Norwegian ship operator Solvang ASA sees onboard carbon capture and storage (CCS) as potentially “the big game changer” for achieving shipping decarbonization goals.
There is currently no working technology for CCS on board ships, and deep sea transport does not have access to the amount of e-fuel needed to replace conventional fuel oil, HFO/LSFO.
Solvang says it’s about to change that.
The company has spent 20 years optimizing engine operation, emissions cleaning and exhaust gas recirculation to compare conventional heavy fuel oil (HFO) with LPG, LNG, biofuels and others in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
However, after removing NOx, SOx and other pollutants from the exhaust, the CO2 problem remains, as there can be no combustion without carbon production.
“There are no easy solutions, so we are looking for the big change: avoiding CO2 emissions through capture and storage,” says Edvin Endresen, CEO of Solvang.
Last fall, Solvang launched a ship-scale CCS project in collaboration with Wärtsilä Exhaust Gas Treatment. The aim is to capture the CO2 from the combustion of the main engine before it passes through the exhaust outlets. A complex carbon separation process takes place inside the chimney, resulting in the transfer of liquid CO2 to deck tanks, ready for long-term storage or industrial reuse.
A complete CCS plant and scrubber configuration is already running on a full-scale 1.2 MW test environment at Wärtsilä’s facilities in Moss, Norway.
“The system is already operating at up to 60% carbon capture on certain engine loads, which has never been done before. Additionally, early indications are that the captured CO2 is very pure, with little or no product contamination,” says Endresen.
Soon a high-end solution will be installed on the Solvang ethylene carrier Mower Eos, where it will serve the ship’s 7 MW main engine. By the middle of this year, an electrostatic filter will be installed in the ship’s exhaust gas cleaning system, a first experience in the history of ship engines.
If all works well, carbon absorption and extraction units will be installed towards the end of 2023, along with a modification of the liquefaction systems to cater for the deck tanks. Over the next two years, a complete CCS configuration will operate alongside the existing exhaust scrubbing and cleaning systems on board the Eos, providing a constant stream of live data.
“The planned combination of CCS, scrubber and Solvang’s low pressure EGR system will manage CO2, NOx, SOx, particulates, CO and unburnt fuel from HFO combustion. If applied to deep sea shipping as a sector, it is a big step towards net zero emissions,” says Solvang Fleet Manager Tor-Øyvind Ask.
HFO: LIFE CYCLE WINNER?
Without carbon capture, says Solvang, there is only a potential 10-15% reduction in GHG emissions from fossil fuels such as MGO, VLSO, LPG, LNG and HFO – as opposed to climate targets where the goal is net zero. If very potent greenhouse gases such as methane escaping as methane slip are included, LNG may score particularly low, he notes.
When shipboard CCS becomes available, says Solvang, “HFO turns out to be the climate winner among fossil fuels,” when considering carbon from a lifecycle perspective that includes extraction. oil throughout the mileage of its transportation as cargo, often referred to as wide awake.
After CO2 extraction, Solvang claims, HFO performs better than all other fossil fuels, but it also challenges electrofuel (e-fuel) due to processing costs such as coal-fired power generation. affecting its CO2 budget throughout its life cycle. Even when e-fuel comes from zero-emission sources, there is little hope of covering deep-sea shipping with this energy source in the coming decades.
“Expecting all sectors to plunge emissions at once will not work. Air traffic will place the highest bid for e-fuel, leaving shipping to opt for other types of fuel,” says Ask, “CCS is something we can do in a few years. When the world has enough green energy, the captured CO2 can be turned into electrofuel. In short, we are providing a gateway to carbon-free deep-sea transportation, contributing so seriously to our common future.