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René Diks. Head of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems at Alfa Laval. ©Alfa Laval


David Hughes looks at some the of carbon capture development projects that are underway now

Scrubbers are a pre-process of most carbon capture storage (CCS) technologies, according to Anders Skibdal, CEO of scrubber manufacturer PureteQ.

October 25, 2021

He says: “In Europe most of the decarbonisation is planned to come from one or another CCS technology. In other words, if scrubbers are prohibited or limited the world will end up with a budget deficit on the carbon reduction scheme. Whether or not CCS technologies will end up on ships remains to be seen, but many reputed technology providers are working hard to make it happen. The immediate barrier is that most CCS technologies require a lot of energy and energy is a scarce resource onboard most ships”.


He adds: “In 2020 PureteQ and associated company EStech began a research program into CCS technology and have now applied for patent on a process that combines carbon capture from exhaust gas with hydrogen production. Combining the processes allow for lower cost of removing/reducing CO2 as some of these costs are offset by earnings/benefit of producing hydrogen. PureteQ is also involved in a project based on an American patent of chemical sequestering of CO2. The process transforms the CO2 to sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), which in turn can be used to augment the oceans natural carbon cycle or other purposes. The third project that we are involved in is based on a Dutch Electro CO2 patent and is simply improving the dominant process of amine scrubbing to make the process more efficient.”


Meanwhile Japan’s “K” Line has been conducting a joint project with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Class NK to develop a CO2 capture plant onboard a vessel as part of the company’s Research and Development for Advancing Marine Resources Technologies programme. A small CO2 capture plant has been installed on the coal carrier Corona Utility, operated by “K” LINE for Tohoku Electric Power Co, at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Yokohama Works (MHI).


After departure of the vessel from MHI, experts from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding will be on board the vessel for one voyage to commission the small plant, evaluate its operation performance at sea, and analyse the captured CO2. After that, until March 2022, the ship’s crew will evaluate the operation, safety and operability of the plant.

In another project involving Japan, Alfa Laval and the country’s National Maritime Research Institute (NMRI) say they have succeeded in onboard CO2 capture testing using an exhaust gas cleaning system.


Initiated by NMRI, the CO2 capture testing project was designed to provide real-world validation of results achieved in the lab. Since it required a proven, full-scale hybrid scrubber system, Alfa Laval PureSOx played an important role. A Japanese shipowner associated with the research, who had installed PureSOx for SOx compliance on a newbuild, arranged with Alfa Laval and the shipyard to include the testing in the vessel’s sea trials.


“Alfa Laval PureSOx is a proven solution with a long track record in SOx abatement,” says René Diks, Head of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems at Alfa Laval. “The positive results from our project with NMRI Japan show that scrubber technology could also play a role in removing carbon at sea.”


Alfa Laval sees CCS as a potential bridge technology, offering the possibility to extract carbon from emissions until carbon-neutral fuels become more viable. In a full CCS solution, carbon removed from a vessel’s exhaust gas would be stored to prevent it from entering the atmosphere. For this project, the scope was limited to showing that a scrubber could perform the CO2 capture on board. The modified PureSOx system was able to absorb CO2 from the auxiliary diesel engines in port, while operating in closed loop.


“Both short-term and long-term solutions will be needed to achieve IMO Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” says Diks. “Much development is needed before CCS can be deployed at sea, but this preliminary testing showed clear potential in the approach. Though designed to remove SOx, PureSOx demonstrated its ability to remove CO2 while operating in closed loop.”

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