Although the shipping industry is effective, considered that it is cheap and can transport large volumes of goods, it is a major contributor to world pollution. The marine environmental impact is significant. Therefore, solutions are required immediately. See the below video to get a grasp of how much one single large cruise ship pollutes.
Advanced membrane technology is one of the keys to decarbonize the world’s shipping industry. This unique and innovative technology has brought about several pioneering filtration applications for a more sustainable future in accordance with the UN SDGs. Membranes can filter polluted scrubber wash water and purify seawater to such an extent that it is turned into drinking water. Membranes, thereby, protect our environment from pollution and enables us to preserve our scarce freshwater resources. Learn more about how ceramic membranes work.
For the shipping industry, two innovative solutions seem apparent to adopt.
Solution 1) Closed-loop scrubbers
With the IMO 2020, implementing closed-loop scrubbers seems even more critical in order to obtain a compliant operation. Learn more about the IMO 2020 here. Closed-loop scrubbers ensure compliance with current and future environmental regulations by removing harmful sulfur oxides (SOx). This is for the benefit of the environment, wildlife, and human health. Besides compliance, this solution is extremely competitive. Although this solution is cost-intensive, it delivers significant returns in the form of fuel cost savings. With a closed-loop scrubber, you can continue to operate on HFO, which is often much cheaper than low sulfur fuel. Thus, you are secured a low OPEX. When the fuel price peaked on the 3rd of January, 2020, at $321.5/mt on a FOB Rotterdam barges basis, the return on investment was as low as 6 months. Yet, the fuel price spread constantly changes. Still, return on investment is typically within 1-3 years, bringing forth an advantageous financial outlook for closed-loop scrubbers.
Solution 2) Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO)
With the water scarcity facing today's world, it seems apparent to protect the world's scarce freshwater resources. This is enabled by seawater reverse osmosis, a system that can purify seawater into drinking water using RO membranes. This solution provides an unlimited amount of freshwater and removes concerns about being shore-bound due to low freshwater levels onboard a vessel. And with no large freshwater tanks, weight and space can be saved, leading to energy efficiency.
But besides green tech solutions, more and more environmental restrictions are also implemented to sustain our earth. Regulations are both seen locally, regionally, and globally. And although local and regional efforts are a great start, it is not sufficient to comply with the UN SDGs before 2030. These need to be global to ensure an international effort, as seen with the IMO 2020. Moreover, it is also expected that the IMO will sanction a new work plan at its next Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), discussing environmental issues under IMO’s remit. This new work plan focuses on aligning the regulations and bans for scrubber wash water discharges internationally. Here, they can decide when, where, or if scrubber wash water discharged should be sanctioned. And all these global restrictions combined with innovative green tech solutions seem to be the lever for endless opportunities for a sustainable shipping industry.
Want to learn more?
Visit our Marine Knowledge site to learn everything worth knowing about marine scrubbers, wash water treatment, and how to comply with the IMO 2020 sulfur cap.