“Plasma technology for removing nitrogen oxides from exhaust gases.”

The quantity of emission of harmful oxides from maritime sources is still growing due to the constantly developing maritime transport using heavy Diesel oils to produce energy on freight ships. In recent years, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has established Emission Control Areas (ECA) with strict regulations regarding the emission of SO2 and NOx so as to prevent the growing pollution of the environment. Such Areas already exist near the coast of the USA, in the North Sea or the Baltic Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea is also to be incorporated into ECAs.

Drawing 1 – Map of emission control areas. Source

The currently existing technologies used for the removal of NOx and SO2 are not suitable for the installation on ships, or their installation is expensive and difficult due to limited space on ships. As a consequence, certain ships, which are not able to meet the requirements imposed by IMO, cannot enter the designated zones which results in large losses for the maritime business. A solution proposed by IMO is the use of desulfurized fuels the combustion of which does not generate sulfur dioxide. However, this solution is very expensive due to the high costs of desulfurized fuel. Its price is higher by as much as USD 250 per ton. This gives an amount ranging between USD 3 and 5 million for a ship which consumes approx. 20,000 tons of fuel per year. In addition, this does not solve the problem of NOx emission as well.

Drawing 2 – Table of penalties within SECAs near North America for non-compliance with regulations regarding content of sulfur in fuels (or lack of desulfurization). Source

Example:If we take into account an excess at the level of USD 400 and the combustion of approx. 50 tons of fuel per day, this gives the amount of USD 20,000 per day (USD 400 * 50 tons = USD 20,000); in the future, this amount will increase to almost USD 40,000 per day (USD 750 * 50 tons = USD 37,500)

The new technology being the subject of the TANGO 2 project consists in the irradiation of the exhaust gas stream with an electron beam coming from an accelerator which results in excitation, ionization and dissociation of the basic components of the mixture. The results of numerous physical and chemical processes in the reactor are free radicals, ions, atoms and secondary electrons which lead to the oxidation of harmful substances. This method was successfully implemented for the removal of low concentrations of pollutants and high efficiency of the removal of NOx and SO2 was achieved.

The Tango 2 project “Plasma technology for removing nitrogen oxides from exhaust gases” will develop a hybrid method combining the electron beam with absorption methods. An advantage of this technology is the possibility of the simultaneous removal of pollutants as a result of the oxidation process by means of the electron beam and then the absorption of pollutants in water scrubbers. The achieved efficiency of the removal of both pollutants in the laboratory scale is very high and corresponds to the restrictions introduced in Emission Control Areas. It is expected that this technology will be competitive towards the currently existing methods enabling the removal of only one pollutant.


“Plasma technology for removing nitrogen oxides from exhaust gases.”

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