The decision by IMO to enforce a global 0.5% cap on fuel sulphur content from 2020 could lead to a surge in the installation of scrubbers, with up to 25% of global fleet fitted with the abatement technology by 2025, according to DuPont Clean Technologies.

And in the run up to 2020, between 500 to 2,000 additional ships will retrofit with scrubbers, according to Marco Dierico, marine business development manager for Europe at DuPont, a scrubber manufacturer.

“Shipowners and operators that want to minimise costly changes and continue to burn heavy fuel oil will require a scrubber to clean the fuel,” said Dierico.

To meet the 2020 global sulphur cap, shipowners and operators may consider switching to marine diesel oil/marine gas oil, LNG or methanol. However, as the price differential between heavy fuel oil and marine diesel oil/marine gas oil increases, many shippers will install exhaust gas cleaning systems to quickly and effectively meet regulations.

“It is expected that heavy fuel oil with a higher sulphur content will become significantly less expensive compared to low sulphur fuel oil over time,” he said, “which will make installation of a scrubber economically sound and future-proof.”

At the same time scrubber technology will continue to advance, with “additional improvements in emission monitoring, washwater treatment, and reduced system footprint” all on the horizon, according to Dierico.

DuPont has to-date installed more than 300 scrubber systems to landbased powerplants and ships. The systems are suitable for main and auxiliary engines as well as boilers.