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A Maritime Technology Giant Is Turning Ships Into “Vacuum Cleaners” for the Sea

The latest regulations have determined ship owners and operators to implement various innovative solutions in order to meet the sustainability targets and contribute to lower levels of harmful emissions. Scrubbers have already started to be used on a wide scale as an effective way of dealing with sulphur dioxide, but maritime technology specialist Wartsila has discovered that they can achieve even more, by also collecting microplastics at the same time.
Wartsila will integrate the new plastic filtration system on its future scrubbers 6 photos
Gas Exhaust and Water Treatment SystemsGas Exhaust and Water Treatment SystemsGas Exhaust and Water Treatment SystemsGas Exhaust and Water Treatment SystemsGas Exhaust and Water Treatment Systems
Wartsila is turning ships into “vacuum cleaners” for the sea. The new system is has developed together with the shipping company Grimaldi Group can collect plastic particles from the water while also acting as an exhaust gas scrubber. As a result, not only is there less sulphur dioxide released in the atmosphere, but plastic is also “vacuumed” from the sea.

Scrubbers, officially known as Exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), spray seawater mixed with a certain caustic chemical substance into the exhaust gas stream, where it reacts with the sulphur dioxide. The resulting wash-water with sulphuric acid is then discharged back into the sea (in the case of an open-loop system), or collected and disposed of at dedicated on-shore facilities (in the case of closed-loop systems).

Experts in this technology observed that, as they draw seawater, scrubbers could collect microplastics at the same time. This is how this innovative technology was born – a scrubber that also incorporates a microplastics filtration system that can capture even very small particles, with a high concentration of about 76 particles/cubic meter.

The Grimaldi Group has already completed a pilot test for this new system onboard one of its vessels, operating between Civitavecchia in Italy and Barcelona, in Spain. The results showed that on a single trip between the two ports, almost 65,000 microplastic particles were collected. Considering that more than 11 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year, according to the Plastic Europe association, this solution could bring significant benefits for cleaner waters.

Wartsila intends to make this filtration system an integrated feature of its wash-water treatment system. This also opens the way for advancing the capabilities of future scrubbers even further.

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