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New eco-hybrid fuel could help to reduce shipping pollution


March 31, 2014

The team observed reductions in emissions of NOx, particulate matter and greenhouse gases ...

The team observed reductions in emissions of NOx, particulate matter and greenhouse gases in its eco-hybrid fuel compared to an ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel at an equivalent power output

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The EPA has identified pollution from ships as a contributing factor to respiratory problems and premature deaths suffered by residents of the US and Canada. As such, it is in the process of implementing stricter emissions standards for ships operating within 200 miles (321.9 km) of shore with the aim of significantly reducing emissions by the year 2020. In a development that could play into these environmental initiatives, the SeaChange Group, a US-based start-up that converts agricultural by-products into clean-burning fuel, has been awarded a patent for an eco-hybrid fuel technology shown to to reduce NOx, particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions.

The SeaChange Group worked in collaboration with the Maine Maritime Academy to formulate a hybrid fuel technology for direct-injection engines. The solution comprises diesel and glycerol, an inexpensive, renewable by-product of the bio-diesel industry.

"International shipping has come under stringent emissions regulations and ship operators around the world are looking for drop-in fuels such as this one to reduce emissions and maintain engine power and fuel efficiency," said Dr. Richard Kimball, Director and Associate Professor of Engineering at the Marine Engine Testing and Emissions Laboratory (METEL).

In testing the diesel-glycerol hybrid fuel at METEL, the team observed a reduction of 25 to 50 percent in smoke emissions compared to an ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel at an equivalent power output. Emissions of mono-nitrogen oxides (NOx) were reduced by five to 15 percent, with the team finding a general trend in emission reductions in line with an increasing glycerol concentration.

The team observed a reduction of 5 to 15 percent in the eco-hybrid (EH) fuel compared to a...

Also corresponding to a higher concentration of glycerol in the fuel however is a lower energy density and therefore, an increase in overall engine fuel consumption.

The findings were representative of an initial proof-of-concept, and have seen the team secure funding from the Maine Technology Institute and the US Department of Transportation. The SeaChange Group and METEL will use the resources to test the technology in working vessels throughout 2014.

Source: SeaChange Group

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. He now writes for Gizmag, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, Melbourne's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.   All articles by Nick Lavars

So, it reduces NOx greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduces particulates (i.e. smoke) which will allow more sunlight to get through to the surface. One step forward, one step back, I guess.

Mel Tisdale
1st April, 2014 @ 04:02 am PDT

Trading NOx for smoke is a very good deal for two reasons. First, NOx stays in the air a lot longer than smoke. That alone means that long term, NOx is a much more serious problem. Second, when smoke (soot) settles to the ground, it usually absorbs a lot more infrared light than the ground (especially if it lands on ice), which increases global warming. Getting rid of both NOx and soot is actually a win-win.

1st April, 2014 @ 08:35 am PDT
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