Seatrade Maritime is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

New study finds use of heavy fuel with scrubbers can help reduce GHG emissions

A recent Norwegian study has concluded that the continued use of heavy fuel oil with exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), or scrubbers, will have a positive effect on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Chief scientist Dr Elizabeth Lindstad of Norway’s SINTEF, an independent research organisation, said that based on the energy consumed during the global production of distillates, the continued use of residual fuel is in fact better for the environment given the energy required to produce distillates would result in higher levels of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.

Lindstad shared the findings with the Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA 2020), saying: “[Studies] indicate that two-stroke engines with Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and scrubbers represent the most cost- and GHG-effective way of meeting both IMO Tier 3 NOx rules and the 2020 sulphur cap.”

SINTEF’s findings are based on research involving full scale testing on a number of newbuild vessels.

“With new modern refineries set up to convert crude into higher priced products, HSFO will, from 2020, be delivered from existing refineries where its share of energy consumption can be considered to be next to nothing. The explanation is that the heavy bunker oil coming out from the refinery is the bottom of the barrel. If we acknowledge the lower energy consumption in delivering HSFO and deduct the refining we get 9 to 10g of CO2 equivalent per MJ for HFO, rather than 13 to 15 of CO2 equivalent per MJ for LSFO/MGO.”

Lindstad believes that emissions abatement rules need to be reviewed to consider pollution problems in different areas.

“To meet climate targets, i.e. reduce global GHG emissions, we can no longer afford to have standards that are strict in areas where we do not have local pollution problems, while areas with high pollution may need even stricter rules than today,” Lindstad told CSA 2020.

CSA 2020 welcomed the new research results, which indicate that continued use of residual fuels with a scrubber can help towards global CO2 reduction.

Read more: EGCSA predicts 4,000 scrubber equipped ships by January 2020

Ian Adams, CSA2020 executive director, said the industry has long realised that there is an energy penalty differential in the production of fuels.

“With reduced particulates in exhaust emissions of 75% or more, the combination of dramatically reduced SOx and particulates makes a big difference in improved air quality and lower health risks,” Adams said.

“This study provides further scientific evidence that both local SOx and NOx to air and global CO2 emissions will be reduced by the expanded use of HFO with exhaust gas cleaning systems in the marine fleet, with benefits to the marine and port environments and, of course, human health,” he added.