Wärtsilä and Alfa Laval are among the manufacturers to highlight ready availability of scrubbers that will enable HFO fuels to be continue being burned after the IMO’s global sulphur cap comes into force in 2020 .

The cap will create a 0.5% fuel sulphur limit worldwide, but scrubber installations will enable ships to avoid a switch to low-sulphur fuel.

The IMO MEPC’s announcement of a global fuel sulphur cap in 2020 has been met with immediate concern. Ship owners have questions not only about the availability of compliant 0.5%S fuel, but also about the likely difference in price compared to today’s bunker fuel. Using the Alfa Laval PureSOx scrubber platform, however, they can effectively avoid both issues.

“Scrubbers are an approved means of meeting fuel sulphur limits without switching from residual fuels,” says René Diks, Manager Marketing & Sales, Exhaust Gas Cleaning. “By cleaning sulphur compounds from the exhaust gas, they provide full compliance while protecting the vessel’s fuel economy. Alfa Laval PureSOx has been doing this for many years in Emission Control Areas, where the sulphur emission limits are far stricter than 0.5%.”

Alfa say that today’s Alfa Laval PureSOx platform is fully prepared for 2020, offering a range of systems to meet different compliance needs. PureSOx Global, which specifically targets the 0.5%S global limit, is a streamlined scrubber optimized for open seas. Yet it uses the same proven technology as PureSOx ECA, which provides 0.1%S compliance in Emission Control Areas. For vessels whose sailing profile is more varied, there is also PureSOx Flex, which offers both 0.1%S and 0.5%S compliance modes.

“All PureSOx systems are available in open-loop, closed-loop and hybrid arrangements, with either U-design or inline I-design scrubbers,” says Diks. “With such a complete range of compliance options and technical possibilities, Alfa Laval can secure a compact, cost-effective solution to help nearly any vessel secure fuel economy. PureSOx is a clear route to competitive compliance, even after the 2020 global cap.”

A statement from Wärtsilä said they were also well positioned to deal with the cap using current equipment.

Wärtsilä’s statement says they have unrivalled experience in exhaust gas cleaning (EGC) systems for marine applications, and were the first manufacturer to have been awarded the International Maritime Organisation’s certificate for exhaust gas cleaning systems by the classification societies Det Norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, and Bureau Veritas. Subsequently, the company has actively developed the technology, the capacity, and the network to overcome the challenges faced by owners and operators in meeting the global sulphur cap regulations.

Recently, the Singapore flag state authorities approved Wärtsilä’s EGC systems, making it the first EGC to be approved by an Asian flag authority. This approval by Singapore makes it applicable to all Asian flag states.

Wärtsilä were also first to introduce dual-fuel engines to the shipping sector, allowing the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel. Since LNG contains no sulphur, there is an increasing trend towards the use of LNG fuel as a viable means of complying with the sulphur cap requirements.

“In addition to its well-known offering in dual-fuel engines and LNG handling systems, Wärtsilä also has a portfolio of the most flexible EGC systems. Our open-loop water cleaning system is the most environmentally sound solution on the market. We can customise and optimise our systems to meet specific customer requirements, while offering support during each phase of the project from feasibility studies to commissioning, and then on to lifecycle service support,” says Roger Holm, President, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.

The global cap will limit the sulphur content of marine fuels to 0.5%, meaning that the world’s shipping fleets will need to either change to a cleaner fuel such as LNG, or install abatement systems. Wärtsilä’s EGC systems already have in excess of 200,000 running hours of operation, making Wärtsilä by far the most experienced provider of such systems for marine use.