The maritime industry is standing at the brink of a transformative era—one defined by a commitment to environmental consciousness and sustainability. Within this shifting landscape, innovations such as those in Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS), alkali bunkering, and ballast water management have emerged as guiding lights, promising not only emissions mitigation in the short term but also a profound reshaping of the industry’s economic and environmental trajectory in the medium and long term.
Having graduated from the Technical University in 2005, my own career has been a progression from the engine room to specialising in energy conservation, and the opportunity to contribute to the Engine Room Procedures Guide, Second Edition, was a compelling one. Beyond the immediate benefits for daily operations and inspections, collaborating with industry professionals allowed for the exchange of ideas and experiences. Having the Engine Room Procedures Guide on board will help the crew in many ways, from day-to-day activities to preparing for inspections and improving on existing procedures. This fusion of giving and taking, coupled with a collective commitment to improvement, defined the essence of this project.
EGCS and alkali bunkering
Recent advancements in EGCS, otherwise known as ‘scrubbers’ signal a positive trajectory for emissions reduction. Systems are becoming more efficient, compact and reliability is also increasing year on year. The updated MEPC.340 (77) 2021 Guidelines for EGCS outline crucial modifications, emphasising daily SO2/CO2 emission checks and improved monitoring and reporting tools. Additionally, studies support the positive impact of scrubbers, offering economic, not just ESG benefits for shipowners.
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In order to comply with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2015 Guidelines for Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS), EGCS must adhere to specified emission limits, monitoring parameters, and discharge criteria for wash water.
Clearly, to ensure compliance, shipowners and operators must stay informed about the latest IMO and local regulations related to EGCS. Effective communication and coordination with port authorities and other stakeholders are crucial for the smooth operation of these systems.
Technical performance is a key consideration, requiring EGCS to operate reliably under varying conditions, including fuel quality, engine load, seawater salinity, and ambient temperature. Compatibility with the ship’s design, power supply, and safety systems are also essential. The selection of the appropriate EGCS type and configuration, along with safe alkali bunkering, should be based on technical specifications, performance, and system compatibility. Regular testing, monitoring, and maintenance are necessary to ensure optimal functionality and efficiency.
Economic feasibility is another critical aspect, with both EGCS and alkali bunkering needing to be cost-effective and offer a reasonable return on investment. Costs encompass capital expenditure, installation, operation, maintenance, and EGCS certification, as well as the procurement, transportation, and consumption of alkali solutions. Benefits include fuel savings, emission reduction, and improved market competitiveness.
To make informed decisions, shipowners and operators should conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. This analysis should consider factors such as initial and operational costs, fuel price and availability, emission reduction, environmental impact, and the ship’s market demand and reputation.
Alkali bunkering is a more nuanced process involving both engine and deck departments, demanding strict adherence to safety protocols. The process of alkali bunkering execution presents complexities, where ensuring safety measures and compliance with stringent regulations becomes paramount. The potential environmental impact, particularly in altering pH levels in water, necessitates meticulous management to prevent adverse effects on aquatic life.
Implementing EGCS requires multifaceted solutions. The work is worth prize through because it is not only reduces emissions but also has been proven time and again to improve overall vessel efficiency. For shipowners to adopt green technologies more quickly than the regulations compel them to, there usually has to be an economic benefit to such changes.
The BWM Convention sets the stage for effective ballast water management, presenting challenges in compliance, system selection, sampling, and crew training. Adhering to these regulations ensures a proactive stance against invasive species transfer. However, integrating EGCS and Ballast Water Management Systems into existing vessels requires meticulous planning. Regulatory compliance, proper installation, maintenance, and cost considerations are key factors for seamless integration.
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International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention) became globally effective on September 8, 2017. This regulatory framework is designed to counteract the transfer of invasive species and facilitate a prompt and efficient response to invasions.
Addressing the challenges associated with the BWM Convention involves navigating several key aspects:
Compliance with regulations is paramount. The convention mandates that ships manage their ballast water to eliminate, neutralise, or prevent the intake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water. Additionally, the convention outlines criteria for testing, surveying, certifying, and verifying ballast water management systems, along with discharge water quality standards.
Efficient selection of a Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) is crucial for shipowners. It’s not just about opting for a type-approved system, but one that proves effective in practice.
Sampling procedures are essential and should be conducted in an area of well-mixed flow to ensure accuracy.
Crew training has emerged as a vital aspect of compliance too. Crew members need to be well-versed in the Convention’s requirements and adept at operating BWTS effectively.
Collaborative efforts will likely shape the industry’s future landscape.
Fortunately, collaboration among industry stakeholders appears to be on the up. It seems that in matters of greater existential concerns around the whole industry, and indeed the whole planet, companies are more prepared to park some of the intense competition of old and work together for collaborative solutions to the benefit of all. Collaboration, and increasingly a need for areas of consensus and industry standards are becoming indispensable for the rapid and effective advancement and widespread adoption of EGCS, alkali bunkering and BWTS technologies.
My firsthand experience has been a guiding force in contributing to the Engine Room Procedures Guide, Second Edition. It serves not only as a comprehensive resource for industry professionals but also as a bridge, connecting seasoned engineers with newcomers, ensuring a shared understanding of the quickly evolving maritime landscape.
For more information and to order the ICS Engine Room Procedures Guide, Second Edition, please visit: https://publications.ics-shipping.org/single-product.php?id=103
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The Engine Room Procedures Guide from ICS Publications is an authoritative resource offering comprehensive guidance for the safe and environmentally responsible operation of ships’ engine rooms. A companion to the globally recognised ICS Bridge Procedures Guide, it caters to all merchant ship types.
This guide details routine engine room procedures, featuring valuable checklists for the ship’s engineering team. Aligned with International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards, it ensures adherence to globally accepted practices. Aimed at Chief Engineers, engineering team members, shipping companies, and training institutions, the guide is a vital tool, and every merchant ship is advised to carry a copy.
This second edition incorporates updated content reflecting IMO regulations, addressing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It expands coverage, encompassing routine maintenance, emergency response protocols, and procedures for handling alternative fuels like liquefied natural gas. Emphasising safety, the guide incorporates the latest industry best practices for enclosed space entry. The user-friendly design facilitates easy access to information, supporting crew members in navigating the guide efficiently. This edition prioritises safety, aligning with the maritime industry’s commitment to crew well-being and environmental preservation.
In the ever-evolving landscape of maritime operations, staying ahead requires not only experience but also a commitment to innovation and sustainability. As an Energy Conservation Specialist with a journey that began as an oiler and led him to the role of Chief Engineer at Stolt Tankers, Ivan Stont’s passion for the industry has only deepened. Today, Ivan contributes to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) Publications as part of the team behind the Engine Room Procedures Guide.
Source: International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)