Sulphur rules could damage health, EGCSA conference hears

New research suggests that a prescriptive approach to fuel sulphur has resulted in more toxic emissions, according to one of the presenters at the first Asian Emissions Technology Conference organised by the Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA).

Professor Zimmermann of the University of Rostock and Helmholtz Zentrum München shared findings from human tissue studies conducted over many years at the conference, staged at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands conference centre on 6 November. Zimmermann argued that the fuel prescription approach to regulation – exemplified by the introduction of 0.1% sulphur emission control areas in 2015, and the impending 2020 global 0.5% sulphur cap - had resulted in more toxic emissions for certain populations, such as in ports and regions bordering busy shipping lanes.

Don Gregory, director of EGCSA and conference chair, noted: “EGCSA has always encouraged a goal-based and sustainable approach to the protection of human health and the environment. It is a shame that politics and dogma continue to hamper real progress in realising these ambitions.”

Daniels Evans, senior superintendent, Andrew Weir Ship Management presented a review of preparations required for switching to low-sulphur fuels and distillates. He noted that as well as the physical process of tank-by-tank cleaning, it is essential to inform fuel and lubricants suppliers, or risk a shortage of correct fuels and lubes.

Professor Di Natale of the University of Naples undertook a review of alternative fuels. His conclusion was that there are fuels which assist in reducing emissions, but, given the nature of the combustion process in a diffusion combustion diesel engine, no fuel achieves zero toxic emission. He explained how the use of advanced scrubber technologies remain a necessity if shipping is to play its part in air protection and minimising the impact of emissions on human health.

“The underlying message was clear: multiple fuel choices will be a headache for ship-owners, but no fuel choice will avoid the inevitable requirement to install exhaust gas treatment systems.” Gregory concluded.

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