Norwegian Cruise Line has moved to retroactively installed Exhaust Gas Scrubbers to its 2,376-passenger vessel Norwegian Jewel, which will mark the brand’s return to Australian waters from November 2017 to February 2018 – the first time an NCL ship has spent a season here in 16 years.
The technology will make the ship one of the most environmentally clean and green ships sailing in Australia, as seawater is used to offset sulfur exhaust gas emissions made by the vessel in its normal operations by up to 99%. An Eco-Smart Cruising policy employed across the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet sees the line working to reduce its environmental impact by disposing of garbage and waste in accordance with international maritime regulations and through recycling and re-using materials where possible.
Five scrubbers were installed on the ship – one per engine – each of which also includes a water membranes filtration unit to clean the recirculated water and return it to the ocean, with the filtered materials collected in drums and properly offloaded and discarded when the ship carries out its regular turn-around formalities at the end of each cruise.
So what is a cruise ship scrubber? Believe it or not, a natural neutraliser of sulfur exhaust gas emissions which come from cruise ships is seawater. The technology is fitted to individual engines and allows cruise lines to continue to use high-sulfur, low-cost fuels while still playing a significant role in reducing exhaust emissions, which in turn allows it to meet increasingly tight environmental regulations being imposed by the ports in which cruise ships visit.
Each one uses seawater to kill off the vast majority of harmful sulphur dioxides before they are pumped into the atmosphere. The salt water reacts with the sulphur particles to form sulfuric acid, which itself is then neutralised in the same process.
Residues are collected and safely discarded in port, while the system also cleans and filters the seawater prior to discharging it back into the ocean. The cruise industry is working to meet a global cap on 0.5% sulphur content due to come into effect in 2020. Scrubbers are not a cheap solution, costing an average of around US$6 million per ship.
The fitting of the technology on Norwegian Jewel sees the ship join Pride of America and Norwegian Escape operating with scrubbing technology onboard. Ships built in the last few years have had scrubbers installed during construction, while two more active ships are due to have scrubbers fitted in the coming weeks. A further two will be fitted by the middle of next year as part of a plan to see the whole fleet cruising greener in the coming years.