2017 Apr 01

Wastewater: the drive to convert carbon-based waste to energy

The movement to convert waste water is ‘the future’ Scanship chief executive says, as cruise ship innovation in this area is driven by regulation.

Regulation is driving wastewater treatment innovation within the cruise industry – and now this innovation has been boosted even further with work being carried out to convert all onboard carbon-based waste into energy.

Henrik Badin, chief executive of Scanship Holding, has emphasised the importance of regulation when it comes to wastewater technology on cruise ships. He has also pointed out the high standards maintained by cruise ships when it comes to waste water. He was speaking at the environmental stewardship panel session at the recent Seatrade Cruise Global event in Fort Lauderdale, USA.

He said: “Two regulations have been driving innovation in our industry – the Alaska standards and the standard for the Baltic Sea.” The Baltic Sea is the only Marpol special area for waste water, and the regulation requires operators in the area to install technology to remove nutrients from waste water by 2019.

He praised the cruise industry for its forward-thinking approach. “One hundred per cent of all new cruise ships being built are treating all grey and black water.” Fifty nine per cent are equipped with technology to remove nutrients. Mr Badin pointed out: “This is evidence of a cruise industry doing much more than regulators are putting on the agenda. From 2010 the cruise industry started deploying technology for nutrient removal to prepare for the future, even before dates were set for the Baltic Sea.”

He singled out the importance of wastewater and other waste removal and recovery systems. “Cruise ships are carrying 5,000 people, which is comparable to a shoreside municipality of a third of that. We need to process this, not only to meet regulation but also to handle onboard logistics.”

Scanship has supplied a lot of conventional technology – Mr Badin said that every second cruise ship since 2014 has an advanced wastewater system from the company – and is now working on new technology to convert all carbon based waste into energy.

The new ‘game-changing’ technology that Scanship is working on sees all of the carbon-based waste – food, sewage, paper, cardboard, plastics, wood, oils, and mixes – converted by fast pyrolysis (the thermal degradation of waste in the absence of air) into synthesis gas, or syngas (hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) and charcoal.

Mr Badin commented: “It is a very interesting technology and it is the future. A cruise ship carrying 5,000 people would have waste on board of 80MW hour a day, so a substantial amount of waste could be recovered as synthesis gas and charcoal. This can be used on board to produce energy.

“We really believe this is the future – not only to treat waste water to comply with regulation but also to capture carbon for energy production.”

But while many see the cruise industry as one of the front runners in the treatment of waste water, not everyone agrees. Last year manufacturer ACO Marine welcomed the findings reported in the Friends of the Earth 2016 Cruise Ship Report Card ‒ the annual survey of cruise shipping’s impact on the environment ‒ which it says highlights a growing need for the sector to update its sewage treatment technology.

The annual survey, published in June, documented the environmental footprint of 17 cruise lines and 171 cruise ships, finding that a significant proportion of vessels continue to operate outdated sewage treatment plant.

The survey found that 40 per cent of cruise ships continue to use 35 year old technology – and called for an urgent upgrade to systems capable of preventing environmental damage from the discharge of poorly treated black, grey and galley wastewater streams.

“The Friends of the Earth report paints a contrasting picture to the environmentally conscientious one offered by the cruise lines themselves,” ACO Marine managing director Mark Beavis said at the time. “That 40 per cent of cruise ships are still using wastewater treatment technology developed in the 1980s suggests that some of them are unable to meet current regulatory requirements. Certainly, some of these vessels will be incapable of meeting the more stringent requirements set out in IMO resolution MEPC.227 (64), which limits the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen discharged in treated effluent.”

Mr Beavis added: “With a growing trend for expedition-type cruising in ecologically sensitive areas, it is paramount to environmental conservation that the cruise sector adopts wastewater technology capable of helping to prevent the nitrification of our seas.”

Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels programme director for Friends of the Earth, stated in a press release at the time: “With the Northwest Passage now open in the summer as a result of climate change, the cruise industry’s expanding itineraries will bring increasingly damaging pollution to even more sensitive areas like the Arctic. It is way past time to set a higher bar for this industry.”

Of the 17 cruise lines that Friends of the Earth assessed for the 2016 report, seven were ‘A’ graded according to four environmental criteria: sewage treatment, air pollution reduction, water quality compliance, and transparency. Seven were given grades ranging from C to F.

New contracts

US-headquartered Headhunter’s TidalWave HMX marine sewage treatment plant has been tested by an independent laboratory and certified by the United States Coast Guard in accordance with the latest IMO effluent performance standards. These systems now comply with MEPC.227(64) including section 4.2 which is relevant to passenger vessels operating in special areas.

“As a result we were recently invited by the operations manager of Silversea Cruises to accompany him to the Galapagos to meet the crew and survey Silver Galapagos for the installation of our TidalWave HMX in an upcoming yard period. We are in final discussions and expect the order to be completed this week,” Headhunter president Mark Mellinger said at time of writing (March).

He commented: “The main factors affecting this customer choice in the market are customer service, the physical size of the equipment, proven performance, and price. In the Galapagos, Headhunter is very well known as most of the vessels there, including the Ecuadorian Navy, are equipped with Headhunter sanitation systems and we have a support partner there. Our TidalWave HMX is smaller than most competitors’ systems and can be integrated in a way that uses the ship’s holding tank for part of the process. This saves space. The TidalWave HMX has been a proven performer since its introduction about 20 years ago and continues to deliver reliable performance today.”

Elsewhere, earlier this year it was announced that Evac will supply the Evac Complete Cleantech Solution for two Global class cruise ships for Genting Hong Kong’s Star Cruises.

The two 201,000gt vessels will be built by German shipyard MV Werften for deliveries in 2020 and 2021. The contract gives Genting an option on two additional Global class vessels. It is the largest cruise ship order that Evac has received to date.

The Evac Complete Cleantech Solution includes vacuum collection, vacuum toilets, wastewater treatment, dry and wet waste treatment, and freshwater generation by reverse osmosis systems for technical water quality with a daily capacity of over 3,000m3.

“The Evac Complete Cleantech Solution noticeably simplifies implementation and co-ordination in the building process of the yard. And while under construction, Evac’s two offices in North Germany mean that problems can be solved quickly,” said Ljubo Jurisevic, managing director of Evac Germany and president of Evac’s cruise division. “The added value of Evac’s complete solution is that its integrated solutions reduce interfaces and thus risks for the shipyard and shipowner,” he continued.

The Evac Complete Cleantech Solution including vacuum collection, wastewater treatment, dry and wet waste, fresh water and automation systems can also be found aboard Megastar, Tallink Grupp’s new generation liquefied natural gas (LNG) shuttle ferry.

Source:; Rebecca Moore

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