STAX Engineering’s Pollution-Capturing Tech

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  • California’s largest ports are taking innovative steps to combat air pollution caused by maritime shipping, deploying pollution-capturing technology developed by Long Beach-based startup STAX Engineering.
  • This technology aims to reduce emissions and improve air quality, particularly in communities near ports.

STAX Engineering has introduced its pollution-capturing technology at major ports, including the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland. The system is incorporated into a distinctive green barge, equipped with a 270-foot bendable arm. This arm hovers over a vessel’s smokestack, collecting exhaust through hoses, filters, and pumps—a concept reminiscent of a giant range hood.

Impact on Air Quality

Maritime shipping is a significant contributor to carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution, adversely affecting the health of communities residing near ports. STAX Engineering’s technology operates on renewable diesel and is designed to capture and filter exhaust from container ships and auto carriers. The system boasts an impressive removal rate, eliminating 99% of diesel particulate matter and 95% of nitrogen oxide. The result is the release of pollution-stripped gas, including a mixture of CO2 and water vapor.

Regulations and Challenges

To address air pollution concerns, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has implemented regulations requiring certain ocean-going vessels to reduce emissions by at least 80% while at berth. While shore power connections are one method to achieve this reduction, retrofitting larger ships for such connections poses challenges in terms of cost and time.

STAX’s Role as an Alternative

STAX Engineering’s system provides an alternative solution for vessels without existing shore power capabilities or those challenging to retrofit. The technology offers a bridge solution while the maritime shipping industry gradually transitions to cleaner fuels like methanol and ammonia. STAX charges carriers an hourly fee for utilizing its pollution-capturing system.

Current Deployment and Future Plans

The green barge, housing STAX’s technology, has already serviced 44 vessels at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. However, considering the scale of maritime activities at these ports, this represents a small fraction of the nearly 4,000 vessels calling annually.

As CARB regulations expand to include auto carriers in 2025 and tankers in 2027, the industry is exploring alternative solutions due to the high cost of installing shore power infrastructure. STAX Engineering aims to play a significant role in this transition, with plans to build 20 treatment barges by 2025.

Investors and Future Goals

STAX Engineering’s investors include environmental activist Edward Norton, who serves as board chair. The company is on track to build multiple treatment barges, each costing around $10 million. This extensive fleet is anticipated to serve every port in California, positioning STAX as a key player in emissions capture and control technology.

Towards a Global Solution

While California leads in implementing stringent emissions and air pollution standards, STAX Engineering envisions a global market for its emissions capture and control technology. The company’s focus on modifying and upgrading its system to capture CO2 aligns with the broader goal of achieving net-zero emissions in the shipping industry by 2050.

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Source: AJOT