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Cleaning systems

Cleaning Solutions
Jahn Stryken, Stromme, Norway, provides outlines on how to deal with the
cleaning and maintenance problems involved in the sea transportation of bulk cement.

Stromme has specialised in solving
Cleaning is such an important part
of a ships operation; it is important
for hygiene in the galley, the crews
well being and reducing possible
risks of fires and explosions. If
cleaning procedures are not
planned and carried out satisfactorily, ship owners profits can be
affected by costly use of cleaning
This article will provide some
guidelines on how to handle the
cleaning and maintenance problems involved in the sea transport
of bulk cement. Only a small percentage of cement and clinker are
transported by ships, which are
designed for these cargoes.
Onboard bulk carriers of the conventional construction cargoes such
as cement and clinker cause the
crew a lot of hard work, and the
owners operators and managers
quite some difficulties in solving
the problems of this trade in a cost
effective way.

Transport of cement
The transport of cement and clinker accounts for only approximately
5% of the total volume of dry bulk
carrier transportation, but it is
growing in volume. It is a major
and profitable employment to
some specialised ship owners, to
others it proves to be a major problem resulting in heavy cleaning and
maintenance costs. The main problems are found during the loading

The Stromme Maxi-Gun provides powerful

cleaning from tank top level.

Cleaning systems

Figure 1. Due to pressure loading, cement

dust covers all parts of the hold.

vessels which are more suitable.

For example cargoes such as coal
and grain can be directed to the
Panamax bulk carriers, whereas
difficult or more sensitive cargoes
are more appropriate for smaller
vessels equipped with gear/double
skin, which are easier to clean and
maintain. Obviously, any operator
will try to avoid the difficult cargoes, or rotations of cargoes, but
at times of bad freight rates any
cargo may seem more tempting
than freighting air only!

Characteristics of cement

Figure 2. Cement lodged between frames

in hold number six.

Figure 3. Crew manually loosening the


Figure 4. Hardened cement and stains of


and unloading of conventionally

built single skin carriers, and in the
areas high above tank top level,
which are difficult to reach and
clean, unless the ship is equipped
with adequate working platforms.
Generally, a large fleet of bulk
carriers provides the operators
with more flexibility, because the
cargoes can be directed to those

When fixing a vessel for cement, it

is important to take in consideration that the cement may have a
temperature of 110 C when leaving the production, and is being
loaded at cargo temperatures of
up to 70 - 80 C. Very often, cement
is exported from cold areas, transported part of the way at low sea
unloaded in warm areas with a
high air humidity. After loading
the cement powder often contracts by as much as 12% once settled in the holds. These are perfect
conditions for water vapour to
condense thus solidifying the
cement, not only on the main
deck, but also at the upper parts of
the cargo holds.
The point at which water
vapour condenses and at which the
atmosphere makes the steel damp,
is termed the dew point. Where
incoming air or the steel has a
lower temperature than in the
cargo holds, the surrounding air is
cooled down and water vapour
condenses. When wet cement dust
dries on the steel it causes a major
cleaning problem, which can only
be solved by extensive use of manpower, efficient equipment and
Consequently, ballasting of cold
water adjacent to cargo holds
makes the cleaning difficult.
This problem can be reduced by
use of dehumidifiers, and in some
cases even by good ventilation.
However, dehumidifiers are costly
and are seldom part of the equipment found onboard bulk-carriers.
The problem cannot be solved by
such preventive methods.
Several characteristics of cement

in bulk make it a problem cargo:

When wet, it solidifies.
When manufactured, it is hot
and retains the heat.
It may easily stick to non-smooth
When contaminated by residues
from previous cargoes, it may
become useless as a binding

Planning for cement cargoes

When planning for a cargo of
cement, it is important to remember that heavy costs may be
incurred unless:
Good procedures have been
established onboard.
The very best cleaning and
access equipment is available.
If required adequate chemicals
to dissolve hardened cement are
The crew is equipped with necessary equipment for personal
The cargo holds should be clean
and odour-free. The slightest
amounts of residues from previous
cargoes such as sugar and ammonia
may cause problems. It is most
important to avoid condensation
during the voyage and to prepare
for the cleaning during and after
To obtain the best possible
results, it is recommended to begin
brushing down the bulkheads with
steel brushes from the very beginning. Hoses and compressed air will
also give good results.
During loading, it is very important to keep the atmosphere in the
cargo holds as dry as possible, and it
is a good idea to keep the holds
closed when not in use. If the climate is warm and humid, the
hatches should be closed once discharging has been completed so
that the outside temperature can
build up a dry atmosphere inside
the holds.
As with any difficult cargo the
upper parts of the cargo holds
cause the biggest problems, unless
dealt with as soon as possible during and after discharge. Ships with
onboard cargo cranes, working
platforms and gangway can be connected to the cranes to use two

Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT Bulk Materials Handling Review 2003

Cleaning systems
cleaning teams at the same time. If
the vessel is permitted to stay
alongside for a few hours after
complete discharge, the use of
cranes will save a lot of working
hours. The lower part of the cargo
holds can always be cleaned later
on from the tank top by using longhandled brushes, while hardened
cement on the main deck can easily
be removed later on.
It is important for the crew to
follow-up in the cargo holds when
the discharge work is almost
completed. Cargo residues should
be collected and filled into the
grabs for landing. Shovel-clean
means that the stevedores only discharge what they are able to get
into the buckets without sweeping.
The bilges and tank tops should
be cleaned prior to washing the
holds. As a precaution to avoid
clogged pipelines, the bilges should
be flushed for a minimum of 30
minutes before drying the tank top.
Only the most powerful cleaning equipment will remove hard
layers of cement. Other cleaning
equipment may seem adequate,
but is not cost-effective in the long
run. Some ships have experimented
with different kinds of acids, to dissolve hard and sticky cement, but
these are dangerous to work with
and can ruin the paint system as
well as equipment such as the bilge
If the ship is equipped with
general service pumps of a sufficient
pressure, a lot can be achieved from
the tank top by using the most powerful air/water cleaning equipment
available. The rest has to be stripped
down by high pressure cleaners at a
pressure of 350 - 500 bar. However,
as pointed out earlier, high pressure
cleaning equipment requires suitable working platforms to get close
enough to the upper parts of the
Obviously, more efforts should
be made to prevent cleaning problems from cargoes such as cement.
Recently, some ships have started to
apply special barrier or block types
of chemicals in the holds prior to
steel/paint from the cargo and
make the cleaning process easier.
They need to be applied in a controlled and time consuming way.

Figure 5. Hard cement on main deck surfaces.

Others have started to apply prewash chemicals, which can be

applied easily from tank top level.
Some of these chemicals have
been difficult to remove, and full
scale experiments should be
avoided. In the worst case, some
barrier type of chemicals may cause
adherence problems when repainting the cargo holds.
When preparing vessels for a
cargo such as cement, planning is
essential. If the holds need to be
water clean after the previous
cargo, obviously the crew will
require enough time to get the
holds completely dry before arriving at the port. This will completely

depend on the weather conditions

in the area, onboard ventilation
equipment, dehumidifiers, etc. The
holds need to be completely dry.

Typical procedure for cement

and clinker
Prior to loading
The sides and tank top need to
be completely dry.
The air in the holds needs to be
dried by use of dehumidifiers (if
on board) for some days prior to
Cold water ballast needs to be
avoided in tanks adjacent to

Figure 6. Cleaning by shore contractor.

Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT Bulk Materials Handling Review 2003

Cleaning systems

Figure 7. Acids being applied under hatch covers and deck surfaces.

Barrier chemicals can be effective when applied prior to loading, but should not be used
unless time allows them to dry
All holes/slots on the tank top

and bulkheads and all incoming

scupper holes should be sealed
with tape.

During loading
If possible blow the main deck,
hatch covers and incoming
tubes should be cleaned with
compressed air.

After loading

Figure 8. Acid solution being applied.

Main deck, hatch comings and

covers need to be swept and
cleaned by compressed air.
Same areas to be cleaned by high
pressure cleaning equipment
(and chemicals, if necessary) after
completed dry cleaning.

After discharging

Figure 9. Acids in hold number seven.

All cement dust from dry cleaning, and all cargo residues from
the tank top and bulkheads
must be collected and removed.
Cargo hold bulk heads must be
cleaned by compressed air, and
hatch comings and covers to be
thoroughly swept.
After dry cleaning, the holds must

to be cleaned by high-pressure
air/water. Chemicals and/or high
pressure cleaning pumps should
be used whenever necessary.
All areas need to be flushed
with fresh water.
To avoid packing of the
bilge/drain system, portable
diaphragm pumps preferably
should be used during the cleaning process.

After cleaning
All valves in the drain/bilge system must be checked.
The bilge system must be
flushed for a minimum of 15 - 30
minutes to avoid cargo residues
settling and gradually clogging
the system.
Stromme have close relationships with major operators of dry
bulk carriers all over the world. It is
in the interest of all to solve the
cleaning and maintenance problems caused by cement cargoes.
Presently, further full scale tests of
chemicals are being planned.

Reprinted from WORLD CEMENT Bulk Materials Handling Review 2003