Air Pollutants Reduced by Hundreds of Tons!



ECA has really become the buzzword in shipping and we are 12 months past the ECA regulation enforcement.  Did the maritime industry achieve what was required to be achieved by controlling the fuel sulphur%?

Starcrest Consulting Group, LLC, – recently commissioned a study to quantify how much less air pollution is emitted from tanker ships due to the use of low sulfur fuel.  This study evaluated the air pollution from tankers, traveling through Prince William Sound during 2014, by estimating the amount of emissions that would have been released if the tankers had been using fuel with a sulfur content of 2.7, 1.0, or 0.1 percent.

Speed Read:

  1. The study found that nitrogen oxide emissions are somewhat reduced, but both particulate matter and sulfur dioxide emissions are substantially reduced.
  2. By using 0.1 percent sulfur fuel, tankers in the Sound reduced emissions by approximately
    1. 426 tons of sulfur dioxide (96% reduction in sulfur dioxide),
    2. 33 tons of particulate matter, (80% reduction in particulate matter) and
    3. 29 tons of nitrogen oxides (6% reduction in nitrogen oxides) annually compared to using 2.7 percent sulfur fuel.
  3. A reduction of 33 tons of particulate matter is the equivalent to the emissions from about 5,000 heavy-duty diesel trucks operating for a year, while a reduction of 426 tons of sulfur dioxide would be equal to the annual emissions from approximately 444,000 heavy-duty diesel trucks.
  4. These significant reductions in tanker air pollution in Prince William Sound are attributable to regulations, developed by the International Maritime Organization, that target three air pollutants: nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.
  5. These pollutants are produced by internal combustion engines and released in a vessel’s exhaust.
  6. To limit these substances, the regulations mandate that large ships either use technologies such as exhaust scrubbers or cleaner fuel to reduce emissions.
  7. This emission reduction is achieved by burning low sulfur fuel which is about 60% more costly than traditional fuels.

The image below shows the percent reductions of PM, NOx and SOx emissions due to the fuel switching regulation requirement. The green bar shows the reductions from 2014 (using 1.0% S) to 2015 (using 0.1% S) if the activity remained the same.


The image below shows the actual 2014 emissions (1.0% S) and the 2015, 2020, and 2024 forecasted emissions (0.1% S) for PM, NOx and SOx. These three pollutants were chosen because they are the pollutants impacted by the North American ECA fuel regulation. As can be seen, SOx emissions dropped significantly in 2015 and subsequent years due to the change in fuel.


It is noteworthy that we have a positive report that the air pollution levels are reducing by the stringent emission regulations framed by IMO. Should you think that it is every ship operator’s responsibility to comply with international regulations? Time has come that some ship operators go beyond conventional ship management.  To reach an ultimate aim of reducing the carbon footprint and being energy efficient, it is time to seed Big-Data into ship operations and Management.  Technology has evolved far enough that data from ships can be transmitted to shore offices for data analytics.  All the emission regulations, meeting the targets or KPIs will be tangible only when you measure a vessel’s performance by the actual timely data available from the vessel. A thumb rule – “If only you can measure it, you can control it”, stays valid for all cases of performance monitoring or optimization.

With this in mind, Viswa Lab has designed a robust, flexible and simple tool called “VEEMS” (Viswa Energy Efficiency Management System) – to enable every ship operator achieve the energy efficiency and thus reduce the carbon footprint. Feel free to download the VEEMS booklet here.