• ARI Media

Scrubbers Winning Owners’ Hearts



The countdown has begun for the entrance into force of the 2020 global sulphur cap and the shipping industry has less than a year and a half to become compliant.

There are three main solutions to choose from: installing a scrubber, running your ships on marine gas oil (MGO) or switching to liquefied natural gas (LNG).

World Maritime News spoke with Jan Othman and Sigurd Jenssen, directors of exhaust gas cleaning at Finish technology group Wärtsilä about the uptake of the technology and its key benefits.

Wärtsilä’s portfolio of exhaust gas cleaning (EGC) products includes systems for open, closed and hybrid configurations, featuring three different designs: V-SOx design (From 1 to 35MW), Q-SOx design (From 40 to 70 MW), and I-SOx design (From 1 to 20 MW).

As explained, these systems are suitable for basically any type of a vessel and have so far been installed on cruise ships, ferries, Ro-Ro vessels, containerships, tankers, fishing vessels and bulkers.

In 2018, the demand for Wärtsilä’s scrubbers has been driven mainly by tanker, container, bulker, and the cruise and ferry segments.

Following the IMO’s decision to adopt the 2020 sulfur cap for ships, how would you assess the recent demand for your SOx scrubber technology? Does Wärtsilä have plans to open new hubs to meet the demand for installing/retrofitting scrubber systems?

Othman & Jenssen: Wärtsilä has indeed experienced a significant increase in demand for our SOx treatment technology in the past year and we have seen a high adaptation rate for scrubbers in the newbuilding (NB) market for the last 12 months. Moreover, during the first half of 2018 there has been a significant spike in interest in the retrofit market as owners come to see an increasingly strong business case in installing scrubbers also for their existing fleet across a wide range of vessel types.

We have anticipated the increased demand in the market ahead of the 2020 sulphur cap and we have been working on developing and expanding our sub-supply bases in both Eastern Europe and Asia in order to ramp up production significantly compared to the volumes delivered in previous years. In addition to strengthening our supply base, we have been working on expanding our own in-house engineering capacity and we have opened several new engineering hubs during 2018 to support the increased growth.

What are the key factors to consider before retrofitting a ship with scrubbers?

Othman & Jenssen: Firstly, one needs to ensure that the equipment can be fitted into the vessel before starting a retrofit project and we always conduct a site survey jointly with the owner to ensure this.

Furthermore, it is important to secure that the installed power of the vessel is sufficient to operate the scrubber pumps and to ensure that the scrubber system does not have a negative effect on the stability of the vessel. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the capacity of the vessel’s sea chest is sufficient and that the additional exhaust gas back pressure from the scrubber does not cause any operational difficulties for the ship.

In your opinion, why should owners opt for scrubbers and for which owners are scrubbers the most suitable solution? Once installed, when can owners expect their return on investment?

Othman & Jenssen: In our view there is no single best solution to comply with the global sulphur cap, but the decision is highly dependent on the operational profile and operational area of the vessel.