Future fuel options and emission control

Future fuel options and emission control

Ship owners will be facing new requirements, as the year 2020 will see the advent of the global 0.5% fuel sulphur regulation, which concerns at least 70,000 ships worldwide. In addition, there are several local areas called ECAs, which already limit fuel sulphur levels to 0.1%. The number of ECAs is expected to grow in the future. The figure below shows a summary of the current and future global sulphur limit areas.

Global sulphur limits now and in the future.

In addition to limiting sulphur and its oxides (SOx), the United States is already enforcing nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels with Tier III regulation in its coastal waters. The North Sea, English Channel and Baltic Sea will follow in 2021.

Furthermore, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) limits are tightening every five years. Currently, we are living in Phase 1, which lasts until the end of 2019 and requires average reductions of about 10% to the original baseline set by IMO. In 2020 and 2025, further reductions are due, 20% in Phase 2 and 30% in Phase 3, respectively. Additional phases may follow. In other words, in each phase it is even more challenging to design an EEDI-compliant ship. The choice of fuel or other new technologies becomes crucial in ensuring that the ship’s index is below the baseline and that the vessel can actually be built.

In the future, completely new regulations will also probably be adopted concerning particulate matter, black carbon and CO2. Thus, the marine industry needs solutions, which are valid longer than for just the next few years.

All these matters call for the ship owner to make difficult decisions when deciding on the compliancy alternative for both new and existing ships as we advance towards 2020 and the new decade. The main options are:

  • Low-sulphur distillates (mainly low-sulphur version of marine gas oil, MGO)
  • Other new low-sulphur variants, such as low-sulphur heavy fuel oil (HFO) or hybrid blends
  • Continuing the use of conventional, high-sulphur (3.5%-S) HFO with exhaust gas cleaning technology (scrubbers)
  • Switching to LNG
  • Using another type of alternative fuel, such as methanol or hydrogen (fuel cells)
  • Renewable power generation as a supplementary method (solar, wind)

There are a huge variety of options compared to the traditional HFO/MDO-combination, which has dominated the shipping industry so far. In addition to sulphur-related issues, you also need to be aware of compliancy towards nitrogen. Because of this, low-pressure gas engine technology, exhaust gas recirculation or abatement with SCR all have to be kept in mind, since nitrogen oxides are mainly caused by the diesel combustion process rather than the fuel itself. In addition, as mentioned, EEDI must be taken into account too.

All of these options have their advantages and drawbacks so the decision should be made after careful analysis, case-by-case. The starting point is a feasibility study, which usually takes the form of basic technical analysis (providing engine and fuel system alternatives) supplemented with a financial analysis. This kind of a study should be carried out at the earliest possible stage of the ship project, when all the big decisions are still open for debate and different alternative scenarios can be studied.

From the ship owner, basic operational data and ship characteristics are required for the study, such as:

  • Ship type and size
  • Engine plant configuration
  • Operational profile and route data along with possibilities to bunker different fuels
  • Goals and constraints regarding CAPEX, OPEX, payback times and other financial issues
  • Other relevant data

Deltamarin has large internal databases of CAPEX and OPEX costs, which can be applied in a straightforward fashion to the customer’s given situation.

The outcome is a written study, aided with calculations, tables and drawings. Clear conclusions and alternatives will be presented, so the aim of the study is to provide the bottom line for each alternative, so that the ship owner will have clear waters to make the most justified decision for his/her company and fleet.

As an example, Deltamarin has carried out extensive research and created many different kinds of concepts with LNG as fuel for ships. Check out our latest novel designs, which enable LNG for long ocean voyages or ask our team to find out if LNG is the right solution for you.

However, it is not just the fuel that matters. Together with our Energy Efficiency team, we can introduce state-of-the-art waste heat recovery equipment to the ship design, or even simulate the whole engine plant and all the auxiliaries in real time.

Contact us and let us help in choosing the best alternatives for you!

For more information, please contact

Esa Jokioinen
Sales, offshore
Tel. +358 2 4336 344
Mobile +358 40 834 8112
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