U.S. Navy Biofuel Trials Go High-Tech

Shipping giant Maersk will employ laser emissions testing system
| November 21, 2011

Biofuels used for maritime applications are gaining ground since Maersk Line Ltd., one of the largest shipping companies in the world, partnered with WR Systems Ltd. Megan Jones, transportation maritime program manager for WR Systems, says that Maersk has worked with WR Systems in the past and after the U.S. Navy sought the help of Maersk, the shipping giant looked to WR Systems to perform the emissions testing. “There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there saying they have something that will reduce emissions,” Jones says of the need for emissions testing. “Unless you have something that can verify that reduction, it is kind of moot.” The two companies will now put the Emsys laser-based Emissions Monitoring System to the test on the AP Moller-Maersk vessel Maersk Kalmar, which has been chosen for the U.S. Navy biofuel testing trial. Following two previous trials on U.S.-based Maersk shipping vessels that tested for system efficacy and the compatibility of the vessel under the marine approval process supervised by the American Bureau of Shipping, the U.S. Navy will use the EMS to determine and collect comprehensive emissions and particulate matter data.

The Emsys system was developed in part, Jones says, with the help of Maersk engineers, and the final testing system features a quantum cascade laser that tests emissions samples drawn from the main stacks through heated pipes that maintain the integrity of the sample during the entire testing process. The system records everything from particulate matter to sulfur oxides present in the emissions. Although Jones says she isn’t sure what the biofuel in use for the testing is, she insists emissions testing for maritime applications is an area that will grow. “Over the next couple of years as the marketplace goes towards abatement systems,” she explains, “companies will look to be monitoring what they are trying to reduce.” 

—Luke Geiver