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Technical Study on Scrubber Waste Management

The aim of this technical study on scrubber waste management, commissioned by the Port of
Helsinki, was to gather relevant information on the current status of the application of SOx
(sulphur oxides) scrubber technologies in ships and explore possible management options for
sludge and wash water produced by ships equipped with scrubbers.

Based on purification medium and mode of operation there are various types of scrubber
systems. Wet scrubbers can be either open loop or closed loop scrubbers, or hybrids which
can be operated in open or closed loop mode, and dry scrubbers. The waste fractions
generated by wet scrubbers include sludge (closed loop and some open loop scrubbers) and
effluent (treated wash water from closed loop scrubbers). The characteristics of scrubber
wastes depend on the components of exhaust gas which in turn are influenced by the quality
of the fuel used and completeness of combustion. The gaseous sulphur oxides are trapped in
the scrubber water where they react to sulphuric and sulphurous acid (the latter being
oxidised further to sulphuric acid). The particulate matter captured by the scrubber can
contain metal oxides and sulphates, soot, and other organic compounds. The effluent can in
some cases be delivered to the port but it can be expected that mostly the treated effluents
are discharged to sea. The sludge cannot be discharged into sea and the ports have to
provide reception facilities according to MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 17.

The overall trend is that scrubbers will become more common, especially in the cruise liners
being a large customer segment using the facilities provided by the Port of Helsinki. There
are multiple possible management options for both effluent and scrubber sludge. The choice
of the most feasible option is dependent on the expected quantities and qualities of effluent
and sludge, and therefore there is a need to gather more precise information on this matter.
This report proposes a number of measures to support the port in taking needed actions. Read more