- THE MAGAZINE
As increasingly strict government and international maritime regulations are phased in to reduce harmful emissions produced by large ships, some carriers are opting for on board, in-use testing to provide continuous emissions data.
Slowly, but surely, the shipping industry is being forced to clean up emissions such as (nitrogen oxides) NOX, (sulfur dioxide) 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 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 (marine pollution) 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 percent of all national consumer imports into the U.S. 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, oceangoing vessels are among the largest sources of NOX, emitting more than all power plants and refineries in the area combined. Ships also contribute approximately 70 percent of emissions of SO2, as well as particulates.
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 United States and even the Great Lakes are suffering from the same issues.
Fortunately, the cleanup is already well under way at the ports. Over the past decade, marine terminal operators have worked to retrofit and clean up cargo moving and port ground equipment and turned to alternative fuels as well as electric and hybrid trucks, trains and tugboats.
The focus now turns to cleaning up emissions of large ocean-going vessels, their main C3 diesel engines and many auxiliary engines, such as diesel generators.
In contrast to cargo vessels, cruise ships 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.
Another measure, one that will be mandated at Southern California ports, is known as “cold ironing.” In practice, the ships connect to landside power while they are docked, thus avoiding the use of their onboard auxiliary engines. Some new vessels are being built with cold ironing capabilities, but older vessels require expensive retrofits to take advantage of landside power connections.
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, 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, another ISO 8178 requirement.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 8178 is a collection of steady-state test cycles used for defining emission standards for non-road internal combustion engines in the European Union, United States, Japan and other countries.
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; it would have to include ongoing “in-use” performance testing over time to meet the ISO 8178 testing protocols. Such monitoring is required by both the EPA and CARB to demonstrate performance over an established period of time.
This is where things get a little complicated, says Mark Adair, an emissions control product expert for the past 28 years. In a career that began as a diesel engine mechanic in West Coast ports, Adair has worked both from the verification and laboratory test cell side of emission control with waste handling equipment, school buses, trucks, port ground equipment and now large tonnage ships.
“The type of technologies used to clean up those industries will essentially be the same ones we use to clean up ships,” says Adair. “The difference is, all those emission control technologies were developed in laboratory test cells under controlled conditions with engines removed from equipment and sent to the lab. You can’t pull an engine off the ship.”
This essentially means the testing service has to include devices that remain on a ship over time, constantly monitoring emissions – ideally with minimal disruption to the ship’s operation.
One supplier of on-board emissions testing equipment, GreenLink Systems, offers systems that provide CARB, IMO and EPA “acceptable emissions data” and also meet the ISO 8178 standards for in-use emission testing. It can also be used to perform the International Air Pollution Prevention engine re-certification required by the IMO and the EPA.
The OBET uses an emission testing analyzer and a continuous NOX emissions monitoring unit that remains on the vessel over time. Information from these units is relayed wirelessly via built-in 4G wireless modems to a secure, online database accessible over the Internet.
The emissions testing unit (ETU) component measures eight gaseous emissions, including hydrocarbons, NOX, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and SO2. Monitoring SO2 is particularly important as it can also be used by shipping companies to monitor emissions during fuel switching operations.
A key advantage is that the ETU does not need a laboratory technician to perform analyzer calibrations; it is programmed to run in an automatic calibration mode. After initial set up, it can be operated by a crew member.
The continuous NOX emission monitoring unit (EMU) is installed directly on the engine and exhaust system. The EMU remains on the engine to measure, record and transmit data 24/7, with new updates uploaded every few seconds.
The GreenLink Systems EMU is the first unit on the market that meets
The continuous monitoring unit has been designed with both upstream and downstream sensors to satisfy CARB’s Title 13 Div. 3 “Verification Procedure, Warranty and In-use Compliance Requirements for In-Use Strategies to Control Emissions from Diesel Engines.” The Verification Procedure calls for measurements of exhaust before and after treatment by a NOX emission reduction device, while establishing in-use performance and durability over an established time period.
According to the procedure, “…the mass emissions of NOX both upstream and downstream of the after-treatment device must be measured and recorded over the entire demonstration period.”
The data must be recorded at intervals no greater than 10 seconds, must include accurate date and time stamps that correspond with engine operation, and must be submitted electronically – all factors addressed by the device.
According to Adair, a testing system that transmits data wirelessly with remote access capabilities is critical to reduce the time, crew labor costs, equipment transportation and access to a ship that may only be infrequently docked in port.
Emissions data are acquired and uploaded in a secure database that can be accessed through the Internet. The emission data assists in all bookkeeping and reporting required by the regulatory agencies, reducing costs.
“The goal is to eliminate the need to go back on board the ship repeatedly after the equipment is installed,” says Adair. “With wireless transmission of data and remote access, you don’t have to go aboard the ship. You can conduct tests, calibrate equipment, change settings and even troubleshoot using a laptop or Smartphone while drinking coffee at Starbucks.”
The ability to monitor results is particularly important during the durability step of CARB’s verification process.
Emissions control products for diesel generators must be tested over a period of 500 operating hours, a task that could take 6 months on board a vessel. A failure, due to human error or the engine itself, would require re-starting the durability test from scratch. Sporadic tests run while the equipment is operating on board would indicate if there is a need to re-start the test from shore, saving valuable time.
On-board, in-use testing services will benefit the shipping industry on many significant levels.
To start, shipping lines can conduct independent, private testing to establish a baseline of existing engine performance – both for the main engines and the auxiliary engines used throughout the ship that factor into the ship’s total emissions.
This baseline could be used to determine how much improvement will be required in the coming years or to identify which engines are contributing the most pollution and need repair.
Testing services will also play a key role in identifying emerging emission control technologies that can be retrofitted on ships. Ship owners are constantly plied with new products that claim to significantly reduce emissions. A testing service that can measure emissions before and after the device will allow ship owners to separate emission control products that work as advertised from those that do not.
Testing is also critical to the manufacturers of the emission control products themselves.
To obtain verification as a CARB-approved product, an emission control product manufacturer must present preliminary test data to demonstrate the viability of the product. Then, they must secure the cooperation of a willing ship to test the product in-use where multiple baseline and post treatment tests must be conducted. Establishing product durability is another key step in the process, requiring in-use testing over an established period of time.
Although regulatory compliance is a primary driver, many shipping lines also see significant competitive and even public relations advantages to being at the forefront of the “green fleet” movement.
Proactive fleets can also take advantage of potential grant funds from local, state and federal agencies such as the EPA, for air emission reductions that go beyond current regulatory requirements.