Shipping sets a green sail

In future, ships sailing on the world’s oceans will release less sulfur into the atmosphere. With its components for exhaust gas cleaner systems, Freudenberg is helping to make this possible. 

A new directive of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) effective since January 1, now requires more than 90,000 ships that sail the world’s seas to reduce their sulfur emissions by 77 percent. This has accelerated the implementation of environmentally friendly technologies in the industry. Freudenberg’s metal expansion joints are a key component in a so-called scrubber, a device used to remove sulfur from exhaust gas. Both knowhow and service from the EagleBurgmann Business Group are now very much in demand.

In early 2020, a new IMO threshold came into force. Whereas the previous limit was 3.5 percent, now marine fuel may only contain a mere 0.5 percent sulfur. In the North and Baltic Seas, a limit of 0.1 percent has been in effect for some time. The IMO expects the move will lead to a reduction of 8.5 million tons of sulfur dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Sulfur dioxide may be responsible for triggering lung disease in humans and causing acid rain. But shipowners are having sleepless nights over the implementation of the stricter regulation. While marine diesel and marine gas oil are cleaner than the high-sulfur heavy fuel oil used until now, they are at least double the cost. Neither is there a reliable infrastructure for liquefied petroleum gas, which also makes rebuilding the propulsion system necessary.

When connecting the scrubbers, our customers rely on the engineering expertise that EagleBurgmann has developed in expansion joints over the past 50 years.

Amin Alborzi, Sales Director

The role of expansion joints

The one-off integration of a scrubber as an exhaust cleaning system in the ship’s funnel is for many the best option. EagleBurgmann’s metal expansion joints are needed to connect the scrubbers at the flue’s inlet and outlet and to the pipelines. They protect the scrubber and the equipment to which it is attached by compensating vibration and movement from thermal expansion in the pipes or at the joints due to the heat of the exhaust gas.

“From freighters to tankers and cruise ships – all kinds of ships are currently being retrofitted with scrubbers,” says Amin Alborzi. The expert for expansion joints at EagleBurgmann in Denmark has already undertaken 20 retrofit projects in partnership with exhaust gas scrubber manufacturers.  After all, it is not only newly built ships that need to clean up in compliance with the IMO directive. All ships that set sail – more than 90,000 – are affected.

An agile environment

“When connecting the scrubbers, our customers rely on the engineering expertise that EagleBurgmann has developed in expansion joints over the past 50 years,” says Alborzi. Agility is also in demand. “The market dictates a fast pace.” After all, having secured a shipyard, shipping companies then need a scrubber manufacturer able to respond rapidly and develop a concept in two to three days. The experts at the Freudenberg Business Group are well prepared for working in an agile environment and can design the right expansion joint within just a few hours. A modular product design and constant availability of the right material allow EagleBurgmann to remain flexible.

“The finished products often need to be ready for installation on site just two to three weeks later,” says Alborzi. To secure a competitive advantage and provide shipping companies with a reliable end-to-end solution, many suppliers now integrate EagleBurgmann into their scrubber projects from the outset.

Every project is unique

Often, the space for installing the system is limited and the available data incomplete. “Some ships are 30 years old and no-one ever factored in a retrofit,” says Jan Grodzinski, Key Account Manager for Mechanical Engineering at EagleBurgmann. Existing pipelines must be cut to size and modified. “All over the world, our experts look at the conditions on site and pass on the specifications to us,” says Grodzinski. They might say: “We have 10 by 5 by 5 meters. Please provide an appropriate solution.” Choosing the right components and steel grade depends mainly on the design, dimensions and type of scrubber, as well as the pipe system used. Standard certification from the most important certification organizations for all components reduces the amount of documentation for retrofit projects. 

With 150 expansion joints having now been installed in scrubbers, Jan Grodzinski concludes: “There have never been any malfunctions with our technologies. We’re proud to be able to provide a fast, competent and reliable service to our customers.”