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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  21 Jul 2010

MARINE: Shipowners May Miss A Trick


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RECOGNISING a growing problem in their field and seeing in it an exciting opportunity, the Paarden Eiland-based company Wright-Seal and Plastics acquired the SA agency for a product - called the Merus ring.

This apparently simple device, manufactured in Germany by Merus GmbH, very effectively combats such water-borne problems as internal lime scaling and pipe corrosion, algae, bacteria and legionella, which until the arrival of the Merus ring were quite difficult and certainly expensive to deal with.

It took a little time to introduce this new product to the South African market, but once customers realised what it could do for them, it was quickly accepted, and sales in the first year have been very good,” says Guy Sampson, Wright-Seal’s director.

Sales have been mainly to industrial customers ‘onshore’ so far, but shipowners are missing a trick if they don’t also take it on board, he says. The product, which has been extensively tested in England and Europe generally over a period of ten years, is being used by water boards, water treatment plants, large industrial installations, hotels, schools and food processing plants - but also by the QE2 and the Queen Mary ocean liners, and on the Royal Boskalis Westminster dredgers ‘Shoreway’, ‘Waterway’ and ‘Crest-way”.

The chemical tanker ‘Ardea’, and Hapag Lloyd’s containership ‘Tokyo Express’ have both got them, as does Safmarine’s box ship ‘Oranje’ and a number of other vessels. They are also proving highly effective aboard two Smit vessels, the ‘Sarah Baartman’ on their reverse osmosis plant, and on the sea water intake of the ‘Ellen Khuzwayo’, combating marine growth and corrosion.

The technology basically consists of a specially developed oscillating ring that is clamped around pipes. Once lime scale and other substances have been ‘disturbed’, as Sampson puts it, they are flushed through the system leaving water pipes free of scaling and bringing them back to high performance levels. This gives pipes, boilers, and tanks a longer lifespan, with less maintenance or servicing required, which of course cuts costs. Corrosion can be effectively eliminated, while existing layers of rust can be significantly reduced.

The technology can be used with, amongst other systems, reverse osmosis plants, separators, heat exchangers, boilers and evaporators. And here is one example of its value in maritime industry.

Most tankers have at least one evaporator installed, in which the seawater partially evaporates and the residual brine is discharged back to sea. The water vapour produced in this way is condensed at a cold surface to feed the ship’s fresh water tanks.

Usually this process results in the formation of a stony layer of salt, lime and other solids which absorb an essential part of the thermal energy which is normally intended for the evaporation of the seawater. As a result the evaporator’s performance is reduced, and freshwater production becomes insufficient for a ship’s requirements.

With traditional solutions, such as expensive chemical and mechanical cleaning methods, the evaporator has to be stopped for a few hours once or twice a month, which is not always convenient or even feasible. But using the Merus ring, you can do far better than this.

Here is just one example. Recently Netherlands-based sales agent Pronova adapted two Merus rings to the seawater inlet pipes of a tanker’s recently cleaned evaporator. Two further rings were clamped to the feed pipe of an evaporator that had not been cleaned.

According to Pronova, one month after the installation of the rings the tanker’s engineer informed the shipowner’s technical department that daily fresh water production of the ‘unclean’ evaporator, instead of dropping gradually, as was normal, had actually increased ‘quite significantly’.

The first boiler did not need any cleaning again, because its performance had not reduced. The obvious conclusion? The Merus rings had prevented the formation of new scale, and had dissolved the residual scale.

Sampson invites potential customers in the marine industry to contact him and discuss their requirements. Trial installations of the Merus ring can be arranged, and do not involve any alterations to the piping or any operational risk. The results, he says, will come as a very pleasant surprise.

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