Enabling a future for shipowners; a case for stringent scrubber wash water monitoring

W’ve entered the age of stringent scrubber wash water monitoring. So how do we help vessel owners ensure that they are making a choice that is future proof? – by Emma Johnson 

It is becoming increasingly difficult for shipowners to feel confident that the investments they are making across their fleets are sufficiently futureproof. This is especially true while economic disruption, potential impending environmental legislation and an expansion of technological options are currently muddying the waters. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) recently implemented the 0.5% sulphur cap, hailing an influx of alternative options for compliance introduced to the market, such as alternative LSFO and scrubber systems. The key factor in determining the ‘right’ compliance option is its value over the medium term, as it must withstand future environmental legislation and safeguard a sizable investment.

From shipyards to class societies and naval architects, there are a number of stakeholders feeding into the design and retrofitting phase of a vessel, which has the potential to add further confusion as to the ‘right’ compliance option. With all variables considered, how do you ensure and prove that you are recommending a compliance option to a shipowner which is fundamentally future proof?

Let us turn to the case of scrubbers in the age of stringent scrubber wash water monitoring. A popular compliance option for shipowners, scrubbers or exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), remove particulate matter and harmful components from the exhaust gasses before discharging from a vessel. However, many shipowners are understandably concerned by the current debate and uncertainty around the environmental impact of scrubber wash water, and the potential for new regulation.

As of yet, the IMO is still to align all signatory states along one unified policy approach, however it is acknowledged that a lack of clear guidance on the measurement and methodology for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in scrubber wash water is a pivotal issue. As a key measurement parameter, it is essential that shipowners are able to accurately detect PAH contaminants in wash water to prevent the discharge of harmful particles including unburned fuel oil into the sea, in turn, futureproofing their systems.

Understandably, without any current agreed standards on PAH levels, shipowners are left uncertain as to whether to invest in scrubbers that they feel could risk becoming non-compliant with upcoming regulation. To curb this uncertainty and assist shipowners in choosing the most suitable solution for their vessels, scrubber systems should be selected on their ability to deliver an accurate and consistent monitoring of scrubber wash water through an integrated system. A scrubber wash water monitoring system that conducts a rigorous and accurate analysis of wash water, measuring PAH levels, not only prevents harmful discharge into our oceans but safeguards shipowners.

Therefore, owners looking for monitoring systems should ensure that the system they install is able to perform the most stringent regulatory analysis, as required by the IMO, including PAH, pH, turbidity (to ISO 7027: 1999) and temperature, to ensure robust and accurate measurements are made in accordance with regulatory requirements. Installed on vessels across the global fleet, Chelsea Technologies’ Sea Sentry provides users with a full-range PAH measurement using a proven and highly accurate sensing technique and has gained type approval by DNV-GL and Class NK. The science behind these parameters is robust and they represent the full spectrum of measurements accepted as being adequate for ascertaining the efficacy off all types of EGC systems on the market.

Sea Sentry is also highly adaptable, reliable and easy to manage at sea. The system contains self-maintaining features, including an integrated air purge antifouling system, automatic monitoring of optical sensor window, automatic PAH measurement adjustments for turbidity, UV absorbance and temperature, and integrated pump, de-bubbler, pressure relief system and flow metering. In addition, Chelsea Technologies works closely with leading global scrubber manufacturers to provide shipowners a package solution designed to safeguard their confidence in the system. This includes ongoing research and development and an in-depth knowledge of the stringent standards imposed by regulators.

Investments can be precarious in the current climate. Therefore, all steps must be taken to validate any recommendations for compliance solution to shipowners to enable peace of mind and safeguard operations. In the case of scrubbers, it is imperative that shipowners have an in-built capability to allow them to monitor and manage wash water, providing assurance, but also – vitally – a tangible resource for regulators, as well as insurers, charterers and financiers. To stay afloat in 21st century shipping means always being one step ahead of the curve.

For more information, or to place an order, contact our Maritime Sales Manager Emma Johnson by emailing

Press contact: Ellen Keegan