The Port of Long Beach is working with a local company to commercialize an exhaust treatment system that captures smoke-stack emissions from cargo vessels to meet California clean air rules.
AMECS connected to Ben Franklin POLB
The Port of Long Beach is moving ahead to expand the use of a marine exhaust treatment system developed by Long Beach-based Advanced Environmental Group LLC (AEG).
In 2015, the California Air Resources Board certified AEG’s Advanced Maritime Emission Control System (AMECS), which employs a combination of catalytic reactors, scrubbers and diesel filters, as equivalent to plugging a ship into shore power when it comes to controlling particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.
Under California law that went into effect in 2014, 50 percent of all container and refrigerated cargo vessels at berth are required to turn off auxiliary engines that power onboard systems and hook up to electric shore power to eliminate soot and harmful gases that pose health problems for local populations. Marine terminals and vessel operators can use alternative technology if it proves as effective.
The rules don’t apply to bulk, breakbulk, and roll-on/roll-off vessels. Owners of containerships are only retrofitting vessels that regularly call at West Coast ports because there is no economic benefit to do so for those that get routed there on an infrequent basis.
The AEG system captures engine emissions at the smoke stack and funnels the soot and gases to an after-treatment device and particulate filter.
The barge-mounted system uses a crane to place to connect a hose to the smokestack.
AMECS underwent extensive testing for certain vessels and engine types, and is now used periodically by container lines, such as Mediterranean Shipping Co. and Hapag-Lloyd.
The Port of Long Beach is helping AEG pursue a Phase Two-demonstration for non-container vessels, which tend to have older engines with different designs.
AEG hopes to get CARB approval for the pilot project by late June and complete testing on various types of vessels by the end of September, owner Ruben Garcia said.
CARB has proposed a strategy in its Sustainable Freight Action Plan for possibly expanding the at-berth emissions-reduction rule to other portions of the maritime fleet and might try to implement it in the next couple years, according to Rick Cameron, managing director of planning and environmental affairs for the Port of Long Beach.
“So, we want to be prepared to have those alternative technologies to capture those emissions because the current cold-ironing (an industry term for running vessels on shore power) hookups at container terminals are not feasible. It’s just not cost effective to retrofit those vessels or invest in technology at those terminals,” he said in an interview.
Plus, the alliance restructuring within the container industry has made emissions compliance more challenging because carriers are intermixing a lot of vessels that previously operated in other trade lanes and don’t have the onboard electric infrastructure. The barge-mounted, emission-capture system provides them more flexibility for complying, Cameron added.
AEG, with the help of some carriers and government grants, is in the process of modifying four barges to house its emission-control system so it can provide more consistent service. One of the units will be deployed at the Port of Oakland, Garcia said.
The company also plans to build land-based systems for use at oil terminals after first testing the system on a bulk vessel offloading oil. AMECS on barges will be used to treat emissions from oil tankers at anchor, he said.
“I think what you are going to see is some facilities that would rather contract out barge-based service and not have the responsibility of a land-based system. But over time, some facilities may want to purchase a system,” especially non-container ones, Cameron said.