Rates of acid rain, respiratory illnesses and even cancer can be reduced through the proper choice of exhaust cleaning solutions. The result is lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions, which leads to purer air, and healthier humans and animals. "It’s simple. We don’t want these harmful substances in the air," says Kai Låtun, chief sales and marketing officer at Yara Marine Technologies, which provides scrubbers to reduce SOx levels and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system to minimise NOx emissions.

Efficient and safe alkali

Låtun suggests thinking of the SCR system as something similar to what is found in cars and trucks, but just several sizes larger. In a succinct explanation of the inner workings of the system, he says, "We install a reactor equipped with a reagent through which we push the exhaust. The chemical reaction takes away the NOx, splitting it into pure nitrogen and water. That’s the short version."

For SOx emissions, Yara Marine Technologies offers a scrubber system that works a little differently. Washing the exhaust in seawater causes a reaction to occur, during which SOx molecules are discharged from the vessel into the sea in the form of sulphates that occur naturally.

Vessels in ports or coastal areas are often not allowed to discharge water and instead have to circulate it on board. However, this motion means the water ceases to be effective in neutralising the emissions, as it becomes full of sulphuric acid. This is where an alkali becomes essential and is the reason why Yara Marine Technologies uses a magnesium oxide (MgO) solution.

"There are basically two alkalis in use," Låtun says. "One is caustic soda, which you can tell by the name is dangerous or hazardous to handle, and is not allowed in many ports. Our system uses MgO, which is completely harmless and more efficient."

Scrubbers can be divided into two categories: packbed or in-line, the latter being what Yara Marine Technologies uses. Packbeds need an alkali, such as caustic soda, that dissolves in water otherwise particles will clog it up. In-line systems, however, can use a safe MgO solution. "Safety is a big concern," Låtun says. "And the MgO alkali is harmless, while caustic soda is hazardous."

Big solutions

The company’s ability to provide solutions to reduce NOx and SOx is one of the reasons it stands apart from its competitors. "We are by far the largest supplier of NOx emission equipment, and also one of the three largest suppliers of SOx emissions equipment," Låtun says. "This makes us one of the most experienced and well-documented suppliers in the market."

Låtun can back up the boast with figures: Yara Marine Technologies has had more than 1,600 SCR systems in operation in the past 15 years and its scrubber systems have accrued more than one million operating hours.

This longevity is attributed to Yara Marine Technologies’ development of systems that are immune to corrosion. "We put a very high emphasis on material quality and can offer extended lifetime guarantees for our products to last the remaining lifetime of the vessel," Låtun says.

International compliance

Yara Marine Technologies’ solutions are also in full compliance with all international maritime regulations, as well as local regulations and guidelines. Despite laying claim to hardy systems with hours of graft to prove their mettle, Yara Marine Technologies is not a company to rest on its past achievements. Continuing to invest in its R&D budget, it constantly aims to improve existing products and launch novel solutions for its customers.

"We are already among the smallest and lightest installations the market offers," Låtun says. "But we want to make our products even smaller, lighter and easier to adapt with various vessels, as this is a major concern for owners."

Each vessel alone cannot be held responsible for calamities such as acid rain and lung diseases, but owners and operators can do their part to reduce emissions. Yara Marine Technologies offers solutions to lower NOx and SOx levels that are robust enough to last a ship’s lifetime.