Boilers, too, face IMO 2020 issues

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Aalborg OL multi-fuel boiler at Alfa Laval test center

A century ago, when the first marine boiler left the Aalborg Shipyard in Aalborg, Denmark, there were no regulations governing fuel content or vessel emissions.

Things have changed since then and, as the 2020 IMO sulfur cap approaches, what is now Alfa Laval’s Aalborg boiler solutions business is using a century of experience in boiler work to deliver multi-fuel boiler solutions and helping customers prepare existing systems for tomorrow’s fuel scenarios.


On most vessels, the arrival of 2020 will mean working with multiple fuels. For a growing number of customers, this includes not only a wider spectrum of oils and oil blends, but also gases. By delivering solutions such as the multi-fuel Alfa Laval Aalborg OL, which can produce steam using both liquid and gas fuel types, Alfa Laval can accommodate the full range of their needs.

“No matter what their fuel strategy, we offer customers a complete boiler solution,” says Markus Tauriainen, Manager Exhaust and Combustion Systems. “The fuel oil supply system, gas valve unit, feed water system and more are all within our scope of delivery for the Alfa Laval Aalborg OL.”


The Aalborg OL and other multi-fuel solutions are backed not only by long experience, but also by close cooperation with customers, research institutions and regulatory bodies. In addition, they build on the investments the company has made in innovation – notably the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center in Aalborg. In 2017, the already sizable facility underwent an 1,100 sq.m expansion, specifically for work with gas and combustion technology.

“We’ve developed gas solutions for all Aalborg boiler types at the Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre, where we also test our boilers with compliant fuels,” says Tauriainen. “Our work there is directly influenced by our customers, with whom we discuss needs, concerns, wishes and experience.”


Developing new technology, however, is not the only way Alfa Laval is preparing customers for the 2020 sulfur cap. It is also helping them to modify their existing boiler solutions and to keep them operating effectively. That work extends from retrofitting Alfa Laval Touch Control, a next-generation graphical control system that provides full plant overview and intuitive boiler management, to supplying expert recommendations for adapting the boiler fuel line or mitigating the impact of scrubbers on boiler performance.

“Many customers are unaware that changing fuels will impact the boiler as well as the engine, or that installing a scrubber can influence boiler performance,” says Hansen. “Alfa Laval has prepared system-specific solutions that ensure a safe and fuel-optimized boiler fuel supply, as well as strategies for keeping back pressure at the right level for optimal boiler performance, even after the boiler is connected to a scrubber.”

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