Ambitious new training centre set to open

Nov 30 2013

Alfa Laval’s Test & Training Centre is to be officially opened on 15th January 2014.

Originally conceived for the development of PureSOX and other emission control technologies, it has grown to incorporate far more than just exhaust systems, the company said.

Located on the site of the former Aalborg Shipyard in Denmark, the new Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre houses a large ship simulation facility with a testing area of 250 sq m, where one of the highlights is a new generation of PureSOX currently under development.

Added to this are a dedicated control room and a training complex for visitors, the first of whom were the Crown Prince of Denmark and the Danish Minister for the Environment, who toured the site during September.

“We’ve said that the Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre will be the closest thing on land to the machinery room of a full-sized commercial vessel and the truth of that becomes clear as the facility nears completion,” said Lars Skytte Jørgensen, Vice President of Alfa Laval Product Centre Boilers, which is responsible for the facility. “Nowhere else in the world will you find this range of marine equipment in a full-scale, real-life operating context – except on a vessel at sea.”

To as great an extent as possible, the centre is designed to mimic the operation of a commercial vessel. For this reason the equipment is not installed as isolated components, but rather as an integrated system complete with heat exchangers and other auxiliaries, Alfa Laval said.

There are several interconnected process lines, such as:

  • Fuel line - providing fuel cleaning, conditioning and forwarding prior to the engine.
  • Integrated water line - combining cooling/process water and ballast water flow.
  • Steam line - incorporating desalination, waste heat recovery and steam production.
  • Exhaust gas line - focused primarily on emission control.

With the exception of the combined line for cooling/process water and ballast water flow, these lines overlap in exactly the way they would on board an actual vessel.

What differs from a vessel is the way the equipment is controlled and monitored. Instead of equipment-specific control systems, the facility has a common control platform to which each component is connected. For the operators and technicians, this creates a single interface that can be accessed remotely from a single screen. All equipment can be steered from a central control room 30 m from the testing area, or even from other Alfa Laval sites worldwide.


Medium-speed engine

At the heart of the testing area layout and also connected to the control platform, is a large medium-speed marine diesel engine. This 4- stroke, MAN 9L28/32 engine weighs around 48 tonnes and supplies about 2 MW of output power, which will be fed into Aalborg's local grid.

Attached to the engine is a PLC for connecting it to the control network, as well as Alfa Laval’s PureVent, a centrifugal separator. PureVent will allow the reuse of the oil mist contained in the crankcase gas.

The fuel for the engine, which will initially be HFO and MDO, will be treated using a standard setup of Alfa Laval fuel line products. A high-speed Alcap separator has been installed for fuel cleaning, while a new version of the fuel conditioning module (FCM) will handle fuel conditioning and changeover. HFO will be pumped into the facility from the outside, where it is stored in a double-shelled 50 cu m tank with insulation and internal heating elements. MDO is stored in a smaller 5 cu m capacity tank.


Integrated water line

Also to be pumped into centre is seawater. This will come directly from the Limfjord, which is a body of water connecting the Kattegat Strait with the North Sea. For this purpose, an 800 m pipeline with a diameter of 250 mm has been built between the fjord and the facility.

On an actual vessel, there would be a number of separate water lines. But here the flow diverges from a single inlet into two flows: one for cooling/process water and the other to simulate ballast water. Primarily for the needs of the ballast water simulation, a flow of 300 cu m per hour will be delivered by the pipeline.

The ballast segment of the water line is fitted with a PureBallast 3.0 system, whose main component is a Wallenius AOT (advanced oxidation technology) reactor with a flow capacity of 300 cu m per hour. The system will be used for customer demonstrations, as well as for testing and product development.

The remainder of the water flow will be used to generate fresh water for the boiler and scrubber water cooling, as well as other technical needs. Desalination of the seawater will be carried out by Alfa Laval’s AQUA, a freshwater generator that manages the entire process within a single plate pack.

In providing low-salinity water, the AQUA freshwater generator is also an essential part of the facility’s steam line. Water that is not used for cooling will enter a make-up water tank.

The boiler served by the make-up water tank is also a part of two lines, since it is designed to take its heat from the exhaust gas leaving the engine. Alfa Laval claims to be the world leader in this type of waste heat recovery solution and the construction chosen for this particular boiler consists of bare water tubes.


Alfa Laval's Test & Training Centre will contain most of the machinery fitted in a typical
ship's engine room.


The steam generated by the boiler will be converted into district heating by means of a steam/water condenser. This, in combination with the electrical power provided by the engine, will make the centre an energy source for the city of Aalborg.

The exhaust line, which the waste heat recovery boiler is also a part of, will initially be the most research-oriented aspect of Alfa Laval’s centre. This facility was originally conceived as a means to speed up the introduction of emission control systems. With ECAs entering into force in 2015, emissions have become a key focus for both Alfa Laval and the marine industry at large.

“With new caps on air emissions approaching quickly, customers want to know that we have the innovative muscle to win the race,” said Jørgensen. “The resources of the Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre give us everything we need to put the introduction of new exhaust gas cleaning systems on a fast track.”

Besides pursuing further developments related to the PureSOX scrubber technology, the facility will be targeting NOX reduction. Having worked extensively with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) via the PureNOX scrubber water treatment system, the company will begin a parallel exploration of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) in a project with official funding from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. To this end, the exhaust line has been fitted with an SCR unit, developed in co-operation with Haldor Topsøe.

For the purposes of testing, there is also an exhaust gas heater, which will ensure the high exhaust gas temperatures necessary for SCR when the engine is not at full load.

All of these process lines form a strong platform for research and innovation. They will lead to faster introduction of new equipment from Alfa Laval. Perhaps, even more important than product breakthroughs, however, is the promise of breakthroughs in approach. By working with systems instead of components, the centre can add value for shipowners, ship operators and shipyards in a wider scope, the company said.

“One of the biggest things we’re exploring here is not the equipment itself, but the integration of that equipment,” explained Jørgensen. “Through tighter integration of the fuel line and steam line, for example, we expect to make substantial advances in energy efficiency. And as we perfect the integrated control system, we’re paving the way for a future many Alfa Laval customers want to see. When they can give us remote access to their systems, we’ll have a more economical option for troubleshooting, updating software and suggesting proactive improvements.

“The Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre is not only a place where we’re shaping the future, but also a place where Alfa Laval customers can experience it,” he concluded.

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