By BO SVENSSON
Alfa Laval marked the expansion of its Test & Training Center in Aalbor, Denmark, during a ceremony in early March. The expansion extends the indoor area from 250 m2 to 1350 m2.
The expansion of the testing space makes it the world’s most advanced test center for
environmental and combustion technology, regardless of fuel type, Alfa Laval said.
“Our investment in the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center reflects the extraordinary changes we see in the marine industry,” said Peter Leifland, president of Alfa Laval’s Marine Division. “Tightening emissions legislation is driving many customers from residual fuels towards LNG and other alternatives. As a comprehensive marine supplier, we must be at the cutting edge in supporting our customers, no matter what fuel they choose.”
Alfa Laval has a substantial portfolio of marine solutions for gas as a fuel, and gas as cargo, including Alfa Laval Aalborg dual-fuel boiler systems as well as a complete range of heat exchangers for working gas at different pressures. Another product is the Alfa Laval Fuel Conditioning Module (FCM) One Gas booster system. And the Alfa Laval Gas Combustion Unit (GCU) is an important product, which has a dominant place in the expanded center. The Alfa Laval Smit inert gas systems is a product also mentioned by the company. Alfa Laval pointed out that yet even more systems and products will be required in a very near future.
Since its inauguration in 2014, the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center has been a hub of Alfa Laval research and development in exhaust gas cleaning, ballast water treatment, steam production, fuel cleaning and other key areas. Its original 250 m3 testing space is essentially a full-size machine room on land, equipped with Alfa Laval products, which are installed and integrated into major process lines around a 2 MW marine engine.
The new, additional 1100 m3 of space has been added to focus on combustion technologies for gas and other fuel alternatives. Among the new equipment are burner systems, inert gas systems, and also the Alfa Laval Gas Combustion Unit (GCU), which is installed at the center in full scale. The GCU will be subjected to test flame and heat flow characteristics in different conditions and this way identify possibilities for improving performance even further.
The GCU itself provides some idea of scale when it comes to Alfa Laval’s investment in the center’s gas expansion. Designed to deal with LNG boil-off gas in a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible manner, the GCU measures 23 m from bottom to top. It can burn up to 4.5 tonnes of LNG per hour; roughly equivalent to 60 MW.
To enable indoor work with the GCU unit, extensive preparations were necessary. “During full load operation, the fans move 458 m3 of air into the burner. The automatic system opens up the large doors of the test facility, to provide sufficient combustion air,” said Lars Skytte Jorgensen, vice president, Alfa Laval Product Centre Boilers.
“Within 15 years, it is expected that thousands of vessels will be sailing with LNG as fuel, compared to the hundreds using gas today,” said Skytte Jorgensen. “We can clearly see emission regulations driving the trend. But the success of the transition will depend in large part on advanced technology, much of which has yet to be developed.”
In the expanded Alfa Laval Test & Training Center, this development is already underway. Alfa Laval is currently testing a new dual-fuel burner for gas-diesel applications on smaller boilers, which will later be developed into a multi-fuel solution in partnership with the Danish Technical University in Copenhagen. Elsewhere in the center, a development project is running for large burners and boilers, involving comprehensive tests with both gas and diesel flames.
The portfolio of solutions for Gas as Fuel comprises also systems designed to supply the LNG to the engines following the manufacture’s requirements.
FCM One Gas is an automated fuel gas supply system for the treatment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet the cleanliness, pressure, temperatures and flow rate specified for MAN Diesel & Turbo’s dual-fuel engines. Up to two high-pressure reciprocating pumps and one Alfa Laval PCHE high-pressure vaporizer are included in a marine design suitable for installation in an ATEX Zone 1 area.
Solutions for alternative fuels do not limit to LNG. Already in late 2013, Alfa Laval was selected by MAN Diesel & Turbo to deliver Low-Flashpoint Supply Systems (LFSS) for the world’s first methanol-fueled tankers. Since five years back, the two companies has been collaborating broadly on fuel conditioning for MAN Diesel & Turbo’s new two-stroke diesel engines with liquefied gas injection (LGI) technology. After methanol, 2017 will be the year of Petroleum Gas, and Alfa Laval will support MDT with a specific LFSS for LPG.
“The costs of investing in the center are far outweighed by the benefits and after just three years of operation, we can point to many areas, where our Test & Training Center has accelerated our R&D and improved its quality,” said Leifland. “Exhaust gas cleaning, where our Alfa Laval PureSOx platform is fully ready for the 2020 global sulfur cap, is just one example.”
Both in meeting new regulations and in paving the way for gas, the center’s technological edge will be vital in bringing customers the most environmental and energy-efficient solutions.
“The rate of change in marine legislation is increasing, and ship owners and operators are forced to keep in step,” Leifland concluded. “With the expanded capabilities of the Alfa Laval Test & Training Center, we will ensure that onboard technologies are ready to meet their technical challenges – whether the fuel is diesel, gas or something else altogether.”