Canada’s Algoma Central Corp. to ‘Scrub’ Out SOx Emissions with Help from Wärtsilä

An artist's rendition of the new Equinox Class vessels. Photo: Algoma Central Corp.

Algoma Central Corp., the largest Canadian shipowner and operator of Canadian-flagged Great Lakes vessels, has announced plans to install fresh water exhaust gas scrubbers on six new vessels that the company says will remove 97% of sulphur oxides emissions generated by vessel engines.

The St. Catharines, Ontario-based company has signed a contract with Wärtsilä Ship Power for the supply of the systems for its Equinox Class vessels, which are currently being built by Chinese shipbuilder Nantong Mingde Heavy Industry Co. Ltd, for a total supply and installation cost of the six scrubber systems is US$12 million.

The two gearless bulk carriers and four self-unloading bulk carriers are designed specifically for Great Lakes service with high efficiency hulls that will require less horsepower to achieve higher speeds than any previous Great Lakes design and thus achieve the lowest fuel consumption and emissions per tonne/kilometre of cargo carried.  The first Equinox Class vessel will arrive in Canada in the first half of 2013.

The Algoma order is the first for Wärtsilä’s new, integrated, fresh water, exhaust gas scrubber design. The scrubbers are designed to clean the exhaust gases of the vessels’ main and auxiliary engines as well as the oil-fired boiler and will meet more stringent environmental regulations taking effect over the next three years.

These scrubber systems will allow shipowners to use lower cost, heavy fuel oils while, at the same time, meet the new Emission Control Area sulphur limits established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and adopted by Canada and the United States for the Great Lakes and coastal waters.  Without scrubber technology, shipowners will be forced to convert vessels to burn more expensive low sulfur diesel.

The Wärtsilä scrubber concept works with fresh water recirculating in a closed-loop system. Sulphur oxides that are washed out of the exhaust are neutralized with caustic soda. A small amount of scrubbing water is continuously extracted and an on board water treatment unit removes other captured contaminants such as particulate matter.

A major advantage of fresh water scrubbers is the possibility to operate in a zero discharge mode which means that there is no effluent (waste product) from the scrubber discharged into the lake water. The treated, clean effluents would be held in a holding tank for discharge at an appropriate location while solid contaminants are disposed of at reception facilities in port.

“These are truly important vessels as they will set new standards for environmentally sustainable shipping on the Great Lakes and for cargo vessels in general. The Wärtsilä integrated scrubber solution removes more than 97 percent of sulphur oxides emissions,” says Juhani Hupli, Vice President, Ship Power Technology at Wärtsilä Ship Power.

“In addition to the environmental initiatives another key focus for Algoma’s fleet renewal process has been to reduce maintenance costs. Wärtsilä’s capability in providing both an integrated marine solution and global service support was a major reason Wärtsilä was selected to provide this comprehensive equipment package.” says Al Vanagas, Senior Vice President Technical, Algoma Central Corporation.

This process meets all the quality and monitoring requirements stipulated by the IMO. Wärtsilä is the first manufacturer to have been awarded a marine scrubber certificate by the classification societies Det Norske Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd, and Bureau Veritas.

More about Wärtsilä’s Fresh Water Scrubbers