The 1st January 2020 has been set as the implementation date for a significant reduction in the sulphur content of the fuel oil used by ships.

The Global Sulphur limit comes into force in 2020.

The Regulations

The decision to implement a global sulphur limit in 2020 was taken by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2016 and requires ocean going vessels to:

– Burn fuel oil with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5% (Reg 14.1.3, MARPOL Annex VI)

– 1st January 2020 – Burn fuel oil with a sulphur content of no more than 0.1% in designated Emissions Control Areas (ECAs)

Meeting the Requirements

In order the meet the global sulphur limit requirements, ship owners need to either:

– Switch from HFO to low sulphur fuel oil or

– Fit an Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) often referred to as “scrubber”

For owners who have chosen the EGCS option there are certain coating challenges associated with most types of scrubbers. The washwater used in wet scrubbers to capture sulphur oxides from the exhaust gas has higher concentrations of chemical substances and acidic properties (with varying pH levels). Exposure to low pH accelerates corrosion. Most standard coatings used may not have strong chemical resistance potentially leaving various areas unprotected.

Potential Coating Issues Related to Wet

Scrubbers (open-loop, closed-loop and hybrid)

– Internal systems of wet scrubbers (i.e. exhaust gas pipe / outlet pipes) can be subject to highly aggressive conditions which require coatings with excellent chemical resistance properties to prevent corrosion

– Outlet pipe area (hull) can be subject to the effects of the acidic nature of the washwater discharges (especially in the case of open-loop scrubbers) which can cause localised damage and corrosion to the hull area


With over 40 years’ experience and expertise in coatings with chemical resistance, AkzoNobel has the products and strategies to minimize any disruption in operation arising from EGCS’ operation.


To read more about the EGCS Coating Solution, download the brochure here: