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Environmental Monitoring


August 2015 Issue

Hercules-2 to Promote Green, Efficient Shipping
A major cross-industry initiative led by Wärtsilä, MAN Diesel & Turbo and Winterthur Gas & Diesel to develop basic technologies for use in two- and four-stroke marine engines has been launched.

The Hercules-2 project is aimed at fostering environmentally sustainable and more efficient shipping. It is in line with general European Union policy and is partly funded by the EU.

Altogether, 32 marine industry partners from 11 different companies, 16 universities and five research organizations are cooperating in this project.

The R&D efforts focus on four main areas: the application of alternative fuels and the optimization of fuel flexibility to facilitate seamless switching between different fuels; the development of new materials to support high-temperature component applications; the development of adaptive control methodologies to significantly improve an engine’s performance throughout its life span; and to achieve near-zero emissions via combined, integrated, after-treatment of exhaust gases.

The Hercules-2 project is scheduled to run for three years. The Hercules-2 technologies will eventually be employed aboard large ships.

NYC Tackles Climate Change With Panel on Risks, Resiliency
Stevens Institute of Technology researchers and ocean physicists Dr. Alan Blumberg and Dr. Philip Orton have been selected to join the Third New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC3) to advise New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the administration’s climate policy leadership on climate change projections and adaptation.

NPCC is an independent body that advises the city on climate risks and resiliency.

The last NPCC report, Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency, released earlier this year, focused on increasing the current and future resiliency of communities, citywide systems, and infrastructure around New York City and the broader metropolitan region. NPCC3 will build on that report by examining climate risks through the lens of inequality at a neighborhood scale.

NPCC3 will also focus on ways to enhance coordination of mitigation and resiliency across the entire New York metropolitan region.

The panel’s report is due early next year.

METS Receives CARB Approval
Clean Air Engineering-Maritime (CAEM) has received California Air Resources Board (CARB) approval for the first commercially ready ship emissions capturing system, called the Maritime Emissions Treatment System (METS).

METS-1 is CAEM’s first-generation system. It is mounted and deployed from a barge that is positioned alongside ships berthed at the Port of Los Angeles. The system is positioned over vessels’ smoke stacks and captures and treats more than 90 percent of particulate, NOx, SO2, and related diesel pollutants emitted.

The technology was developed in collaboration with Tri-Mer Corp.

METS is the first CARB-approved alternative to “plugging in” to shoreside power—also called cold-ironing or alternative maritime power—which is the current standard for meeting California’s “Airborne Toxic Control Measure for Auxiliary Diesel Engines Operated on Ocean-Going Vessels At-Berth in a California Port” regulation. Since January 1, 2014, vessel operators not complying with the regulation run the risk of not meeting these emissions standards and being hit with fines.

With CARB verification approval, METS is now a solution that other ports can consider to lower vessel emissions in their harbors and surrounding communities.

Partial funding for the METS project came from a $1.5 million grant from the Port of Los Angeles’s Technology Advancement Program.

Coral Research Part of Seismic Study in Solomon Islands
Researchers have found that parts of the western Solomon Islands, a region thought to be free of large earthquakes until an 8.1 magnitude quake devastated the area in 2007, have a long history of big seismic events. The findings, published online in Nature Communications, suggest that future large earthquakes will occur, but predicting when is difficult because of the complex environment at the interface of the tectonic plates.

The team, led by researchers at The University of Texas Austin, analyzed corals for the study. The coral, in addition to providing a record of when large earthquakes happened during the past 3,000 years, helped provide insight into the relationship between earthquakes and more gradual geological processes, such as tectonic plate convergence and island building through uplift.

The 2007 event was the only large earthquake recorded in 100 years of monitoring the region that started with British colonization in the 1900s. While studying uplifted coral at multiple sites along the eastern coast of the island of Ranongga, the researchers found evidence for six earthquakes in the region during the past 3,000 years, with some being as large as or larger than the 2007 earthquake.

During an earthquake, when the land near the epicenter is shallow-water seafloor, corals can be lifted out of the water with the land. The air kills the soft polyps that form coral, leaving behind their network of skeletons and giving the uplifted corals a rock-like appearance.

Uplifted coral make good records for earthquakes because they record the time an earthquake occurs and help estimate how strong it was. The coral’s time of death shows when the earthquake occurred, while the amount of uplift present in the land where the coral was found gives clues about its strength.

The earthquakes in the region are a result of the Pacific Plate subducting beneath the Australian Plate only 4 km offshore.

A theory of island building says that uplifts during earthquakes are one of the main drivers of land creation and uprising.

The earthquake record suggested by the corals was not enough to account for the measured rate of tectonic convergence. This suggests that other geological processes play an important role in tectonic plate movement and uplift of the islands.


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