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Monday, March 11, 2019 

Scrubber manufacturer Yara Marine Technologies has called for more independent research into marine exhaust gas treatment before Port Authorities make any decisions to ban the use of scrubbers in their waterways.

Encouraging further investigation into scrubber options, supported by more hard facts, Yara Marine Technologies CEO Peter Strandberg (pictured right) said: “We want to see more independent research to move the debate forward, and we invite owners and operators who are uncertain about the best scrubber solution for them to contact us.”

A number of Authorities have enacted bans for different reasons. The facts behind the debate must be examined, said Yara Marine Technologies’ R&D Manager Shyam Thapa (pictured left).  “Open loop scrubbers do not perform effectively in water with low alkalinity, such as rivers and inland waterways. In these areas, systems supplying alkali in a closed loop are required, so open loop bans are largely formalities.”

Some private ports are also enacting open-loop bans, but Thapa observes that this may often be for reasons other than environmental concern. He believes that a combination of ‘want to’ and ‘need to’ is a likely future scenario on open loop scrubber bans, with flexibility being the common key to ensuring compliance and unrestricted operations.

Yara Marine manufactures both open and closed loop exhaust scrubber systems, and hybrid scrubbers capable of operating in either mode depending on applicable geographical regulations.

“Open loop is still viable for 80-90 per cent of global marine transport,” Thapa said. “Our estimates for hybrid solutions assume maximum 15 per cent of operation time using closed loop mode. But if the vessel is operating in waters where open loop is forbidden, owners either need to be able to operate the scrubber in closed mode or switch over to alternative fuel.

For those still yet to make a decision, Thapa said: “I think the main thing is to emphasise that the overall picture is more complex than what is presented in the media. There are many factors in the calculation, and each case is different. There is no blanket solution for every situation.”

He noted that vessel specific considerations and trading profiles will determine the choice of solution for many, venturing that the spread of open loop bans could influence more owners to choose hybrid solutions in order to ensure flexible operations for the life of the vessel.

International research continues into the effects of scrubber washwater discharge to the sea. Several major shipowners have been collecting data from their own fleets as well, and all will have to be considered before consensus can be reached on the ultimate consequence of open loop scrubbers for marine environments.

For its part, Yara is involved in an ongoing research project with Chalmers University of Technology to combine SOx and NOx gas cleaning in a single system. The project is also investigating possible industrial uses for exhaust sludge. The results could be applicable for both marine and land-based applications, giving the project wider environmental significance. Yara is also working intensively to solve the issue of particulate matter (PM) from combustion processes. The goal is to reduce harmful PM smaller than 2.5 micron by more than 95 per cent.

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