Public Affairs, The California State University

Keeping Ports Clean and Green

by Elizabeth Chapin

With California at the forefront of environmental issues, it’s not surprising that the state’s ports are also setting the bar for sustainable practice. CSU is developing some innovative ways to help keep our major economic engine running clean and green.

The California Air Resources Board mandates that by 2014, about half of the ships calling to California’s ports must be able to “plug-in” to electric shore power instead of running their auxiliary engines—reducing emissions to almost zero. In addition, fleets will need to reduce their overall emissions by 80 percent by 2020. These strict emissions regulations create challenges that call for technological innovation.

Scrubber system (top) to be installed on the ship Hamid Hefazi, professor and chair of the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at CSU Long Beach, is overseeing a project with the Port of Los Angeles that aims to develop another innovative way to reduce ship emissions.

The system “scrubs” emissions from the ship’s auxiliary engines by using seawater to filter contaminants. The contaminants are reduced to solid carbon and then removed from the seawater before it’s cleansed and discharged—potentially reducing ship emissions by up to 85 percent, with no electricity needed.

Hefazi says that the project, which is sponsored by the Rolls Royce Company, is set to begin in June. With the help of CSULB engineering students, he will go forward with the installation of the scrubber. After that, they’ll be monitoring how effective it is.

“Seawater exhaust scrubbers show great long-term promise and have the potential to be used in all cargo ships,” Hefazi said. “Pollution is a global and local issue. If we as a university can help with that, I believe we have made a very significant contribution.”

Cal Maritime Engineering Technology Students in the Power LabCal Maritime engineering technology students have also made several developments for low-emission ship technology. For example, they recently developed their own Selective Catalytic Reduction system to control diesel emissions. The system is now a part of the campus’ power lab and provides students with training and research resources in modern power generation.

The high-tech engine overcomes many of the typical emissions problems associated with diesel through sophisticated computer monitoring and control systems.