Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that it will retrofit 19 of its ships with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems to position the company ahead of all forthcoming International Maritime Organization (IMO) Emission Control Area emissions standards.
AEP systems, also known as scrubbers, will remove more than 97 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions generated by the ships' diesel engines.
The move will also ensure compliance with existing European Union standards. Additionally, the decision to install AEP systems instead of switching to a fuel with a lower sulfur content will ensure that RCL's ships can be compliant everywhere they sail, as availability of lower-sulfur fuels is limited.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. 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, removing more than 97% of sulfur dioxide emissions.
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.
AEP systems that scrub sulfur particles from exhaust streams are one of several different emissions reduction tools that RCL employs. Another focus is using less fuel, to further the company's goal of reducing its carbon footprint – a typical measurement of greenhouse gas emissions. To use less fuel, RCL has implemented hundreds of energy-saving initiatives throughout its fleet. Several new approaches were taken in building Quantum of the Seas, including a full-hull air lubrication system that reduces friction between the ship and the water, which can result in up to seven percent energy savings depending on ship speed and itinerary; a keycard-operated master switch for lights and air-conditioning in guest staterooms that reduces unnecessary energy usage; and the use of only LED or fluorescent lights.