Dual-fuel technology puts Viking Line in control of emissions

Sustainability assured 2011In a climate of tight regulation and media focus on the threat emissions pose to the environment, maritime operators are under increasing pressure to look carefully at the way they do business and introduce solutions that will be effective both now and for the foreseeable future.

In March 2011, Wärtsilä helped Viking Line address this challenge when it was contracted to supply the propulsion machinery of a new passenger ferry for the Finnish ship owner. The ship in question, to be built by STX Finland Oy, will be the largest passenger ferry yet to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG), making it the industry’s most environmentally sound and energy-efficient large passenger vessel to date.

The vessel will sail between Turku and Stockholm on the Baltic Sea and is scheduled to enter service in 2013. It will be capable of transporting cars, trucks and road trailers, and it has been designed to carry 2,800 passengers and a crew of 200.

The selection of LNG as an energy source enables a reduction in particulate emissions of more than 90% compared to those of conventional diesel engines, while carbon dioxide emissions are 20-30% lower. Additionally, the use of Wärtsilä’s dual-fuel engine technology, running on gas in this instance, will enable the ferry to sail without restrictions in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) and Nitrogen Emission Control Areas (NECAs).

Environmental regulation limits the levels of SOx that vessels are permitted to release in SECAs, to which the Baltic Sea belongs. These SOx limits will become more stringent in 2015. Jukka Paananen, Business Manager, Special Vessels, at Wärtsilä, highlights, “The vessel’s four Wärtsilä 8L50DF dual-fuel gas engines will surpass these requirements and stand Viking Line in good stead for the vessel’s lifecycle.”

Paananen also outlines the unique benefits LNG offers in the passenger ferry industry, “The reductions in emissions through the use of LNG enables ship owners like Viking Line to navigate increasingly tight environmental regulation, helping them to stay one step ahead of society’s expectations, while preserving their operating environments in a sustainable fashion.”

Wärtsilä has consistently been at the forefront in development of dual-fuel technology, and during recent years has launched a series of gas engines. These 4-stroke engines, namely the Wärtsilä 50DF, Wärtsilä 34DF and Wärtsilä 20DF, represent the best technology available in terms of efficiency and low emissions. The Wärtsilä 50DF engine is becoming one of Wärtsilä’s most successful products and has been used in marine applications since the introduction of dual-fuel propulsion in 2003.

Viking Line’s management has high expectations regarding the new ferry. Tony Öhman, Senior Vice President, Marine Operations & NB, points out, “As one of the cruise ferry companies operating in this environmentally sensitive archipelago, we believe that LNG will be the most cost-effective fuel in the future and that its usage also confers a boost to our environmental profile.” He goes on to state, “More capacity, lower operating costs, lower emissions and a new treat for our passengers will provide increased profitability for this route between Turku and Stockholm.”

This timely project will be a demonstration of the fact that LNG as an energy source offers the most economical and environmentally sound solution on the market. Customers of Viking Line’s popular cruise services are particularly interested in the ecological effects of vessel traffic in the Baltic Sea, and the company’s environmental profile is, of course, also of signal importance to its consumer-oriented business.

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