Wartsila to equip new Algoma lakers with exhaust scrubbers

In the largest maritime order for exhaust scrubbers ever in North America, Wärtsilä Ship Power will supply scrubbers for at least six new lakers built for Algoma Central Corp.

Wärtsilä, the Finnish marine engineering and propulsion specialists, has been awarded the contract to provide freshwater integrated scrubbers to cleanse emissions from the new bulk carriers. The pact with Canada's Algoma includes an option to equip two additional boats, for a potential total of eight.

The new Equinox-class vessels are being built to transport bulk commodities on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. All are being constructed in China at Nantong Mingde Heavy Industry Co. Ltd.

"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," said Juhani Hupli, vice president of ship power technology at Wärtsilä Ship Power. "The Wärtsilä integrated scrubber solution removes more than 97 percent of sulfur oxides emissions."

Rob Houston, technical director for Algoma Central, said the equipment is being installed to meet Emission Control Area regulations.

"This technology meshes with our design concepts in regards to the Equinox-class vessels — that of improving the efficiency of our fleet while at the same time reducing our environmental footprint," he said.

The closed-loop system diverts exhaust gases from the vessel's main engines, auxiliary generators and oil heaters to a scrubber mounted in the funnel of the vessel. Fresh water is misted into the scrubber, and sulfur dioxide emissions and particulate matter are collected in the stream. The system water is first treated to neutralize the acidic effects of the sulfur and then undergoes a secondary treatment to remove soot, heavy metals and other contaminants to meet International Maritime Organization environmental regulations. The clean effluents are led to a holding tank for periodic discharge and the contaminants are disposed of at port facilities.

While the Equinox-class scrubbers may not be the largest of their kind, the Wärtsilä contract totaling $12 million is the biggest single order, given that it is for a series of six vessels. Algoma Central, based in St. Catharines, Ontario, is Canada's largest laker operator.

The yard is building two gearless bulk carriers and four self-unloading bulk carriers, with deliveries beginning in 2013. Each will be 740 feet long and 78 feet wide — the maximum size for the Seaway.

"From a marine point of view, this is new technology and as each vessel is unique to a certain extent, and as the operation on the Great Lakes can be so different from that in other maritime zones, the technology has to be designed around the requirements of the vessel's operating environment." Houston said.

Because fresh water from the Great Lakes will be used, there will be less or no need to produce fresh water aboard the vessel.

Houston said Algoma did not receive any subsidies or incentives for installation aboard the new lakers.

By Professional Mariner Staff