February 20, 2015

Cutting air pollution from ships

Ships are heavy polluters – The fuel used in international shipping contains on average 2,700 times more sulphur than the fuel used for cars, resulting in higher sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions. Yara Marine Technologies has developed a simple, cost-efficient solution that cleans exhaust gases.
SOx scrubbers
SOx scrubbers

In 2014, Yara acquired a majority stake in Yara Marine Technologies, formerly known as Green Tech Marine. The purchase expanded Yara’s emission control technology portfolio and the company now offers emission abatement solutions for industrial plants, motor vehicles and ships.

“It is a very good fit strategically,” said Kenny Strandberg, Vice President Business Development at Yara Marine Technologies, who was involved in the acquisition process. “Safeguarding the environment is a core priority for Yara and that makes us confident that Yara is committed to developing our business.”

Black versus white smoke

Shipping is essential for international trade. Around 90 percent of European Union external trade is done via sea vessels. Shipping is also the main source of man-made emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), which are harmful for the environment (acid rain) and human health (asthma, lung cancer). Maritime SOx emissions are higher than all other transport modes per ton kilometer.

Yara Marine Technologies offers a simple and cost-efficient solution to fight air pollution at sea: the scrubber. A scrubber is a cylinder that replaces the silencer of a ship engine and cleans the exhaust gas, reducing SOx emissions by up to 99%. The scrubber uses sea water to neutralize SOx molecules, allowing vessels owners to comply with current and future emissions regulations.

“If you see a ship emitting black smoke – that is because of sulphur oxides and carbon particles. But when an engine is equipped with a scrubber, the smoke is white,” said YMT’s Kenny Strandberg. “The scrubber removes these residual products in the exhaust, turning it into water mist.”

Smallest marine scrubber

A scrubber in the wharfWhat makes Yara Marine Technologies’ scrubber unique is that it is custom-built. It has been specifically designed and developed for the marine industry, meaning the product has been perfectly optimized to take into account the space and weight constraints faced by ship owners. Many of the competing scrubbers are adaptations from land-based solutions. YMT’s unique technology has earned it various prestigious innovation prizes in Norway.

“We have developed the smallest footprint SOx scrubber that can be retrofitted into any seagoing vessel, be it a cruise ship, a car ferry or an oil tanker,” said Strandberg. “Thanks to small size of the scrubbers, no valuable space for passengers, crew or cargo has to be sacrificed. Due to the low weight of the scrubbers, the stability of ships will not be effected.”

(*) Reference in lead related to ship fuel content is according to European Environmental Bureau

Read more about Yara's effortst against emissions to air and stay tuned for Part II of this article to be published on Yara.com shortly.