Seaspan Ship Management opts for Alfa Laval Aalborg steam solution

Hong Kong-based containership manager and owner Seaspan Ship Management has opted for low-sulphur fuels for its ships as part of its strategy to meet the IMO 2020 sulphur cap.

However, like most container vessels, the Seaspan-owned ships have only a single oil-fired boiler and a waste heat recovery boiler on board. This provides no redundancy, which is problematic when using sulphur-compliant fuels.

Alfa Laval Aalborg boiler to be installed on a Seaspan container vessel as part of a steam solution to support the use of sulphur-compliant fuel
Alfa Laval Aalborg; Courtesy of Alfa Laval

To provide a solution, the company has hired Alfa Laval to resolve steam balance and redundancy issues.

To this end, the Swedish engineering group is providing the company with a comprehensive solution, which includes an integrated steam boiler plant comprising oil-fired steam production, waste heat recovery, advanced control and connectivity.

The equipment will soon be fitted on eight Seaspan’s large container ships. The setup on the first container vessel is scheduled for early spring of 2020, running throughout 2020 and into 2021 for the remaining ships.

The installations are planned to take place in a shipyard, but they can be performed at sea if unforeseen disruptions in yard schedules make it necessary, the company said.

“The composition of low-sulphur fuels was uncertain when we first decided for them, but it quickly became clear that high paraffin content would be an issue,” says Arvin Dsouza, Fleet Manager at Seaspan Ship Management.

“To avoid wax formation, the fuel temperature has to stay above the pour point at all times. But the existing boiler solution on the above-mentioned vessels can’t guarantee the required steam capacity as these vessels do not have heating coils in all the designated fuel oil tanks and rely on a shifter system.”

By adding a new Alfa Laval Aalborg oil-fired boiler, fuel heating will be supported by means of steam coils in all tanks. Both the fired boilers and the waste heat recovery boiler will be interconnected through the Alfa Laval Touch Control system, creating a single steam solution, Alfa Laval said.

“Alfa Laval is unique in having all the boiler, burner and control technologies in-house,” says Dsouza. “They presented a complete heating solution that keeps as much as possible of the existing equipment on board, but which integrates the different components for smooth performance as one system. With their knowledge, they could tie everything together.”

On each container vessel, Alfa Laval experts will strip out and replace the electrical components of original oil-fired boiler, which was supplied by a different manufacturer. However, they will assimilate its pressure section, ring line equipment and burner, using them to create a new boiler capable of being connected to the Alfa Laval Touch Control system. For a seamless solution, the same type of burner will be used on the new Aalborg boiler.

“Rather than replacing the competitor burner with their own, Alfa Laval is incorporating the same type, so that we can make use of the knowledge and parts we have on board,” says Dsouza.

“Everything, including waste heat recovery, will be smoothly handled through the Alfa Laval Touch Control system, as if it had all come from Alfa Laval in the first place.”

The Alfa Laval Touch Control system, which will replace the older boiler’s relay-based control system, is a PLC-based system that can run the oil-fired boilers in either master/slave or load-sharing modes.

“We’ll have complete operational flexibility,” says Dsouza, who praises the system’s ease of use. “Through the graphical touchscreen, the operators will have a full overview of the steam plant and be able to make adjustments with just a touch or two.”

The new boiler solution will be equipped for connectivity and Alfa Laval service experts will be able to monitor the system’s condition remotely, should needs arise for troubleshooting, assistance, and optimization.

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