Speed limits on cargo ships could cut pollution by >50%


The latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) award-winning Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions podcast series reports that putting a speed limit on cargo ships as they sail near ports and coastlines could cut their emission of air pollutants by up to 70 percent, reducing the impact of marine shipping on Earth’s climate and human health.

Based on a report by David R. Cocker III, Ph.D., and colleagues in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, the new podcast is available without charge at iTunes and from www.acs.org/globalchallenges.

Speed limits on cargo ships could cut pollution by >50%In the new episode, Cocker explains that marine shipping is the most efficient form of transporting goods, with more than 100,000 ships carrying 90 percent of the world’s cargo. However, engines on these vessels burn low-grade oil that produces large amounts of air pollution. Because fuel consumption and smokestack emissions increase exponentially with speed, the authors explored how speed limits could reduce pollution.

The researchers found that slowing container ships to about 14 miles per hour (mph) reduced emissions of carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) by about 60 percent and nitrogen oxides by 55 percent compared to emissions at traditional cruising speeds of 25-29 mph. Soot emissions fell by almost 70 percent.

They suggest that imposing these speed limits on vessels near ports and coastlines could significantly reduce their pollution and protect the health of people living in those areas.


Speed limits on cargo ships could cut pollution by >50%

One Response to Speed limits on cargo ships could cut pollution by >50%

  1. Walter Treftz December 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Good idea but will be hard to enforce since “time is money” to shippers (I speak as
    retired bridge officer). Perhaps only way to enforce it is to assign an arrival time at
    next port upon leaving the last one. That way they’d have to kill time along the way
    anyway.

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