Could seawater clean up shipping emissions?

California ports test seawater scrubber that aims to slash sulphur oxide and diesel soot emissions 

New technology that uses seawater to "scrub" particulate matter and sulphur oxide emissions from ships' exhausts will be trialled by two Californian ports this spring.

The $3.4m (£2.2m) project, sponsored by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, will see the so-called "seawater scrubber" filtering technology fitted on a container vessel for three years, in a move that researchers predict will almost eliminate the ship's emissions.

Jointly produced by UK company Hamworthy Krystallon and US eco-bank Bluefield Holdings, the scrubber filters out solid contaminants from a ship's auxiliary engines and boiler before they leave as exhaust. The seawater is then treated and cleaned before being discharged, while the contaminants are collected for disposal.

The trial is expected to reduce emissions of diesel particulate matter, classified as a toxic air contaminant in California, by 80 to 85 per cent, sulphur oxide by 99.9 per cent and volatile organic compounds by 90 per cent. Smog-producing emissions of nitrogen oxide should also fall by 10 per cent.


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