MARCH 2, 2016 — Alfa Laval is to expand its already massive Test & Training Center in Aalborg, Denmark, to five times its current size.
The move is in response to the challenges and possibilities posed facing marine customers looking to LNG and other alternative fuels as they strive to meet environmental and energy targets.
Alfa Laval says the expansion will create the world's most advanced test center for environmental and combustion technology – regardless of fuel type.
Opened nearly two years ago, the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center is a cornerstone of customer-focused technology development. It already provides a 250 sq.m testing space where a 2 MW diesel engine and equipment from all of Alfa Laval's marine product groups create the closest possible simulation of a full-sized commercial vessel.
Now it will be expanded by an additional 1,100 sq.m, dedicated to environmental and combustion technology in burners and heating systems for vessels using LNG and other alternative marine fuels.
The wider operations are expected to begin at the turn of the year 2016-2017.
"LNG and other fuel alternatives will play a key role in meeting the marine industry's environmental and energy challenges," says Peter Leifland, head of Alfa Laval's Marine & Diesel Division. "Through the expansion of the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center, we will support this shift with cutting-edge technology development.
"In just 15 years, it is expected that 7,000 vessels will be sailing with LNG, compared with some 500 today.
"This is a remarkable change, driven in part by the successive tightening of NOx and SOx regulations by IMO," says Bodil Nielsen, Test & Training Center Manager. "LNG is an attractive solution, because it reduces NOx by 85-90% and virtually eliminates SOx."
By moving from petroleum-based fuels to LNG, vessels can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% overall. However, Ms. Nielsen notes, "advanced technology is a prerequisite for making the switch."
Alfa Laval says the challenges involved with gas are nearly as great as the benefits. LNG poses additional environmental difficulties due to the methane and other greenhouse gases that evaporate from it, no matter how it is stored or transported. Additionally, all gas fuels are a serious explosion hazard, requiring sophisticated equipment for safe handling and treatment. At the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center, existing solutions to these challenges will be refined – and new ones developed.
"There are key processes that become significantly more complex when LNG is involved, which means the technologies on board must be even more advanced," says Lars Skytte Jørgensen, VP Product Center Boilers at Alfa Laval. "The Alfa Laval Test & Training Center ensures that our diesel-related equipment is the most proven on the market, and with the new expansion, it will do the same for our gas-related solutions."
The expanded facility will be the only one of its kind where environmental technologies for all types of fuels can be tested.
It will promote development from a range of perspectives. As in the existing diesel testing space, interactions and synergies between process lines will be explored in the gas testing area, including the combustion of evaporated greenhouse gases from LNG.
"While the gases have to be burned to minimize environmental impact, we will develop the best technology for doing it safely – and for using the energy to provide heat and propulsion," says Mr. Jørgensen. "By looking not only at the environment, but also at energy efficiency and economy, the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center will ensure that Alfa Laval is the clear choice for customers who make the transition to gas-powered ships."
The expansion of the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center, which is supported by the Danish Maritime Fund, will also provide new opportunities to collaborate with customers and cooperation partners.
Alfa Laval says this deepened collaboration will strengthen its position as the marine expert in environmental and fuel technology.
"Alfa Laval is the only company in the world to offer the complete package of environmental and combustion-optimizing systems for the shipping industry," says Mr. Jørgensen. "Because we contribute to so many vital aspects on board, we are fortunate to have many who wish to be involved with our research and development."