The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Coast Guard have granted Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd temporary exemption from the new sulphur limits in emission control areas (ECAs).
Royal Caribbean has been given permission to meet ECA requirements by installing exhaust gas cleaning systems – known as scrubber technology – on more of its cruise ships, rather than by modifying engines and fuel systems.
On 22 December, Royal Caribbean revealed plans to retrofit 19 ships across several of its brands with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems.
Royal Caribbean has developing and testing AEP technology since 2010. The systems ‘scrub’ exhaust gases by injecting high volumes of water spray into the exhaust stream, removing more than 97% of the sulphur dioxide emissions generated by the ships’ diesel engines.
The technology has the potential to provide greater emission reductions than would be achieved using only ECA compliant low-sulphur fuel, and at a much lower cost.
AEP technology has already been installed onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas and TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 3. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas has been operating one of its six engines with a retrofitted AEP system for two years.
“AEP technology for maritime vessels is very new and we expect that by utilising multiple technological solutions to accommodate the differences among our ships, additional development will ultimately help industrialise AEP technology even more, which will benefit not only RCL but also the larger maritime industry,” said Adam Goldstein, president and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Royal Caribbean has contracted Swedish company Alfa Laval and Finnish firm Wärtsilä to provide the AEP technology, while additional companies have been hired to execute the installations.
In January 2015, Royal Caribbean will begin a project to install the AEP systems on 13 Royal Caribbean International ships and six Celebrity Cruises ships. Taking place during scheduled dry-dockings and while ships are in service, each installation will take around eight months to complete. While preliminary work has begun on several of the ships receiving AEP systems, most will take place between 2015 and 2017.
Royal Caribbean’s trial programme will also provide valuable information on developing advanced emissions control technologies for other marine engines.