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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Electric power to Ship !! Green environ measure at Port of Tacoma

The power plugs and sockets are perhaps one of the most utilised devices in modern day world.  Think of a few minutes of life without electricity !!
Goods which were alien to a particular region are now available in plenty – not only because of the purchasing power but more due to the revolution in transportation.  With efficient communication and logistics, even perishable goods are moved from one Country to another with ease.

The major part of these transportation happen through sea – by ships of various hues and sizes – the steamers, the bulkers, container ships, tankers and more.  Just as we put petrol for our two wheelers and Cars, the ships require source of power for moving.  Most ships use diesel engines to generate power for propulsion.  The power is transmitted to propeller shafts.  There are some modern vessels which use gas turbine also.    The diesel engines are classified by the speed (high, medium, slow), usage (automotive, locomotive, marine), opeation (2 / 4 stroke), cylinder arrangement (horizontal, vertical, radial) etc.,  The engines are mainly used for propulsion and for running the vessel besides the various application inside the ship which require power.   The field of diesel marine engines is quite vast and the engine itself is made up of several components.

Apart from the running needs, there are refrigerated containers (reefers) carrying cargo which require cooling.  There are also reefer ships which have reefer sockets to ensure that the temperature inside the container is effectively maintained.
The World should thank Rudolf Diesel, born in 1858 in Paris to German parents.  He designed many heat engines.  He patented method of and apparatus for converting heat into work.   In 1895, he invented and patented diesel engine.  His engine was the first to prove that fuel could be ignited without a spark.

Diesel engine is a compression-ignition engine which has internal combustion that uses heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected to the combustion chamber.  It is very efficient.  The fuel injector ensures that the fuel is broken down into small droplets, and that the fuel is distributed evenly.  The rapid expansion of combustion gases then drives the piston downward, supplying power to the crankshaft.

For moving a massive ship with so much of cargo placed on board, underdeck and above deck, it requires great amounts of energy to move.    Inside the Engine room spaces the machineries consisting of engines and other equipments.  While the main engine would propel the vessel burning diesel or heavy fuel oil, there will be auxiliary engines also.   Large ships typically more synchronized generators to ensure smooth operation.   The engine room would remain noisy, as even when docked, some engines would be on generating the much needed power for all its other operations.  Thus there would be no rest for those manning the engine room (though they would work in shifts)

Now there is yet another innovation – very recently the Port of Tacoma welcomed the first electric plugged cargo ship. Known as Orca-class vessels, the ships feature state-of-the-art redundant propulsion and steering systems that exceed state and federal environmental regulations, earning TOTE numerous awards in recognition of outstanding environmental achievement.    TOTE (Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc) is a privately owned Alaska Corporation operating a fleet of Ro/Ro vessels to Alaska between the Ports of anchorage and Tacoma.   The Port of Tacoma is an independent seaport located in Washington.  The first ship called at the port in 1921.   It is reported that sparked by an EPA (Environment Protection Agency of US) grant worth nearly $1.5 million, two TOTE cargo ships will now plug into electrical power and shut down diesel engines while docked during weekly calls at their Tacoma terminal. The $2.7 million shore power project will reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent during TOTE’s 100 ship calls each year in Tacoma. That equals about 1.9 tons of diesel particulates and 1,360 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

TOTE, a private shipping company that serves the Alaska trade, contributed about $1.2 million to retrofit the two ships to accommodate shore power connections and add some of the terminal infrastructure. The Port of Tacoma provided environmental permitting, grant administration and project management. The EPA grant was provided under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009 National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. In addition to retrofitting two TOTE ships with certified ship-side technology, this project installed a shore-side connection system and power at the Port’s TOTE terminal.

The shore power plug installation would help in clean the air.  It is stated by plugging in, TOTE & Port would use clean Northwest energy instead of fossil fuels and has the major benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emission, creating healthier air and spurring job growth.  Besides retrofitting of vessels with certified ship-side technology, this project has a shore-side connection system and power at the port terminal.   This project supports the groundbreaking Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, adopted in early 2008 by the Port and its regional partners.  Arising out of the growing concern about environmental pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  was established to consolidate in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection. From regulating auto emissions to banning the use of DDT; from cleaning up toxic waste to protecting the ozone layer; from increasing recycling to revitalizing inner-city brownfields, EPA's achievements have resulted in cleaner air, purer water, and better protected land.

A very appreciable effort indeed – don’t ask what can be contemplated in a land eternally having shortage of electricity with frequent power cuts and lay offs.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

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