Wärtsilä’s Sigurd Jenssen Discusses Scrubber Technology and Environmental Compliance [INTERVIEW]

While at the SMM Hamburg conference a few weeks ago, I met up with Sigurd Jenssen, Director, EGC at Wärtsilä Environmental Solutions

sigurd jenssenTell me a bit about yourself and what you do at Wärtsilä

I’m in charge of the exhaust gas cleaning business within Wärtsilä, which is mainly about SOx emissions and to some extent particulates and NOx in terms of SCR solutions.

SCR?

Selective Catalytic Reduction.

With the merger of Hamworthy and Wärtsilä, we have really brought two different complimentary products into the same business, which means we are able to supply really any solution to any customer depending on what sort of ships they have, where they operate, and what sort of environmental policy they have.  We have a very broad range to suit almost every need in terms of emissions abatement.

What is the technology involved that you work with?

We supply scrubbers which essentially means we wash the exhaust gases with water.  Either using seawater in an open loop mode, or in a closed loop mode with fresh water with the addition of caustic soda in order to absorb the sulfur.

The process has been used in land-based applications since the 1930s or so.  We have been using it on ships as part of the inert gas systems on tankers since 1963.

The process for making inert gas is exactly the same, but of course the application is a bit different because of the much larger volumes.  It’s not necessarily a straight-forward engineering problem however, you need marine experience to understand the environment and conditions on board a ship.

If you were to talk with a junior naval architect given the task of adding a scrubber to a ship design he or she was working on, do you have any tips for them?

There needs to be a significant amount of consideration into using the right materials and having enough space.  These are physically very large components and you need to take that into consideration of course.  Funnel shapes will need to be modified as the scrubber is located in the funnel.

It’s really just about traditional, thorough marine engineering, and putting that into practice.  I’m not going to say it isn’t rocket science, but… it’s traditional engineering in this case.

How much interest are you seeing in these systems these days?

We are seeing a LOT more interest, and shipowners are realizing that they do not have a lot of time to implement this new technology in accordance with the IMO mandate.  There are a number of options for shipowners to consider however, and it’s a complicated environment to maneuver within while understanding the consequences of running on MGO, LNG, or installing scrubbers.

It’s good that things are getting busier, but I think that shipowners need to focus a bit harder on this as 2015 is basically tomorrow for all practical purposes.

You mention the complications involved in making the right decision on this, can you elaborate a bit more?

It varies a lot.  No two ships are alike, and no two shipowners are alike.  There are lots of factors shipowners need to look at such as ship design, the route the ship is operated on, the environmental policies in place, limited discharges, what sort of charter arrangements, etc.  It’s a complicated formula that needs to be evaluated.

Let’s say 2015 is tomorrow, what sort of processes will be in place to regulate the industry within these ECAs?

Well, the IMO regulations have been ratified.  All the IMO members are obliged to transpose the IMO regulations into national law, at which point, it comes down to the member states to actually enforce the legislation.

Beyond that, I honestly don’t know the answer.

It seems that there hasn’t been enough detail on that subject yet.

It’s subject to port state control, but how the port state control will be exercised really comes down to each individual state.  Hopefully there will be some sort of unified approach to that and we hope that will happen through the discussion in the Parliament in Brussels in making a document that pretty much mirrors the IMO regulations.

How did you find yourself in your current role at Wartsila?

I used to work for Wärtsilä, but I left about 6 or 7 years ago to work for Hamworthy.

Within Hamworthy, we started looking about emissions abatement about 20 years ago and a prototype was installed in 1993.  There were no regulations and no market demand, and so we just put everything on the shelf and waited.

It must have been in 2008, we pulled the old files off the shelf and started development efforts and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Good to be back with your old company, now unified with Hamworthy?

Wartsila has a tremendous name, and tremendous reach within the industry, and the resources are much greater within Wartsila than they were within Hamworthy.  There’s a lot of know-how within Wärtsilä that perhaps we didn’t have within Hamworthy and now we have much better understanding of the engine exhaust and the variations that you can get with different fuels, different lube oils, and all of this.  This increased technical expertise helps create new opportunities.

What’s the next evolution of Wärtsilä – Hamworthy these days?  

We expect the demand for abatement solutions is going to take off.  It has to.  Scrubbing is definitely a bit answer to meeting the regulatory requirements in the future.

Are there any new technologies coming out any time soon that may be game changers?  Anything that you’ve seen that you can talk about?

(Smiling) Nothing that I can talk about.

Fair enough

Wärtsilä has always been known for its fairly extensive R&D efforts and we are not stopping that.  We have a solution now, but we’re always working on improving that and looking at new ways of doing it.

Our own focus is to increase our own capacity to meet demand that we see is going to come, and that is a big enough challenge in itself.