Green Tech Conference 2015 in Seattle (live blog)

I’m giving a talk on our recent paper (PeerJ Preprint) at the Green Tech Conference in Seattle today. Here is the agenda and my presentation:

And some notes I took during the 2-day conference in downtown Seattle.


Green Marine is a non-profit based in Quebec, Canada, that certifies environmentally sustainability in the shipping industry. The initiative has a growing number of Canadian and U.S. ports [Seattle, Long Beach, New Orleans] and has 50 supporters (NGOs [including Seattle-based Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Seattle Aquarium]. The number of participating organizations is growing (about 66% increase between 2013 and 2014).  Green

Panel presentations and discussion


  • Linda Styrk, Managing Director, Seaport Division, Port of Seattle
  • Stephen Edwards, CEO, GCT Global Container Terminals Inc.
  • Dennis McLerran, Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 10


The Century Agenda is the Port of Seattle’s 100-year vision: to be the cleanest, greenest port in North America.  The Green Marine certification program emerged as the best way to progress environmentally.  Stefanie Jones Stephens is Environmental Manager guides performance in different Green Marine metrics.

One practical example of the utility of the certification metrics is comparison with other ports and standards.  The Port was surprised to score low in the in-air noise metric because few complaints had been received (possibly due to their proactive outreach).  Quantitative comparison made it clear that an improvement could be made.

She showed videos of run-off filtering tanks (Harbor Island) and experimental above-ground gardens (“SplashBoxes” in areas where digging isn’t possible) for decreasing water pollution.  In a project managed by GeAlogicA and funded by the Seattle Foundation, Capital Industry built rolling containers that held volcanic soil and plants.  Port developed grant program (~$30,000-50,000 assistance to each participating truck/owner) that helped replace 500 trucks to reduce pollution during the 2000 truck trips per day.

Overarching thought is that the marine industry is very innovative, but perhaps too low-profile about it’s environmental advances.  The Port of Seattle has many other green innovations (biodiesel, stack-scrubbers, …), but too few members of the public know about them.


Container terminals (warehouse w/o roof!) are a distinct operation (e.g. from bulk facilities).  GCT is based in Vancouver owned by a pension fund in Canada with U.S. terminals in New York and Bayonne.  We consider ourselves a technological leader that serves 19 out of 20 global container shipping companies.

We didn’t know how we compared with other organizations in our industry.  Green Marine was chosen because its metrics are driven by the participating organizations, not our customers.

There is an industry shift to larger vessels.  Same number of ships, less weekly trips, and fewer companies.  TEU has nearly doubled in 10 years (~2003-2013).  Europe and Asia are seeing up to 20,000 TEU ships now…

Vessel sharing agreements group shipping companies (e.g. Maersk) into only 4 “customers.”  North American Emissions Control Act caused higher costs in coastal waters (and therefore quicker turn-arounds): cleaner burning fuel costs 600$/ton vs $400/ton in the open ocean.  These changes motivate investments in ship-terminal-truck semi-automation, scheduling, worker safety, and other logistics (e.g. no idling during waits).

Dennis (used to work for Puget Sound Clean Air Agency)

EPA has worked with 159 countries and the IMO to develop a uniform fuel requirement through the North America “ECA” (pronounced “Eek-uh” = Emissions Control Act requires large vessels to use cleaner fuel within 200 nautical miles of the coast).  This rule prevents 31,000 premature deaths, 1.4 M loss work days, as well as lost school days (through the connection between ship exhaust and human health).

EPA is committed to working with the industry to find innovations that benefit the environment as well as the bottom line.  Some examples of mutually-beneficial partnerships with industry.  EPA worked with Tacoma-based Tote (RoRo line) is converting ships to burn (non-distiallate) cleaner fuels or LNG, which in the long-term will reduce cost of consumer goods in Alaska.  Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA funding, RFP due June 15) has reduced pollution while returning value to the U.S. Government (usually through reduced human health costs).  The SmartWay programs helps partners move more goods for reduced cost, in part by building off EPA’s brand equity.

EPA is developing a national port initiative, building off experience and leadership (of CA Ports).  The key is for Ports to realize that they are stronger when both providing services to their customers and keeping their local communities and workers healthy.

 10:30 session


4 talks:

  1. Emissions scrubbers on the Algoma Equinox class vessels (Mira Hube)
    1. These ships are more fuel efficient and have reduced water use and noise pollution.
    2. We operate in emissions control area 100% of the time, so needed to reduce sulfur emissions (and NOx and particulates)
      1. LNG was an options, but there is a lack of LNG infrastructure in the Great Lakes
      2. EGCS
    3. Overview of exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS)
      1. Manufactured by Clean Marine (Norway)
      2. Closed-loop, fresh water, NaOH scrubber
      3. Base neutralizes acidic emission components;effluent is treated onboard, then discharged
  2. CSL’s Experience with Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) (Yousef El Bagoury; and Kevin Reynolds from Glosten Associates)
    1. How do you choose a BWMS?
      1. 70+ on market; 32 IMO-approved; 16 have USCG temporary approval…
      2. Glosten did early BW installations in 2006, so helped evaluate options
      3. Glosten worked with CSL to 3D laser scan possible sites in CSL ships
        1. How to fit (massive) pumps (2k m^3/hr!); heaters; hydrogen vents; filters?
        2. 3D models and equipment size guided plans for shipyard installation
    2. Lessons learned
      1. Lots of (EPA/USCG) paperwork involved in permits and Class approvals
      2. Site supervision and crew training are critical
      3. Clean ballast tanks prior to commission (ours had mud that clogged filters)
      4. Preparing for USCG approval (testing late summer, 2015)
      5. Other ships getting 3D scans by Glosten
  3. Saga Forest Carriers – Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) Case Study (Birgir Nilsen)
    1. Optimarin started as ballast water treatment company in 1990s.
    2. 225 systems at sea; 50 are in use (on bulk carriers, Naval vessels…); medium scale — up to 3000 m^3/hr (largest are 7000 m^3/hr, e.g. in cruise ships)
    3. Regulatory environment: IMO, but also USA (USGS National Invasive Species Act; EPA Clean Water Act; plus confusing State variants (e.g. CA, Great Lakes))
    4. Pre-market conditions: customer buys equipment and intallation through “type approval certificates” (which should specify limits, like UV transmission and/or temp/salinity…)
    5. Basic system filters first and then disinfects with UV light (up to 35 kW from single lamp!)
    6. Sage Forrest Carriers (Optimarin customer)
      1. Open hatch mostly in paper pulp trade
      2. 1-2 km^3/hr ballast flows
      3. 3D scans (through Goltens sub-contract) of 24 ships (4 different ship designs)
      4. Little to no space: used part of ballast tank for equipment!
      5. System successful, but key is user training and operation manual (via officer conferences)
  4. Membrane Scrubber Technology for SOx Removal from Engine Exhaust (Gerry Carter & Edoardo Panziera)
    1. Wet scrubbers (dry scrubbers are used on land, but takes too long to warm up/down & maintain)
    2. All designs use combinations of sprayers and filters and (Achilles heel) water treatment systems
    3. Ionada innovation is a ceramic membrane separation technology
      1. Provides surface area for the chemical reactions (resulting in a clean crystal)
      2. But without mixing with the exhaust gases
      3. No PAH wastewater treatment!
      4. Potassium carbonate is less toxic than NaOH; reacts with SOx to from K2CO3 (a fertilizer).
      5. $14 to purchase KCO3; $14 from sale of fertilizer!


1330 session


Cooperation between NGOs and Industry to Define Sustainable Development in the Canadian Arctic

Andrew Dumbrille, WWF Canada & Marc Gagnon, Fednav

  • FedNav (Marc)
    • Canada’s largest dry cargo shipping group
    • 1/3 grain, 12% steel, 14% alumina, 17% industrial mineral
    • 80 ships: 59 operating, mostly handysize (Lakers), but more and more supramax and ultramax ships
    • 24 ships on order, growth in part developing Arctic (Baffinland iron ore; Red Dog AK zinc/lead)
    • Has environmental policy
  • Working with WWF since 2011 (Marc)
    • chosen due to being leader in industry, only company in Arctic during winter
    • shared vision signed 2013
    • What does it take to work with an NGO?  Patience!
    • Shared goals: environmental; economic; polar guidelines
    • Completed “Best Practices in the Arctic” document
    • Challenges: goals are different!  Different positions on Arctic shipping (LNG only initiative is economic folly).  Other WWF partnerships are sometimes in conflict with FedNav collaboration.
  • WWF (Andrew)
    • 5M members, 5000 staff, 500 million raised
    • Hudson Strait: Reducing shipping impacts & risks (May 2015 contract report by Vard Marine, funded by FedNav)
    • Key recommendation was a Polar Shipping Operating Manual (e.g. marine mammal behavior, set-backs, etc.)

Radical Improvements in Vessel Efficiency


Lee Kindberg, Maersk Line (co-chairing EPA Clean Cargo working group)

  • Maersk enables trade with benefits and costs to the planet and humanity.
    • 90% of all goods transported globally are carried by ship
    • Ocean shipping 4% of global emissions (though NASA map still shows an impact)
    • Since 2007, Maersk has been able to grow containers shipped by 40% while lowering CO2 emissions by 25%
    • Energy efficiency makes good business sense.
    • Using Clean Cargo Working Group metric, mean CO2/TEU/km, levels fell from 70-45% between 2008 and 2013 through new vessels, eco-retrofitting old vessels, “smart steaming” and network design (which ports of call, scheduling, personnel efficiency competitions)
    • 2020 goal is 60% reduction
    • Voyage Efficiency Systems (communications between leading and following ships) has evolved to Global Voyage Center (in India staffed 24/7 by 10 masters & 10 chief engineers)
    • Terminal Efficiency Project: minimize harbor time to reduce local emissions, then slow steam later to regain coastal fuel losses
    • New ships higher efficiency and have enormous economies of scale (e.g. Mary Maersk carries ~17.6 kTEU at 2,200 miles/gallon/ton)
    • Of three new classes, biggest is Triple E: 18 kTEU, 50% more efficient (in part through waste-heat recovery systems)
    • Retrofit options: new bulbous bow (“nose job” helps when vessels that used to run 22-24 knots are running at 16-18), prop, propeller boss cap fin, engine de-rating, fuel flow meters.
    • Propeller optimization reduces cavitation
    • Committed to $1 billion over 5 years for retrofitting 100 of owned vessels
    • Reducing speed to <10 knots in Santa Barbara channel when whales are present… also have reduced speed on Atlantic seaboard (to protect Right whales?)
    • Big shippers have played a role in motivating lower carbon shipping initiatives, but so have our core values… as have the economics of increased fuel efficiency in an era of expensive fuel.

ECHO Program: Collaborating to Manage Potential Threats to At-Risk Whales from Commercial Vessels
Carrie Brown & Orla Robinson, Port Metro Vancouver (Environmental Programs Department)

  • Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation Program
    • Mandate under Canada Marine Act: facilitate trade but in ways that are safe for the environment
    • Initiated due to DFO status of species at risk and projected shipping growth
    • History
      • 2014-15 planning and launch
      • 2016-17 development of target and implementing mitigation
      • 2017 manage adaptively to reduce threats over time
    • Advisory Working Group
    • Acoustic Technical Committee: DFO, JASCO, NOAA, ONC, Robert Allan Naval Architects, SMRU, Transport Canada, UBC, U St. Andrews, Vancouver Aquarium, WA State Ferries
    • Work plan: acoustic disturbance, physical disturbance, environmental contaminants; timely as in the last month we had a fuel spill in English Bay and a fin whale on a cruise ship bow
    • Acoustic Disturbance focus areas: will include vessel noise “weigh station,” hull cleaning
    • Mitigation prospects: green tech, operational management options, criteria for Green Marine performance indicators (ultimately adding noise to air quality EcoAction program)
    • Physical disturbance: working with DFO to survey and assess strike risk assessment; whale sighting and notification system; west coast mariner’s guide…
    • Environmental contaminants: baseline sampling sediments and mussels, esp during hull cleaning

15:30 session


Whales in an Ocean of Noise: How Manmade Sounds Impact Marine Life

(Kathy Heise, Vancouver Aquarium)

Early hydrophone work was from lighthouse, small boats, and included interest in Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Shipping industry should keep in mind role of ship noise in cumulative acoustic impacts on all sound-using marine organisms (with other major sources being pile driving, seismic surveys, and military sonar).

Change is beginning:  2009 letter to Obama; IMO voluntary guidelines for vessel equipment and design (2014); EU Marine Strategy Framework.  Good news is that practical solutions are at hand.  It may be more expensive initially, but can save money in the long run.


Ship Noise in an Urban Estuary Extends to Frequencies Used by Endangered Killer Whales

(Scott Veirs, Beam Reach Marine Science)


Control and Measurement of Underwater Ship Noise

(Michael Bahtiarian, Noise Control Engineering)

  • Ship noise vs shipping noise
    • Analogy with aircraft and airports, but aircraft have a service life of 5 years while ships have one of 20-30 years, so quieting may be slower than what occurred in planes in the 1960s and 1970s.
    • Research and fisheries have much of the quieting technology (not just the Navies)
  • Vessel noise sources: cavitation, machinery,…
  • Ship Noise Analysis Software helps establish a baseline and then assess improvements
  • Mitigation technologies: insulation; vibration isolation; damping (spray-on and tile versions; from military innovations); floating floors/rooms; bow thruster and HVAC treatments
  • Existing benchmarks
    • International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (1995) ICES/CRR-209
      • applies to fisheries and research vessels
      • Followed by Europeans since 1995
    • DNV, Silent class, 2010
      • various “notations” (grades)
      • Notations depend on class
  • Measurement standards
    • ANSI/ASA S12.64: Established 2009, first standard for UWRN
    • Meeting next week to finalize ISO 17208-1: Precision method for deep water
    • General methodology (figures from ANSI/ASA S12.64-2009)
    • Facilities for UWRN measurements (can be provided to private industry by Navies)
      • SEAFAC (Ketchikan, AK)
      • Dabob Bay (Seattle, WA)
      • San Clement Island (San Diego, CA)
      • Florida
      • Halifax?
    • Noise Control Engineering uses BAMS (Buoy Acoustic Monitoring System)
  • UWRN Design Guidance
    • SNAME T&R Bulletin, 3-37, “Design Guide for Shipboard Airborne Noise Control,” 1983 (Supl 2000)
    • JIP/OGP Report
    • SNAME 6-2, MVEP GM-1, Ocean Health and Aquatic Life
    • BOEM Report 2014-061
    • Pending IMO Guide “Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise for commercial shipping (estimated to be issued by 2016); a bit of a compromise of US, China, Europe, and (opposing) flag nations like Vanatu


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