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On board testing services emerge to deliver data needed to clean up large tonnage ships
As increasingly strict government and international maritime regulations are phased in to reduce harmful emissions produced by large tonnage ships, the need for on board, in-use testing services capable of delivering the accurate, continuous emissions data needed has also arisen.
Slowly, but surely, the shipping industry is being forced to clean up emissions such as NOx, SO2 and particulate matter that is largely responsible for significant onshore pollution. Although much work has been done to clean up ports and marine terminals themselves, the next big target is large tonnage ocean going vessels, dockside vessels, harbor-craft and offshore drilling rigs.
The primary regulatory agencies driving this change include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), International Maritime Organization (IMO) with its MARPOL guidelines, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
CARB, in particular, has taken a leadership role with some of the most stringent emission reduction measures and deadlines. This is not surprising, given that Southern California ports handle 40% of all national consumer imports. As a result, the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles are among the nation’s highest polluters.
According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) oceangoing vessels are among the largest sources of nitrogen oxides (NOx), emitting more than all power plants and refineries in the area combined. Ships also contribute approximately 70% of emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) as well as particulates that create significant health risks for area residents.
Another point of concern is that foreign trade has grown dramatically which means more containers, more generators and larger engines. As a result, pollution from shipping and port operations is growing as a percentage of total emissions.
These issues are not limited to California. East Coast ports, waterways throughout the U.S. and even the Great Lakes are suffering from the same issues.
Fortunately, the clean up is already well under way at the ports. Over the past decade, marine terminal owners have worked to retrofit and clean up port ground and cargo moving equipment and turned to alternative fuel, electric and hybrid trucks, trains and tugboats.
Now, the focus is turning to cleaning up large ocean going vessels, their main C3 diesel engines and many auxiliary engines, such as diesel generators. Cruise ships, in particular, can have 20-30 such engines to satisfy their extensive power requirements. Diesel emissions from cruise ships while at port are a significant source of air pollution, with one-third of the total occurring while idling at berth.
These efforts will require retrofitting existing engines with aftermarket emissions control products or replacement with newer, low emission “green” engines.
Although this sounds simple enough, and is similar to the paths taken by other industries targeted by the EPA to clean up diesel engines, the absence of testing services and products specific to the shipping industry has been a roadblock to progress.
Testing that Meets All Regulations
Until recently, a comprehensive testing service that meets the requirements of every existing regulation has not been available to shipping companies. Neither have the commercial devices required to conduct the testing.
There are several handheld diesel engine testing devices approved by the EPA on the market, but most do not meet all the regulations of ISO 8178 testing required by CARB, EPA and IMO. Many are electrochemical-based analyzers, as opposed to the chemiluminescent detectors outlined in the test protocol. Many cannot be calibrated, either, another ISO 8178 requirement.
To meet all the regulations laid out by CARB, IMO and the EPA, an on board testing service would not just be a snapshot of engine performance, but would have to include ongoing &ldq
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