When we talk about air pollution, it’s easy to envision congested highways and the exhaust fumes billowing from cars and trucks. However, a less obvious yet substantial contributor to air pollution is often overlooked: marine vessels. From massive cargo ships to ferries, barges and tugboats, these vessels play a role in diminishing air quality in many cities and harbor areas.
The culprit here is diesel particulate matter (DPM), released from the engines of these ships and during power generation. The repercussions extend beyond the harbor, adversely affecting the health of local populations and making a concerning contribution to global warming. Black carbon (BC) accounts for a staggering 21% of CO2-equivalent emissions from marine vessels. These emissions don’t confine themselves to the immediate vicinity — they travel hundreds of miles from their source, further amplifying their reach and impact. It’s a stark reminder that the battle against air pollution encompasses not just our roads but also our waterways.
Recognizing the urgency of mitigating this impact, the maritime industry is turning to innovative solutions. One such solution gaining prominence is the use of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) with active filter regeneration, low back pressure and high particulate matter reduction capabilities. This article explores the pivotal role of active DPFs in commercial marine fleets for sustainable ocean conservation.
Tackling the problem of marine pollution
As concerns over BC, particulate matter and greenhouse gases increase, air boards and local departments of environmental protection and marine organizations now realize that propulsion engines and diesel generators are major contributors. To address marine pollution, governments and international bodies are increasingly enacting stringent regulations and standards. These regulations are not mere guidelines but legal frameworks that mandate the adoption of cleaner technologies.
For instance, in 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set forth a definitive decarbonization objective for its member nations: Achieve a minimum of a 50% reduction in total annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, relative to 2008 levels. The United States has recently joined the ranks of these nations. In the newly unveiled U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization, the federal government has formally pledged to achieve net-zero GHG emissions from the transportation sector by 2050. This commitment is particularly significant given that the transportation sector currently contributes to one-third of all U.S. emissions.
In 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) gave the green light to revisions in its Commercial Harbor Craft Regulation, targeting emission reduction from commercial harbor craft such as tugboats and ferries operating in proximity to California’s coastline. The primary goal is to enhance public health in neighboring communities. Anticipated by 2035, these amendments are projected to yield an impressive 89% decrease in diesel soot and a significant 54% reduction in nitrogen oxides. Beyond the immediate environmental impact, these changes are poised to diminish the cancer risk for more than 22 million residents residing near the coast and extending up to 50 miles inland.
Exploring marine black carbon control strategies
In addressing the challenge of marine black carbon, strategies can be deployed both pre- and post-combustion. Pre-combustion solutions involve minimizing BC emissions through methods such as fuel switching, fuel treatment or adjustments to engine operations and fuel delivery systems. Alternatively, post-combustion approaches focus on extracting BC emissions directly from the exhaust gas stream. An additional and effective strategy involves the use of diesel particulate filters (DPFs).
Employing DPFs as a sustainable solution
Diesel particulate filters stand out as the most efficient systems for reducing black carbon in exhaust gases, boasting an impressive removal rate ranging from 95% to 99%. These filters leverage silicon carbide ceramic fibers to capture particulate matter (PM) or black carbon. There are two main types of DPFs: active and passive. Active DPFs utilize fuel burners or electric regeneration mechanisms to prevent the accumulation of PM and BC, averting filter blockages. On the other hand, passive DPFs utilize catalysts for regeneration without relying on external energy sources.
In a comprehensive examination of the substantial impact of active DPFs on emission reduction, Rypos designs and manufactures DPFs that exhibit unparalleled efficiency, immediately eliminating up to 95% of diesel particulate matter from emissions produced by marine diesel gensets and propulsion engines upon installation.
When comparing these cutting-edge solutions with traditional emission control methods, Rypos’ active DPFs emerge as a durable alternative. These advanced technologies not only guarantee higher uptime but also contribute to significantly lower maintenance costs for operators. Beyond operational advantages, the implementation of Rypos’ DPFs creates a safer, cleaner environment for passengers, showcasing the potential for sustainable and responsible marine practices.
Commercial fleets adopting active DPF technology successfully
The case of the U.S. Navy exemplifies the real-world applicability of Rypos’ solutions. Faced with the need to explore sustainable options for their fleet, the U.S. Navy engaged in an extended field trial proposed by Rypos. This trial aimed to ascertain the compatibility of Rypos technology with the demanding marine environment.
In a notable instance, Rypos installed one of its active DPFs on a Marine barge tender, where it demonstrated flawless performance for over five years. Upon removal for evaluation, the results were gratifying, as the Rypos DPF not only met but significantly exceeded the project’s emission reduction targets.
Charting a cleaner course
Considering the increasing emphasis on sustainability measures, the adoption of DPFs emerges as a highly practical solution for mitigating emissions from diesel-powered equipment. The immediate reduction in air pollution facilitated by DPFs is not merely a choice but a necessity for preserving the vitality of our oceans and safeguarding the health of residents.
Manufacturers of after-treatment solutions play a crucial role in modeling emissions reductions for vessels based on their respective generators’ emission data sheets. Providing this data to consulting engineers, operations teams and relevant EHS groups becomes instrumental in informed decision-making. The awareness of percentage reductions in particulate matter, black carbon and nitrogen oxides serves as an eye-opener, facilitating well-informed operational choices.
Acknowledging concerns among operations personnel regarding the operation of these systems due to a lack of previous experience, manufacturers have stepped up in terms of training and education. The improvement in onsite and online support, enhanced training courses and technical webinars reflects a commitment to ensuring seamless integration and operation of emission reduction systems.
The transformative impact of emission reduction systems
Drawing from historical evidence, once a vessel or harbor craft installs its first emission reduction system and witnesses tangible results, such as reduced odor and black smoke, and improved port community relations, this becomes the new standard. It not only showcases the efficacy of these systems but also underscores their transformative impact on the operational and environmental landscape.
In embracing emission reduction systems, vessels not only set a new standard but also embark on a sustainable journey, exemplifying how cleaner operations can profoundly reshape both the maritime industry and its environmental footprint.