A greener way

Yara Marine Technologies came into existence in 2014 following the acquisition of Greentech Marine, founded in 2008, by global industrial chemical corporation Yara International. With scrubber technology relatively new to the shipping industry Yara Marine Technologies occupies a global position amongst the top flight of manufacturers, and is often seen to be leading the way. “We were the first into the market with inline scrubbers,” begins Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Kai Latun. “Now there are no other inline scrubber manufacturers in the market with the same level of experience as us in terms of operational hours.”

In a burgeoning and ever-evolving market such as marine scrubber technology, being able to drive innovation and cost effectiveness into its products is crucial for Yara Marine Technologies to maintain this leading position. However, there are three areas where Yara Marine Technologies offers competitive advantages. “Firstly we have a scrubber system that has been proven to work since 2011 and have therefore developed a lot of experience and understanding,” he says. “Secondly, is our emphasis on lifetime durability of the scrubber tower.

“This is a system that is exposed to an extremely aggressive environment in terms of corrosion because it sees large temperature variations from ambient right up to 400 degrees Celsius and is hosting a combination of alkalis and acids mixed with sea water. We use fairly sophisticated stainless steel materials to provide long term durability in line with the actual vessel’s lifetime, reducing the risk of corrosion breakdown and expensive replacement costs.

“Finally is the fact that we offer magnesium oxide (MgO) as the alkali in closed-loop applications, as opposed to caustic soda (sodium hydroxide – NaOH), which other manufacturers use.” When operating in zero discharge areas a vessel’s scrubber systems automatically switches to a closed-loop cycle, reusing the seawater with an alkali ensuring the scrubbing process continues as required. “There are two reasons why we use MgO over caustic soda here,” explains Kai. “Firstly, caustic soda is hazardous in use for the ship’s crew, whereas MgO is completely harmless. Health and safety always features very heavily in everything Yara Marine Technologies commits to, so this consideration is important.

“The second advantage is that MgO has a far lower operational cost. The price per tonne is more or less the same as caustic soda depending on variations, but the volume of MgO required in a scrubber system is only approx. one quarter of your corresponding caustic soda requirement. Being this much more efficient, the cost per system is far reduced in comparison, both in terms of alkali consumption cost and with respect to required storage space on board.”

In terms of the market conditions Kai notes that competition is tough with many other players quickly adopting similar designs and innovations. Pressure is further increased in a global shipping economy where – thanks to such low oil prices – ultra low sulphur bunker fuels are still providing cost effective solutions to overcome ECA (emission control area) challenges. Despite this he remains confident that by continuing to push on with innovation Yara Marine Technologies will be able to remain on top. “One of the good things about having an international corporation such as Yara as our owner (one that employs over 12,000 people across 150 countries and turns over USD 15 billion), is the vast research and development capability it gives us,” Kai adds.

In October 2015, cruise ship M/V Norwegian Escape set sail for the first time with the world’s largest scrubber system installed onboard. The system, which is made up of five Yara Marine Technologies scrubbers – one for each engine – is reducing the sulphur emissions of a combined engine power of 76.8MW. “The market has been somewhat hesitant to make the move to scrubber technology mainly because of the low price differential between heavy fuel oil and marine gas oil,” says Kai. “However, despite the challenges this is creating, the response to this announcement has been positive. I don’t think everyone in the industry truly realised that you could successfully operate a scrubber system of that magnitude.”

In addition to its scrubber offering, Technologies is also the world’s largest supplier of marine SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) equipment, following the acquisition of German manufacturer, H und H in 2013. “As of January 1st 2016, IMO now regulates nitrogen oxides as well as sulphur oxides emissions,” Kai notes. “Being the largest supplier of marine NOx emissions abatement equipment (SCR reactors) we are the only complete one-stop-shop for all required emissions abatements equipment to marine customers. Competitors either offer SOx scrubbers or SCR reactors, we do both.”

With such a strong platform already established for itself, the future for Technologies looks set to be fruitful and Kai reflects this sentiment as he looks towards the company’s future. “Quite simply the vision is to grow – knowledge grows,” he says. “To maintain our large market share and to continue developing new products to bring value to our customers.” He is also confident that more and more opportunities will open up and market uptake of scrubber technology will increase as time goes by. “The IMO is currently evaluating whether it is feasible to implement a global 0.5 per cent sulphur limit on fuel in 2020,” he notes. “They are looking into whether there are sufficient levels of low-sulphur fuels or alternative solutions like scrubbers available for such a regulation to be possible. However, my opinion is that with the current economic and political environment surrounding global climate change as it is, it would be infeasible for them not to bring in such standards and it will be interesting to see what opportunities this brings for us.”

Yara Marine Technologies
Formerly Greentech Marine

Now part of Yara International

Recently installed the largest scrubber system in the world