The first test ever run on a scrubber on a Maersk vessel has just come to an end and the results are rather promising. What started as an innovation project in 2010 could now be a viable technology to bring down SOx emissions to meet the IMO requirements that entered into force in January 2015.
Why is SOx undesirable?
SOx, or sulphur oxides, are, besides NOx (nitrogen oxides), one of the two main causes of acid rain. Acid rain is known to have adverse impacts on forests, freshwaters and soils, killing insects and aquatic life-forms as well as causing damage to buildings and having negative impacts on human health.
SOx emissions from ships correspond to the sulphur content in the fuel, currently 3,5 %, and 1 % in Emission Control Areas (ECAs).
In 2012, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) revised the MARPOL Annex VI to reduce the global sulphur cap from 4.5 % to 3.50 %. The limits applicable in ECAs for SOx and particulate matter were further reduced to 0.10 %, effective from 1 January 2015. It goes without saying that Maersk has to comply with these regulations, which is why Maersk Maritime Technology is closely monitoring the regulatory developments as well as testing technical solutions to meet them.
But how do we comply with such a drastic cap in SOx emissions? The most obvious solution would be to turn to low sulphur fuel. However, only Diesel oil has a low enough sulphur content to be able to meet the future 0.10 % regulations in ECAs - and Diesel oil is for the time 50% more expensive than regular heavy fuel oil (HFO).