Ships fitted with scrubbers in Great Lakes

Installation of exhaust gas cleaning technology for second vessel is due be completed on June 20th.

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Updated on 14 Jun 2016 11:13 GMT

Interlake Steamship Company has had its 100-foot vessel, the M/V James R. Barker, outfitted with new exhaust gas cleaning technology - also known as scrubbers - as part of its ongoing effort to cut down on emissions.

The M/V James R. Barker set sail on Sunday with the new scrubbers. The company's 826-foot ship, M/V Lee A. Tregurtha, is to have the same upgrades completed on June 20th.

The exhaust gas cleaning technology, made by DuPont, was installed on Interlake's M/V Hon. James L. Oberstar in April of 2015 by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, who also handled the second phase of installation on Barker and Tregurtha.

The new scrubbers are shorter and lighter than previous iterations, while retaining all of the same emissions-reducing benefits, according to DuPont's explanation of their product.

The exhaust moves from the ship's two engines to the scrubbers which strip impurities using sprays, eliminating any contained sulphur. The particulates that remain are then removed by a droplet separator. What's left is a cloud of clean white steam. It works "like a shower", Interlake Steamship Co. fleet engineer Drew Leonardi said, who estimated the cost of the scrubber installation to be around $4 million.

Another of Interlake's ships, the M/V Masabi Miner, is planned to be updated with the same scrubbers by 2017, for a total of five. These scrubbers are part of Interlake's plan to modernize their equipment. A re-power of their ship, the S.S. Herbert C. Jackson, will be the final step of Interlake's 10-year, $100-million-dollar modernization plan.


Effective 1 January 2015, all ships that operate in the North American and European Emission Control Areas (ECAs) have been required to switch to fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.1 percent or install scrubbers that meet the equivalency standard for suphur dioxide (SO2).

As an alternative, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has allowed shipowners to install scrubbing systems as an equivalent to fuel switching. The systems are designed to reduce the SO2 content in the engine flue gas to below that found in a 0.1 percent sulphur fuel and therefore comply with existing ECA regulations.

Image: M/V James R. Barker