Electronic descaling specialist, Environmental Treatment Concepts ETC), is on course to create substantial savings in downtime, maintenance, chemicals and renewal of water-fed equipment and pipework for Airtours cruise division, Sun Cruises.

The savings follow the installation of the Marine version of the patented Scalewatcher ENiGMA Electronic Descaling system on the cruise liners MS Sunbird and MS Sundream.

The Scalewatcher ENiGMA system has successfully treated the scale build-up in the fresh water hot and cold systems, swimming pools, chiller system and the seawater feed to the Nirex Fresh Water Generators.

The 22,945 gross tonnage MS Sundream and the 37,584 gross tonnage MS Sunbird, part of Sun Cruises fleet since 1997 and 1998 respectively, operate a full cruise programme. Scale build-up in the potable water supply and desalination plants on both ships necessitated the engineers descaling with acids and mechanical means both at sea and in dry dock.The Nirex desalination plant was being descaled every two months, to maintain sufficient quantities of fresh water. In addition, the Company had to frequently renew large amounts of the 2000 metres of ship's pipework, at a cost of £30 per metre.

Environmental Treatment Concepts Managing Director, John Thompson, was flown by Sun Cruises to Barbados and the Canary Islands to survey both ships fresh water supplies.

In November 2000 a team of three ETC engineers went to Barcelona to install the system onto the fresh water systems, the pools and chiller recirculating systems.

Whilst on board, it was decided that a spare Scalewatcher ENiGMA Electronic Descaler would also be installed, feeding the desalination plant's plate heat exchanger, which is housed in a vacuum chamber and regularly scaled-up. This usually needed attention every 2 months, whilst cruising, in addition to a thorough mechanical and chemical descale during docking periods, which could take up to 10 days.

In June 2001, ETC received confirmation from MS Sunbird's Chief Engineer that the units were operating successfully on the fresh water systems. In addition, he reported that the Nirex Fresh Water Generator had not required cleaning since the Scalewatcher ENiGMA had been installed in November 2000. This was the first time ETC had installed the Scalewatcher ENiGMA to seawater and was delighted at its success. This has opened up many more potential applications for this exciting, emerging technology.

So pleased were Sun Cruises with the results, it was decided to extend the treatment to cover all sea water services on MS Sunbird, including the fresh water generators and cooling systems on main engines, shafts and electricity generators. On MS Sundream, only the Alfa Laval Fresh Water Generator was treated, as ship's staff felt that it was not scale, but the growth of crustaceans inside the pipework of the sea water system that was causing greater problems.

Coincidentally, Scalewatcher in the USA had just produced a report on research it had carried out on the settlement of zebra mussels along the Welland Canal in Southern Ontario, Canada. The research, undertaken by Aquatic Sciences Inc, followed observations made in Japan where it was found that the Scalewatcher system not only controlled scaling but also stopped crustaceans populating pipe systems because of a lack of food, ie limescale.

The independent tests demonstrated that the Scalewatcher reduced the incidence of marine growth by up to 97%. A copy of this report was sent to Sun Cruises which has resulted in ETC being asked to re-survey the MS Sundream.

Neither the desalination plant nor the fresh water systems on either ship have required cleaning since the Scalewatcher ENiGMA Electronic Descaling systems were fitted over 12 months ago. These systems may also benefit from growing evidence that water systems treated with Scalewatcher exhibit significantly less corrosion.

"We use 300 tonnes of water a day on our ships and therefore it is imperative that the water systems work efficiently”, said John Wilson, Technical Superintendent, MS Sundream. "We are still evaluating the Scalewatcher ENiGMA Electronic Descaling system, but so far are delighted with the performance and savings we have made".

Established by Airtours in 1994, Sun Cruises began operation in 1995 with the acquisition of the MS Seawing and later that year the MS Carousel. In 1996, the company acquired the 1,150 berth MS Sundream, which began operations in 1997 and in 1998 leased the MS Sunbird. Sun Cruises summer itineries cover the Eastern and Western Mediterranean and in winter operates from the Canaries and the Caribbean.

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