Interview: Alfa Laval Scrubber Sales Forge Ahead
Swedish engineering group Alfa Laval has seen a steady growth in the orders of their marine exhaust gas cleaning systems, the so-called scrubbers, spurred on by the introduction of the 0.1% Sulphur Directive, and the trend is expected to continue throughout 2015, René Diks, Manager Marketing & Sales, Exhaust Gas Cleaning at Alfa Laval, told World Maritime News.
Now in its second generation, the Alfa Laval PureSOx scrubber has accumulated an order portfolio of 70 units, comprising over 1,100 connected megawatts on roughly 65 vessels, including two full-scale pilot installations and the first orders in the US and Asia. The most recent order was secured from Finnlines for an exhaust gas scrubber for MS Finnmerchant.
Judging by Alfa Laval’s order book, this exhaust gas cleaning technology is the most popular with ro/ro and cruise ship owners, with Spliethoff, DFDS, Grimaldi Group and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, among others, opting for the PureSOx scrubbers. Geographically speaking, the strongest demand for PureSOx scrubbers is recorded in North Europe, Germany, Benelux and the USA, according to Diks.
With marine gas oil (MGO) currently costing almost twice as much as heavy fuel oil (HFO), Diks says that shipowners operating within ECA areas might see a 50% drop in fuel costs after installing scrubbers.
”We expect a continued good demand for PureSOx, as ship owners will now start to be able to see the difference between HFO bills and MGO bills. The oil prices have been lowered, but the price difference is still about the same and therefore results in a good business case for many vessels,” Diks told WMN.
”Currently, these shipowners won’t see a major difference in their fuel bills, compared to last year, as the fuel prices have dropped significantly in the last couple of months. So the incentive to invest now, might appear less, although the relative saving now has increased from 30 to 50%, so ship owners that want to strengthen their competitive position might opt for a scrubber solution. This definitely applies for ship owners sailing to a large extent in ECA areas,” said Diks.
Alfa Laval sees the introduction of the new sulphur cap as an instigator of technological innovations in the development of scrubbers. As more and more companies enter the market, ”Alfa Laval will continue its R&D program to extend its product portfolio,” said Diks.
WMN: Should the compliance with the new sulphur regulations be mandatory? What should be done to ensure better enforcement of the new sulphur limitations?
Diks: There is no doubt that legislation already ratified in 2008 is in place and should be enforced. Enforcement is of course key to achieve a level playing field for ship owners sailing in ECAs and justifies investments in a scrubber solution.
WMN: What has been the product that has sparked the greatest interest from your clients ahead of the sulphur switch?
Diks: We have been focusing on our PureSOx solution that now has been sold to over 60 vessels. Customers value our reliability as we have a proven track record regarding abatement technologies to meet the new sulphur regulations. In September we launched our PureSOx 2.0 at the SMM in Hamburg which created huge interest and which has been sold since then to Horizon Lines, Atlantic Container Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
WMN: How long does it take for one of your scrubbers to be installed on a vessel?
Diks: PureSOx is delivered as prefabricated components and modules, with every aspect of its installation well planned in advance. The packing of the components and their delivery to the site is optimized for a fast installation start-up. To save docking time, some preparation can be done while the vessel is in operation, and the final commissioning can also be handled en route. With a capable shipyard and smart planning, the total vessel downtime can be kept to as little as 2-3 weeks.
WMN: With PureSOx recently being granted its first class approvals within MEPC.184 (59), you suggested that the class approval process for open-loop scrubbers, should not only rely on measurements, but also include calculation-based methodologies? How will these calculations be performed?
Diks: This topic has been discussed and is still under discussion in IMO. Alfa Laval has developed its own calculation based methodology but realizes that this needs to be synchronized with all parties involved. A common approach to this is key to ensure a solution that can be pragmatically implemented during retrofits/new building projects. Our customers are looking for clear guidance regarding the pH requirements.
WMN: Has Alfa Laval performed any environmental and financial viability tests so far, and what have been the results?
Diks: Alfa Laval has performed tests and they can be found in the 2012 COWI report. Alfa Laval’s scrubber portfolio can be offered with 3 operational modes – closed loop, open loop and hybrid.
When systems are operating in closed loop operation, almost no harmful substances are released into the water. In closed loop operation the scrubber water is dosed with an alkaline additive and recirculated. As the scrubber water becomes dirty, the water is cleaned with our unique water cleaning process. What remains is sludge that needs to be disposed at harbor reception facilities. Only a small part of the cleaned water needs to be discharged overboard, the remainder of the cleaned water is fed back and re-used in the scrubbing process.
Alfa Laval will continue its development program to ensure that scrubbers remain an economically viable solution and will be able to coop with more stringent future legislation.
WMN: Are there any plans to launch a new product soon, and what are your goals for 2015?
Diks: Over the course of 2015 we will launch our inline version of PureSOx. The first system will soon be tested on board. Full sales of the inline will start in Q4 of 2015. We will continue working on the development of the PureSOx 2.0 which has been launched at SMM Hamburg 2014.
World Maritime News Staff; Images: Alfa Laval