Environmental values spawn new technologies

Wärtsilä article 22 March 2012
Producer: Mirja-Maija Santala, Media Manager, Wärtsilä Corporation
The article was originally published in the Responsible company supplement of Finnish financial online magazine Taloussanomat in March 2012

The shipping industry is going through a period of transformation as sulphur emissions must be reduced considerably in the coming years. Wärtsilä's comprehensive solutions are based on the concept of sustainable shipping.

Innovation, research and development work form the basis for Wärtsilä's competitiveness as one of the leading power solution providers in the shipping and energy markets. The company has set the goal to be the technology leader in its industry.

As an industry pioneer, Wärtsilä wants to be a leader in sustainable development work that includes financial, social, and environmental responsibility. The company lives up to its environmental responsibility by developing products and solutions that can meet growing global energy needs, and which customers can use to develop their own operations in the most sustainable way possible.

Wärtsilä is highly influential within the shipping industry, a field in which environmentally sound products and services have become more and more important. Wärtsilä has long traditions in continuously developing products and solutions with less impact on the environment.

"Wärtsilä began developing more energy-efficient engines in the 1970s, and in the 1980s we were testing different water technologies to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions," says General Manager Britt-Mari Kullas-Nyman, who works at Wärtsilä Environmental Services.

Reining in emissions

When a fuel with sulphur content is burned, sulphur oxide emissions are created. Nitrogen oxides, on the other hand, are emitted whenever any fuel is burned at a sufficiently high temperature, because air contains nitrogen, which oxidizes at high temperatures. Nitrogen and sulphur oxides react in the atmosphere creating nitric acid and sulphuric acid which, when it rains down to the ground, acidifies the earth. In the lower atmosphere, nitrogen oxides also react to form ozone, which is a greenhouse gas.

Recently tightened environmental regulations have had a direct effect on Wärtsilä's operations: customers around the world need solutions that allow them to meet the tighter emissions limits. As new technologies, products, and services are developed, emissions can also be reduced by improving engine efficiency, for instance. Wärtsilä is the most experienced company on the market using multi-fuel engine technology, which allows for the use of different, cleaner fuels such as natural gas. Another way to meet the emissions regulations is to install sulphur scrubbers that reduce exhaust emissions and catalytic converters that reduce nitrogen oxides in power plants and ships post-construction. The SOx scrubbers offered by Wärtsilä are a cost-efficient way to reduce exhaust emissions.

"One reference case for our catalytic converters is the multi-function ice breaker owned by Arctia Shipping. In addition to supplying a catalytic converter to the vessel, we also modified the main engine to burn a purer form of diesel oil as fuel," Kullas-Nyman says.

Sustainable business, comprehensive consulting

At Wärtsilä, sustainability performance is systematically guiding the development work in all areas. As a power plant supplier, the company strongly believes in the Smart Power Generation concept. According to this concept Wärtsilä develops smart power solutions for energy-efficient and flexible power generation by utilizing various liquid and gas fuels to supplement power generated from renewable sources. The Smart Power Generation concept can be used to optimize entire power systems and it allows for the large-scale utilization of wind power.

Wärtsilä believes in providing the customer with full support; versatile maintenance services, tailored solutions, a comprehensive range of training services and an extensive service network that keeps response times short. The target is to achieve the longest possible lifecycle and good productivity for the customer’s equipment for minimized costs throughout the entire lifecycle. The lifecycle of an engine can be up to 30 years, which means correctly timed and carefully selected maintenance tasks have a significant impact on costs and the environment.

"We aspire to deliver comprehensive solutions based on a lifecycle philosophy both in products and services. Our Services branch is responsible for the maintenance of delivered solutions, but that is not where our support to the customer ends. As technology moves forward, we continue to optimize the efficiency of the solutions in operation. We are also able to consult our clients to find the best possible option tailored specifically for them in the long term. The service we provide is truly comprehensive and is designed to cover the full service life of the product," Britt-Mari Kullas-Nyman emphasizes. 

Britt-Mari Kullas-Nyman The expert in the article, Britt-Mari Kullas-Nyman, General Manager, Environment, Air&Energy, Wärtsilä Services.