Big improvement has been done in order to produce sustainable energy for shipping; wind; solar; methanol or even hydrogen. However we cannot wait until they are ready, because it’s uncertain when they will be popular and especially when they will be affordable; 20, 30, 40 years. It’s time to make some actions. The shipbuilding industry is giving an example to the world with the sulphur cap which is quite challenging for the entire industry. However, there is no need to worry as the scrubber technology is ready to overcome the situation.

How is China participating for SOx reduction?

  • 1 January 2017 - 11 key ports were identified within the three ECAs(Bohai in the north, Yangtze in Shanghai area, and Pearl in the south).
  • 1 January 2018 -  the at-berth low sulphur requirement will be extended to all ports located within the three Chinese ECAs.
  • 1 January 2019 - 50% fuel sulphur limit will extend to ships operating within the Chinese ECAs. 12 miles coverage.
  • End of 2019 - Chinese government is scheduled to determine if the fuel sulphur limit in its domestic ECAs should be reduced to 0.10%.

The following graphic from the EGCSA easily explains what it is achieved. Thanks to the Sulfur Cap, we avoid SOx emissions to the atmosphere which is the reason for ACID RAIN, among others.

Many people were worried about if instead of sending SOx to the atmosphere, we are sending them to the oceans. However, is the Sulfur from EGC going to bring side-effects to the Oceans?

Oceans naturally contain sulphates, mainly because of volcanic activity. Some studies already confirm that the sulphates can be lethal for the Marine Plankton. If we try to quantify this impact we will see that by adding all the sulfur contained in all the reserves of oil globally using scrubbers into the oceans, there is an increase of 0,058% sulphates in the oceans. At that time we are run out of oil, but the impact is negligible.

Bluesoul believes that the Sulphur Cap requires partnership, especially to satisfy all the potential retrofits that are ahead. Among many others, Bluesoul has achieved in less than 2 years very important strategic cooperation agreements and now is able to provide a Turnkey solution to complete Exhaust Gas Cleaning project (Design, Manufacturing and installation) and for sure will provide Global service. Recently, the company started negotiations with Global Technical Services companies.

The technology adopting curve below shows for instance that Bluesoul started in 2011 to develop its own patented technology through Universities, Research institutes and Governmental Funds. Although others started earlier than Bluesoul, now in 2017, BlueSoul is ready for mass installation.


Markers, ship owners and shipyards must work together because the possible tough scenarios.

Those who prefer to use Low sulfur Fuels, MGO will face high Operating Cost. With Scrubber, the ROI can be only 1,3 years for a vessel operating 200days in ECA and with 200USD/ton fuel price difference.

BlueSoul further gives training to shipyards in China, but is also ready to do it internationally.

2020 is getting close, thus, BlueSoul is introducing its Exhaust Gas Cleaning System. No matter for retrofit or new buildings, shipowners require a turnkey solution. The Exhaust Gas Cleaning system uses equipment and components well known in the industry, but the key is the control system, which must be fully automatic, included GPS real time tracking and auto-mode switch once you enter in the ECA. Moreover, there is some new equipment that the crew of the ship might not be so familiar with, like the water treatment unit, alkali agent unit or continuous emissions monitoring system. Proper training and global service are very important for the turnkey solution in order to ensure a well operation during the whole life of the system.

Scrubber design considerations

  • Customers are going to face multiple questions, and sometimes headaches, during the Technical agreement. The concerns are, reliable operation and  compliance with regulation
  • During the design process, there is need to know, the type of vessel and type of engine MCR; ECA Time, all these factors do influence the final design.
  • Then comes the system design. Open-close or Hybrid. With Hybrid mode biggest range of flexibility may be achieved, however is the most pricy.
  • Bluesoul supplies both U or I type. Funnel space is the key factor, especially in retrofit projects.
  • Alkali agent for Close-Loop. MgO (Magnesium Oxide) is cheaper but not easy to find in many ports. NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide) is a bit more expensive but easy to get everywhere. Bluesoul goes for NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide), but dont put away dry scrubbers for the future.
  • Some Scrubbers use packing bed to increase surface contact efficiency between Exhaust gas and the scrubbing water, then a By-Pass is needed.
  • Some makers are using a venturi in the the U-types, but this increases the complexity.
  • Single or Multiple Scrubbers are mainly related with type of vessel, and their Service operation profile.
  • Back pressure has to take in account in order to avoid damage in the engine.

As far as the retrofit planning in terms of a scrubber, usually it’s going to take 5 months or maybe less during the negotiation among shipowner-shipyard and maker. Since the contract is signed, makers and shipyard needs about 4 months for manufacturing and retrofit preparation. Then the installation, depending of the project should last no longer than 2 to 4 weeks.

At this point the vessel is already operational and the rest of the job (tuning, testing, commissioning and to obtain the certificates) could be done with the vessel in operation.  Besides 6 years of Research and Development, BlueSoul is currently facing the great moment of the installations and testing of its 2 first references.

Difficult times for Ship Owners

There are three main choices to comply with the Sulfur Cap (Low Sulfur Fuel MGO, LNG, or Scrubber). If the main concern is the cost, especially for Retrofit projects, the current Fuel price scenarios shows very clear that Scrubber is the best choice in regards or operation expenses. In addition, Scrubber gives to the vessel flexibility to adapt to the market and always comply with IMO. Another big issue will be for example the Fuel Availability, in case of LNG. Last but not least, shipowners are looking Financial Package to face better the new situation.

Above text is an edited article of Andrés Gómez presentation during 2017 GREEN4SEA Conference & Awards

You may view his presentation video by clicking here

Click here to view all the presentations of 2017 GREEN4SEA Conference & Awards


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  GREEN4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.


Andrés Gómez, Global Market Director, Shanghai BlueSoul Environmental Technology Co. Ltd & Commercial Manager at Ocean Wing International Trading Co. Ltd.

Andres Gomez holds MBA and Bachelor degree in Marine Engineering. His target is development of a greener environment, bringing existing technologies in to real applications. With more than 8 years participating in International projects between Asia and Europe in Shipbuilding and Clean Energy industries. He has Technical background combined with Business development experience acquired in a multi-discipline and multi-cultural ventures. He is working in his PhD research for real applications for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies.

He is proud to be part of BlueSoul project and Global Challenge of reducing emissions in Shipbuilding industry. Overseas Sales and After sales network development is the target for OceanWing.