OEM suppliers look forward to a returning scrubber market

After a setback caused by the impact of COVID-19 and low oil prices, the global marine scrubber market is picking up speed again. This is experienced throughout the entire supply chain, where companies like the Norwegian fan specialist Flebu anticipate strong demand for marine scrubbers over the next coming years.

The falling oil prices and COVID-19 brought an end to over five years of continued growth for the scrubber market. Now, the global demand for marine scrubbers is picking up again and is forecasted to become a 6950 million USD market by 2025.

With the increasing price of low sulphur fuel oil, shipowners are once again turning to scrubbers to comply with IMO regulations for sulphur emissions. This means more orders for scrubber manufacturers and their suppliers. One such company is Flebu, who produces high-quality centrifugal fans and other steel products for the maritime industry.

– During the initial build-up and acceleration of the marine scrubber market from 2014 to 2019, it was challenging to supply enough fans to meet demand. We have seen a total halt during the pandemic, but we expect the scrubber market to grow beyond the activity in previous years, says Trond Bøe, Group CEO of Flebu.

Trond Bøe points to the impact of the increasingly stringent regulatory demands, such as the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), which rates ships from A (best) to E (worst) based on how efficiently the ship transports goods or passengers. Between 70 and 80 percent of operating bulk carriers, container ships, tankers, and gas carriers require improvements by 2030 to keep a CII rating of A, B, or C.

Alternative fuels are decades away

The demand for scrubbers also depends on the availability of alternative fuel sources such as Ethanol, LNG, Ammonia, or Hydrogen.
– In the industry, there is a lot of talk about the feasibility of future low-emission fuels. Once successful alternatives have matured, sufficient infrastructure will be needed. Currently, electricity is not feasible for larger vessels, there is little faith in hydrogen due to temperature requirements, and the first ammonia-fuelled vessels are expected in 2026. The bottom line is that many ships will run on oil for many more years, and most of them will require scrubbers to meet emission standards, says Trond Bøe.

More complex scrubber systems

The tightening requirements also affect the design of marine scrubbers. As scrubber technology evolves to include more applications, such as the ship’s boiler, the systems become more complex and sensitive to pressure differences.

– The scrubber market is shifting from requiring huge pressure fans to more varied equipment. The boiler is connected to the scrubber system on many ships, so we must use smaller fans to precisely manage the pressure. This is why we design almost all our fans to customer specifications. Our choice of specific materials and impeller design is based on the composition of the gas and the dimensions of the scrubber system, says Trond Bøe.

Flebu has used Hoyer Motors as their main motor supplier since 2018.

– We have chosen Hoyer Motors for their extensive product knowledge, reliable quality, short delivery time, and competitive prices. In most cases, we use standard marine motors, but Hoyer offers great support for special solutions and, of course, all the correct types of approvals required for marine use, says Trond Bøe.

Facts about Flebu

  • Since 1955 Flebu has provided nearly 26 000 high-quality centrifugal fans, silencers and dampers to the global industrial power, maritime, and offshore industry.
  • The Flebu Group consists of the parent company Flebu International in Sandvika, Norway, with subsidiaries Flebu Svenska in Växjö, Sweden, Flebu Finland in Tampere, Finland, and Flebu Eesti in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • Flebu has just launched a new “Light” product range. A series of low-pressure fans useful for de-pluming and sealing air applications.