Royal Caribbean Cruises will retrofit 19 of its ships with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems, which will remove more than 97 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions generated by the ships’ diesel engines.
The company says the move will position it ahead of all forthcoming International Maritime Organization Emission Control Area emissions standards, and will ensure compliance with existing European Union standards.
The IMO’s MARPOL Annex VI places a cap on sulfur within ECAs at 1 percent, which took effect in North America in 2012. In 2015, the limit will be 0.1 percent.
Additionally, the decision to install scrubber systems instead of switching to a fuel with a lower sulfur content will ensure that Royal Caribbean ships can be compliant everywhere they sail, as availability of lower-sulfur fuels is limited.
Beginning in January 2015, installation will take place on 13 Royal Caribbean International ships and six Celebrity Cruises ships, during scheduled dry-dockings and while ships are in service. While preliminary work has begun on several of the ships receiving AEP systems, most will take place between 2015 and 2017. Each installation will take approximately eight months.
Royal Caribbean Cruises has been involved in development, testing and planning for the use of AEP technology since 2010. Two newly built RCL ships that entered into service this year, Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas and TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 3, were among the first cruise ships to be built with AEP systems installed during initial construction.
Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas has been operating one of its six engines with a retrofitted AEP system for two years. AEP systems “scrub” exhaust gases by injecting high volumes of water spray into the exhaust stream.
Earlier this year, Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, announced plans to increase installations of its industry-first exhaust gas cleaning technology to more than 70 vessels. The expansion, covering more than 70 percent of its entire fleet, represents an increase from the 32 ships announced in September 2013.