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Japan-based Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), along with four other companies, have entered into a joint study to equip in-service vessels with sulfur dioxide (SOX) scrubber system to make them compliant with the upcoming international environmental regulations.

The scrubbers remove SOX from exhaust gas, helping vessels to meet global treaty standards for SOX emissions without using low-sulphur fuel.

Japan’s Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, Minaminippon Shipbuilding, Sanwa Dock and Wärtsilä Japan are also involved in the study that targets mainly car carriers.

"Compared to other types of vessels, the structure of the car carriers makes it more technically challenging to add scrubber systems."

Compared to other types of vessels, the structure of the car carriers makes it more technically challenging to add scrubber systems.

The study also concentrates on ships already in service, which are more difficult to equip with scrubbers than new-building vessels.

Under the project, the participants will develop comprehensive specifications for the scrubber system and use new technologies such as 3D scanning to support operational efficiency in installation process.

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Additionally, the joint approach with Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) and Wärtsilä will help for more diversified study, intended for results that will streamline the development of ship class rules and guidelines.

Through the approach, the companies plan to address the SOX emissions issue in advance of an amended international treaty that places stricter than before restrictions on exhaust emissions from vessels.

As per the international treat of SOX emissions, vessels are required to use bunker fuel with a sulphur content of 0.1% or less in emission control areas (ECAs) such as North America.

In general sea areas excluding ECAs, the treaty aims to reduce the maximum sulfur content of bunker in use from the current 3.5% standard to 0.5% in 2020 or 2025.

The guideline will be applied to vessels that are already in service.

Image: The scrubbers remove SOX from exhaust gas. Photo: courtesy of Mitsui OSK Lines.