Are You Prepared For The 2020 Cap on Sulphur Emissions?

Sulphur emissions are one of the major components of air pollution.

They cause respiratory diseases, contribute to acid rain and form aerosol gases. Because of the high content of sulphur compounds in marine fuels, the maritime industry has always been a huge part of the problem.

The IMO has been working to reduce the environmental impact of shipping since as far back as the 1960s and their latest initiative is to introduce a cap on sulphur emissions that will come into force on 1st January 2020.

The New 2020 Regulation

Regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex will set a limit of 0.50% m/m on the sulphur content of fuel oil used by ships – a dramatic reduction from the current 3.50% limit.

The sulphur content of oil is lowered by refining, but the maritime industry has traditionally used mostly low-grade fuel oils like heavy oil and diesel oil, both of which have a high sulphur content. Therefore, the main aim of the new regulation is to ensure that marine engines use a low-sulphur oil or a better grade of fuel such as marine gas oil.

Enforcement

Ships must be issued with an International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) Certificate by their flag state which states that they use a fuel oil that’s compliant with the new regulation. When they take on fuel, they must also obtain a bunker delivery note that details the oil’s sulphur content. Samples may be taken to verify this, and port and coastal states can use surveillance, assess smoke plumes and apply many other techniques to catch out vessels that attempt to evade the 0.50% m/m limit.

Vessels that fail to comply can be fined and may even be declared unseaworthy, stopping them from sailing.

Impact on shipping

Approximately 90% of world trade is by sea and global shipping currently consumes around four million barrels of high sulphur fuel oil per day. It’s estimated that fuel accounts for about half of a ship’s daily operating cost so the new regulation will have a huge impact on the industry.

Based on average consumption of 20 to 80 tonnes of fuel a day, a vessel using cleaner fuel can expect to face extra daily expenses of about $6,000 to $20,000. Overall, global shipping costs are expected to rise by at least a quarter and analysts say that the maritime industry is not prepared for the change.

How to comply

There are three main ways of making sure your vessels meet the standards required by the new regulation. However, all of them come with added costs and challenges.

Use compliant fuels
This is the most straightforward solution – ships can simply switch to a low sulphur fuel without the need to fit expensive new equipment. These low sulphur fuels have an extended refining process which removes a much larger amount of the sulphur content. However, the process means that fuel can cost up to 50% more and there are concerns that refiners may struggle to meet demand when the new regulations take effect.

Install exhaust gas cleaning systems
Known as ‘scrubbers’, these clean the ship’s emissions before they’re released into the atmosphere, stripping out the sulphur content. They enable vessels to continue using lower grade fuel while still meeting the IMO’s new regulation.

Many vessels are already using scrubbers and, by 2020, around 20,000 ships are expected to be equipped. However, fitting them takes time and there are only a limited number of manufacturers and installers – only around 500 vessels per year can be equipped. With a global fleet of over 90,000 vessels, this means that fitting every ship with scrubbers would take over 100 years.

The installation of adequate scrubbing equipment is also expensive, costing between $1-$10million per vessel. Additionally, if the equipment should break down while the vessel is at sea, operators would be faced with even more costs as well as significant operational difficulties.

Use clean gas LNG as fuel
This is a considerably greener alternative to oil and is seen as much more viable in the long term because it reduces sulphur emissions by up to 95%. As with scrubbers, this option does involve a large investment when it comes to installation as converting existing ships to run on LNG requires them to be re-engined. The fuel store and insulation equipment also take up a large amount of valuable space on board and currently, few ports have the necessary infrastructure to supply vessels.

Despite this, an increasing number of ships are beginning to use LNG in preparation for the new IMO regulation. Methanol is also being used as a fuel source on some short sea services.

What steps are you taking to prepare for the cap on sulphur emissions?

This is a very difficult transitional period for the maritime industry – you need to make sure you’re ready for 1st January 2020.

Contact us to find out how we can help.

How to Recycle Your Gas Cylinders

In order to meet legal and industry requirements, and ensure safety in the workplace, it’s critical to that your gas-detection devices are functioning correctly. These gas detectors serve a vital role by monitoring environmental conditions and alerting us to potential leaks or hazardous conditions. Conducting frequent calibration tests means that you’ll be going through a lot of span gas—it also means you’ll be left with a lot of empty gas cylinders.

Continue reading “How to Recycle Your Gas Cylinders”

10 Reasons Why Access to Drinking Water is so Vital

We couldn’t survive without water. Around 60% of our body is made up of it and it’s essential to the processes that keep us functioning ¬– dehydration can be a contributing factor in life-threatening problems with your heart, lungs, kidneys and bladder.

However, we’re constantly losing water in a variety of ways – especially on board ship where the effects are increased further – so it’s crucial that we replace it to keep healthy. This isn’t always easy when you’re at sea and access to a supply of safe, potable drinking water can be complicated.

Here are 10 reasons why staying hydrated is so important:

1. Drink water for strength and endurance

Your muscles can’t contract and expand efficiently without water which will lead to a reduction in your physical abilities and a longer recovery time after exercise. The water you get rid of when you sweat also means that you’re losing valuable nutrients.

2. Drink water to think and concentrate

As well as other sensitive tissues, water cushions your brain and spinal cord. Without it, your brain cells shrink and the production of neurotransmitters is interrupted so your ability to focus on even the simplest of tasks will be affected.

3. Drink water to stay sharp

Failure to hydrate properly leads to fatigue and tiredness. Water is a much more effective drink than sugary energy drinks which might give you a sudden boost but will lead to an energy crash later.

4. Drink water to breathe

If you’re dehydrated, your body will restrict your airways to try and minimise water loss. This effects your ability to breathe and increases the impact of asthma, allergies, colds and viruses.

5. Drink water to stay cool

When your body heats up, the water that’s stored in the layers of your skin comes to the surface as sweat and cools you down. This water needs replacing to prevent heat exhaustion in a hot environment or during physical activity.

6. Drink water as part of a healthy diet

While water is no substitution for food, it can help with your eating habits – especially if you have it instead of sweetened fizzy drinks and juices. Drinking water before a meal will help your stomach to fill up and you’ll need less food to be able to function properly.

7. Drink water for your joints

The cartilage around your joints and spine allows bones to move freely against each other – its spongy texture is made up of over 80% water and prevents grating and rubbing. Without enough water, cartilage loses some of its shock-absorber effect so there’s more friction. This results in your joints aching and becoming painful.

8. Drink water for your circulation

Our blood is made up of over 90% water and if this concentration falls, it becomes thicker. This makes it harder for the heart to pump it around your body leading to an increase in blood pressure.

9. Drink water for your digestion

Your stomach and bowels need water to function properly and, if you aren’t getting enough, you run the risk of constipation, heartburn and stomach ulcers.

10. Drink water for your body waste

Saliva, tears and mucus all depend on having sufficient water and it flushes waste from your system when you go to the toilet. If you can’t maintain and regulate your body fluids, it will lead to problems with your kidneys in the long term.

Access to drinking water on board ship is not easy. With Drinksafe, you can make sure that your crews always have a good supply. As well as guaranteed compliance with water testing regulations, it’s one of the easiest to use and most cost-effective kits on the market.

That’s why the world’s largest shipping companies trust Drinksafe to take care of the well-being of their crew and passengers.

Contact us to find out more.

How does a gas detector work?

There have been gas detectors for as long as people have been aware of the harmful effects of gases in confined spaces. In the early days of mining, well before the development of electronic sensors, canaries were used.
They were taken underground in cages and if they stopped singing or died, then the miners would be alerted.

We’ve come a long way since the 19th and early 20th centuries. Now gas detection methods are much more precise – and much less harmful to animals.

How a modern gas detector works

Gas detectors use a sensor to measure the concentration of particular gases in the atmosphere. The sensor serves as a reference point and scale, producing a measurable electric current when a chemical reaction caused by a specific gas occurs. The sensor will monitor these currents and alarm the user when the presence of gas approaches an amount that is hazardous.

Early instruments were made to detect just one gas but now they can measure several at once – most commonly, oxygen (O2), flammable gases or vapours (LEL), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and carbon monoxide (CO). These are the gases that a 4-gas detector monitors, the minimum requirements set out by SOLAS Regulation XI/1-7.

The sensor

Most portable gas detectors use a pellistor/catalytic bead LEL sensor. To function accurately, it requires a minimum of 10% oxygen in the environment to avoid the build-up of tar and unburned fuel on the activated ring.

Theoretically, the sensor can last up to four years but it is very sensitive and can easily break if the monitor is knocked or dropped.

Most sensors will be reaching the end of their life by the time they are three years old and will need replacing. This can be a costly process that will leave the detector out of action, so you also need extra instruments to make sure you’re covered while the repair work is being carried out. Other components like backlight screens and audio alerts will begin to develop faults too so it’s important to keep detectors well-maintained.

Calibration

Pellistor sensors can be poisoned by many things, including the gases they’re detecting.

Contaminated sensors may not register dangerous gas levels and will become gradually slower and more unresponsive over time. Their performance depends on thorough testing using calibration and bump-testing to make sure they’re always measuring the correct amount of gas to keep seafarers and vessels safe.

Infrared sensors

These don’t require oxygen so will work in completely inert atmospheres. This makes them ideal for confined space detection and taking samples from tanks where a lack of oxygen is an issue. They’re also immune to sensor poisoning so there’s no need for calibration to ensure the gas detector is functioning correctly.

A traditional pellistor sensor uses a heated aluminium coil that drains a large amount of power. However, gas detectors that use infrared sensors are much more energy efficient with batteries that won’t require charging as frequently.

MGC Simple+

The cutting-edge infrared technology in the MGC Simple+ means its battery lasts for three years without charging – a world first for a portable gas detector.

It doesn’t require calibration (although it can be easily set-up to do this to meet the specifications of a risk assessments or safe systems of work) and is rated IP68 so is protected from even the finest dust and can be submerged in water for 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5m.

MGC Simple+ also comes with a full warranty for three years so you’ll never incur extra repair costs.

At the end of those three years, you simply replace the detector – a much cheaper option than spending money maintaining an old instrument. Buying a new detector means that you’ll also have a new three-year warranty, the instrument will always be covered.

The MGC Simple+ is the future of gas detection – the world’s first ‘NO calibration’ portable multi-gas detector.

NO calibration. NO charging. NO cost.

Contact us to find out more.