Shipping Emissions ‘Rival CO2-Driven Ocean Acidification’

by | May 17, 2013

shipping emissions Shipping pollution from sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrous oxides (NOx) along busy trade routes can equal carbon dioxide-driven ocean acidification, a study says.

Sulfur in marine fuel oil and atmospheric nitrogen create SOx and NOx in the exhaust gases from ships. According to the research paper that will be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letter, these gases — like rising CO2 levels — also increase acidity in the ocean, which can harm coral, squid, mussels and other sea life.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology, the University of Delaware and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies jointly conducted the year-long effort, which is the first global study on the effects of increasing shipping traffic in the summer, UDaily reports.

While it found that shipping emissions hurt coastal areas the most, it also concluded that the International Maritime Organization’s emissions rules for North America and Europe will drastically reduce the sulfur content in these areas from 1 percent to 0.1 percent by 2015, researcher James J. Corbett, a University of Delaware professor, tells UDaily. In other parts of the world, sulfur content will drop from 2.7 percent to 0.5 percent.

Researchers say this shows that areas without such emission controls need regulations to combat ocean acidification. Improving marine fuel quality and the technology to scrub stack gases and remove pollutants will help preserve the health of oceans and coastal ecosystems, the study says.

Teijin Engineering this week announced it has developed a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) denitration device for midsized ship engines that the company says will ensure compliance with the International Maritime Organization’s NOx emissions regulation, which goes into effect in 2016. The company says ship tests have demonstrated that the device can reduce NOx emissions by 80 percent.

Photo Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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