Fire, Water & Corrosion: Scrubbers May Be Dangerous IMO 2020 Answer

Fireplace, Water & Corrosion: Scrubbers Could Be Harmful IMO 2020 Reply

scrubber malfunction from @Sam_Eckett tweeted video

Ocean carriers’ largest reply to assembly the Worldwide Maritime Group’s (IMO) upcoming 0.5% sulfur cap on gasoline (IMO 2020) won’t be the reply in spite of everything. Or higher said, it could be a harmful reply.

The IMO 2020 answer we’re speaking about listed below are methods performing as onboard remedy vegetation to take away dangerous gasses from ship engines and exhausts referred to as “scrubbers.”

Maritime insurance coverage supplier Gard launched an article the place its writer, Loss Prevention Government Siddharth Mahajan, highlighted claims of harmful fires, corrosion, and thermal shock Gard has seen with scrubbers.

Scrubber Associated Fires

The fires have been occurring with the set up and retrofitting of scrubbers to ships.

Gard has seen a couple of fireplace incidents the place sparks from welding, metallic reducing, and different sizzling work actions fell into the inside chamber of the scrubber by way of uncovered openings, and in a single case the fireplace additionally unfold to the engine room by way of glass bolstered epoxy (GRE) piping. Warmth generated from the metal reducing for the supporting brackets, additionally contributed to the construct up of warmth contained in the scrubber.

Clearly, such fires are harmful to the individuals working on the ship yards and are expensive. Nonetheless, such fires aren’t any peculiar to scrubbers, in line with Mahajan. Fireplace is a hazard anyplace on a ship the place welding, reducing, or grinding work is going on.

Hopefully, extra cautious procedures like masking and double checking openings on scrubbers will likely be tailored to assist keep away from such fires sooner or later.

Scrubber Associated Corrosion

Corrosion seems to be an even bigger drawback with scrubbers that, in line with the Gard article, will likely be put in on almost 3,000 ships by 2020.

Inside a yr, corrosion might current severe hazard to the crew and cargo on containerships with scrubbers.

Try what Mahajan wrote about corrosion circumstances involving scrubbers:

Scrubber waste is corrosive, and we’ve got seen a couple of incidents the place inside 10-15 months of the open loop scrubber being put in, corrosion of overboard distance piece or in its quick neighborhood has resulted in water ingress into areas such because the engine room, ballast tanks and cargo holds. Absence of or poor software of protecting coatings on the within of the pipe and on the welds, together with poor software of paint on hull plating close to the washwater discharge have been recognized because the causes of accelerated corrosion. In all these circumstances, non permanent repairs to plug the leak have been carried out by divers adopted by everlasting repairs at a yard.

Workmanship performs an enormous position in these corrosion circumstances, however clearly so does the very nature of scrubbers themselves in creating corrosive waste.

With a rush to get scrubbers on ships forward of IMO 2020 that goes into impact in only a couple months, it’s scary to assume we might see a bunch of water leaks in ships a few yr from now.

Try this scary video that was tweeted a few month and a half in the past of water pouring down onto the principle engine of a ship. The extraordinarily harmful scenario is attributed to a corrosion associated scrubber malfunction.

Scrubbers & Thermal Shock

This final scrubber associated injury to a ship brings up a couple of points.

Right here’s the case as Mahajan describes it:

A vessel was often buying and selling in Northern Europe and had put in an open loop scrubber. It needed to changeover to low sulphur gasoline when visiting a port that had laws in place banning discharge of washwater from open loop scrubbers. It was nonetheless required to run the scrubber in dry mode, i.e. with washwater provide pumps turned off, to permit for the passage of sizzling exhaust gasses with a temperature of almost 400° C. After departure from port, washwater pumps can be began and chilly sea water sprayed by way of the nozzles contained in the scrubber. Throughout inspection of the scrubber by crew, injury was observed to the nozzles, demister housing and the drains.

A survey was carried out and indicated quite a lot of concurrent causes, comparable to thermal shock, poor workmanship by the yard, for instance, solely spot welding carried out on demister supporting plates; and poor design. The scrubber had been in service for almost two years.

Let me begin on the finish. The scrubber was in use for 2 years earlier than it was found it had each design flaws and shoddy workmanship carried out on it.

The ocean freight trade is being flooded by scrubbers — no pun meant. With so many being rushed out onto ships to fulfill the necessity of complying with IMO 2020, the chances for design flaws and staff at ship yards reducing corners with ways like spot welding are immense.

Many probably harmful issues may very well be increase in and round scrubbers that ships’ homeowners, captains, and crews do not know about. In the end, these points may very well be placing not solely ships and cargo but additionally seamen’s lives in danger.


Critics of scrubbers have mentioned the methods change polluting the air with polluting the water. These defending scrubbers have mentioned the quantity of air pollution the methods would put within the water is negligible.

Whereas the water air pollution created by scrubbers could also be a lot lower than air air pollution, if scrubbers trigger ship malfunctions or floodings from corrosion or different issues brought on by design flaws or shoddy workmanship, that would result in greater air pollution occasions like oil spills from sunken ships.

That Gard is recognizing these issues now and giving methods to cut back the danger of extra circumstances like those Mahajan highlights within the Gard article is nice. However on the identical time, the article is eye-opening. There appears to be an excessive amount of threat with all of the scrubbers hitting the seas.

Nonetheless, the trade has put too many eggs within the scrubbers basket for hundreds of them hitting the waters to be something however inevitable now.

All ships utilizing dearer, cleaner fuels that make scrubbers pointless shouldn’t be possible as IMO 2020 hits on January 1st. Different choices like electrical and sail powered ships definitely aren’t able to take over the world’s cargo vessel fleet. Going again to wind energy is an thought with little traction. However electrical ships are stirring a lot pleasure. With that pleasure, their potential, and electrical ships being examined on the waters, their day will most likely come; nonetheless, that’s not prone to occur for no less than a pair extra many years — no less than not in a dominant manner.

Within the meantime, we appear caught with scrubbers and all their potential risks. Hopefully, scrubbers will solely a short-term repair for the issue of compliance with IMO 2020. If higher options aren’t moved towards rapidly, there may very well be some severe issues in a yr or two.

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