While the world is focusing on fuel economy and emissions standards for cars and light trucks, the floating behemoths that bring consumer goods to market from foreign manufacturers are a major source of global pollution. According to Edward Humes, author of Door To Door, the sulfur, nitrogen, particulate, and carbon emissions from just 160 large container ships equal the pollution of from all those cars. Now consider that there are more than 6,000 of those beasts of burden plying the oceans and you begin to realize the scope of the problem. Renewable energy propulsion systems for ships are vital to the fight against global warming.

renewable ship propulsion system

Eco Marine Power is committed to finding solutions to marine emissions. It has begun an in-depth study that will focus on the engineering issues presented by installing renewable energy systems on a variety of ships. The study will attempt to quantify the fuel and emissions reductions that sustainable propulsion systems — including fuel cells — could offer shipping fleet operators. Energy storage technology will also be part of the study.

More than a dozen ships will be included in the study, ranging in size from coastal tankers to large roll on/rolloff ships, bulk cargo carriers, and LNG tankers. The ships will be fitted with a prototype of  EMP’s EnergySail system — a rigid sail based component that can be fitted with a number of renewable energy technologies such as solar panels or wind power devices. Some will also be fitted with EMP’s Aquarius MRE — an integrated renewable energy system for ships that incorporates EnergySail technology with other elements such as marine solar power, energy storage and a computer system to monitor ship performance.

These tests and simulations will assist in fine tuning fuel economy and carbon emissions reduction models. EMP and its strategic partners are also working on a project to produce class-approved EnergySail units for possible inclusion into a new ship building project within 2017.

Last year the first factory produced version of an EnergySail was manufactured by Teramoto Iron Works and an EnergySail Test Station has also now been established. Greg Atkinson, chief technology officer for Eco Marine Power says, “It’s very encouraging that we now have a number of ship owners actively looking at how our technologies can be fitted either to ships in their existing fleet or incorporated into new ship building projects.”

Lowering emissions from cargo ships is a critical factor in the struggle to curb the world’s climate warming behavior. Ships are often out of sight of land an answerable to no authority as long as they are beyond the territorial limits of any nation. Only economic incentives — such as reduced fuel costs — are the only factors that will convince shipping operators to invest in clean energy technology.

Source: Green4Sea  Photo credit: EMP