Ships consume heavy fuel oil, in general. This oil contains sulphur which create significant amount of Sulphur Oxides (SOx). SOx are known to be harmful to human health, air and marine environment. In order to limit marine SOx emissions, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has introduced the regulation MARPOL Annex VI by which limits for emissions are set to 0,1% for Emission Control Areas and 0,5% globally concerning SOx. To comply with the new regulations ship-owners should invest a lot to technical solutions like using low sulphur fuel oil, hybrid oil, biofuels, and liquefied natural gas. In most cases, Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) are used with the new fuel. The proposed fuels are expensive, scarce and could create problems to the existing vessel engines, which are not designed for these types of fuel. Scrubbers, which is the most common EGCS solution for the exhaust gasses is an unattractive or even impossible solution with the new standards. Usually they can remove SOx up to 95% (below the limit) and they use large amount of acid wash water disposed to the sea. Additionally, Flag States must approve such systems and port States can (as part of their port state control) ensure that such systems are functioning correctly. If a scrubber system is not functioning properly, port States can sanction the ship.
A Greek SME company, which specializes in environmental engineering, develops an innovative solution based on an innovative closed-loop scrubber which achieves almost complete neutralisation of sulphur. At the same time the engine could use the common heavy fuel that is available globally today. The solution is tested using chemistry simulation tools in collaboration with a Greek university. The design stage is already completed and the technology is close to production and commercial installation in ships on board. The system theoretically is able to eliminate 99.7% (constant and non-floating value) of the SOx exhausted by the ship's chimneys. The system uses seawater for its operation and disposes only a fraction of it to the sea with a pH of 8. This water is not contaminated with harmful substances since the water is not in contact with the exhaust gases.
The Greek company is looking for joint venture collaboration with engineering companies for developing further the system and join together for common commercial exploitation. Alternatively, financial agreement with a shipping company or investor to proceed to the stage of prototype development/creation prior to commercializing the product.