Interlake outfits third bulker with exhaust scrubbers

The following is the text of a news release from Interlake Steamship Co.:

(MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio) — M/V Lee A. Tregurtha sailed today from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., becoming Interlake Steamship Co.’s third self-unloading bulk carrier to be outfitted with exhaust gas scrubbers.

Interlake became the first U.S.-flag fleet to test scrubbers on the Great Lakes in April 2015 after pioneering the emission-reduction technology on its M/V Hon. James L. Oberstar. Earlier this month, M/V James R. Barker sailed as the fleet’s first 1,000-footer with scrubbers.

“With the Lee A. Tregurtha back in service, one-third of our fleet is now equipped with innovative scrubber systems implemented specifically to net significant emission reductions,” said Interlake President Mark W. Barker. “Reducing our environmental footprint and leading the way with this technology illustrates our commitment to continuous improvement across our fleet.”

The retrofit of Lee A. Tregurtha was supported by a $500,000 cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MarAd).

“We’re thrilled to have MarAd as a partner and to have their fiscal support to help prove our ongoing emission-reduction technology,” Barker said. “These types of public-private collaborations will fuel the advancement of cutting-edge technologies to promote more sustainable solutions in the shipping industry.”

Exhaust gas scrubbers reduce sulfur emissions to a level that meets or exceeds North American Emissions Control Area (ECA) requirements.

“This investment accelerates the growth of alternative fuel and environmental technologies throughout the United States’ maritime industry. This project will yield data that will support future commercial investment decisions and will provide lasting benefits for our nation while helping us reduce the industry’s environmental footprint,” said Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen. “This is how government can work to encourage technology advancement and environmental stewardship.”

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding handled the successful installation on the 806-foot Oberstar and was the choice to complete the second phase of installations on the 1,004-foot Barker and the 826-foot Tregurtha.

Both Lee A. Tregurtha and James R. Barker are equipped with the same single-inlet, closed-loop DuPont marine scrubbers from Belco Technologies Corp., a DuPont company, that were installed on Oberstar.

The scrubber units, which are attached to the exhaust system of each of the ship’s two engines, effectively strip the majority of sulfur from its stack emissions. Here’s how the systems work: Exhaust gas from the engine is sent through a series of absorption sprays that “wash” and remove impurities, specifically sulfur and particulate matter. That washed exhaust gas then travels through a droplet separator before a clean plume of white steam is discharged into the atmosphere.

Five Interlake vessels — including two additional 1,000-footers, M/V Paul R. Tregurtha and M/V Mesabi Miner — will be outfitted with these types of scrubbers by 2017.

As the first U.S.-flag fleet to implement the scrubber technology, the company was not only tasked with proving its emission-reduction capability but also taking the lead in developing a sustainable supply-and-delivery infrastructure to support its widespread use on the Great Lakes.

Specifically, the scrubber system relies on an injection of sodium hydroxide — to neutralize and remove sulfur from the exhaust gas — and that chemical has to be delivered to the vessel about twice a month.  

Working with partners Hawkins Inc., PVS Chemicals Inc., Garrow Oil & Propane and OSI Environmental, the company has established waterfront supply capability at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and Detroit, Mich. Calumet Specialties LLC has become a vital partner and stakeholder in the development of a new supply capability within the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis. A supply-and-delivery infrastructure is expected to be built out at ports located near East Chicago, Ill., and Burns Harbor, Ind.

Propelled by a long-term vision to create the most efficient and environmentally friendly fleet on the Great Lakes, Interlake is shoring up its 10-year, $100 million fleet modernization which includes the steam plant conversion program and the repower of its final vessel, Herbert C. Jackson.

By Professional Mariner Staff