including the downtime involved, can be high. However, if the ship regularly operates within the ECAs, the payback time is said to be between one and two years.

“Obviously, the opportunity to continue burning HFO is a highly positive factor in terms of keeping down fuel costs and allowing the owner to remain competitive in an extremely tough market. Some owners have chosen this route already with favourable results, although others are reluctant to act.”

It goes on to talk about the impact on the charter market: “The ship owner approached by the scrubber manufacturer says: ‘Yes, I want to purchase a scrubber, but my charterer is not willing to pay’. The charterer is focusing on the charter fee he is paying the ship owner and seems unaware of the forthcoming legislation. It is already a fact that 50% of the operating costs of a vessel are defined by the fuel bill and in many cases the fuel costs exceed the charter fee. Therefore one would expect the owner to install a scrubber, absorb the cost, and maintain a reasonable level of fees to the charterer in 2015, in order to safeguard his company’s competitiveness in the long term.

“It will come as no surprise to hear that, in January 2015, charterers are saying to owners, ‘you expect me to pay double the price for fuel? Why there is no scrubber installed?’”

Moreover, the company suggests that retrofitting of scrubbers should be carried out now, rather than delaying to 2014, when the manufacturers are likely to be inundated with orders and shipyards will be fully booked with ballast water treatment and scrubber installations.

The company’s second new ‘pure thinking’ thrust is the ‘Pure Dry’ waste oil recovery system. In short, this uses a specially-developed centrifugal separation technology to recover re-usable HFO from residues in the waste oil tank. Although this appears to be just polluted water, in reality this contains 20%-30% of recoverable energy. PureDry operates with two waste oil tanks, one for FO and one for lube oil residues, and separates the contents into re-usable fuel oil which is returned to the bunker tanks, water, which is dealt with as bilge water, and dry waste solids which can be easily and safely stored and disposed of ashore.

Alfa Laval says that owners can expect fuel savings of as much as 2% using PureDry, as well as providing a way of dealing with oily waste onboard. The system has been trialed at sea onboard the cruise ferry Silja Symphony, where it has recovered more than 150m³ of fuel oil since installation in November 2010.

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