2 Cal State Long Beach Engineering Faculty Receive $1.8 Million Grant to Help Reduce Pollution at Port of LA

Two faculty in the College of Engineering at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) have received a $1.8 million grant to help fight pollution at the Port of Los Angeles through a new application of technology that has the potential to significantly reduce emissions of Ocean Going Vessels (OGV’s) by as much as 85 percent.

Co-principle investigators Hamid Rahai, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Hamid Hefazi, professor and chair of the CSULB Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, will work as part of a partnership between the CSULB Foundation, the Port of Los Angeles, Horizon Shipping Lines and Rolls Royce Marine, a world leader in ship technology design and manufacturing.

“One of CSULB’s missions, in addition to its primary mission of providing high quality education, is to support community needs economically, environmentally and in other ways. Pollution is not only a global issue but also a significant local problem. If we as a university can help with that, I believe we have made a very significant contribution,” Hefazi said. “In this project, we plan to use new technologies to reduce pollution. The project also provides an opportunity for our faculty and students to learn and grow.”

The technology is a seawater scrubber vessel system, which uses seawater to filter pollutants from ships’ auxiliary engines while at sea and in port. Seawater scrubber systems have been shown to substantially reduce ship exhaust emissions, including 85 percent for particulate matter (PM), 50 percent for sulfur oxide (SOx), and three percent for nitrogen oxides (NOx). Piloting of the technology will begin next spring.

“Seawater exhaust scrubbers show great long-term promise for reducing ship emissions,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz. “It’s innovative, next-generation technologies like these that will greatly contribute to better air quality and greener, cleaner port operations in the future. We’re glad we can be the catalyst to make that happen.”

This technology has been successfully tried on land-based applications, such as power plants, but not on OGV’s. However, Rahai said they are confident and there is scientific and engineering justification that it will work, but they will be testing for the degree of success.

Regulations stipulate that within 24 nautical miles of land, ships must use a costly high-grade fuel. Outside that range they use a lower-grade fuel at approximately a third of the cost. If successful, this technology will allow ships to use the less-expensive fuel within the 24 mile range, possibly saving millions of dollars, while meeting emission requirements.

Rolls Royce will install the equipment on the containership Horizon Hawk, and CSULB will serve as independent evaluator, using data to analyze and assess how well it is working and possibly develop ideas for improvement after it is installed.

Funding for the 36-month pilot project was made possible by the Port of Los Angeles’ $20 million Air Quality Mitigation Incentive Program. Established in 2004, the program provides financial incentives to spur evaluation and implementation of air pollution reduction projects.

“Ph.D. and other graduate students have been involved from the beginning and will do assessments on board at sea,” said Rahai, who also serves as CSULB’s interim associate dean for research for the College of Engineering. “This is part of the applied research in their degree program. It exposes them to hands-on, real-life applications of what they have learned or are learning in class.

“Also, diesel exhaust is carcinogenic to humans, resulting in increased respiratory and heart illnesses,” he added. “The benefits of reducing diesel emissions are improved public health, resulting in reduced respiratory and heart illnesses.”

Rahai also runs the CSULB Center for Energy and Environment Research and Services (CEERS), which in addition to this project, focuses on research, development, technology transfer and education in the areas of energy and environment. In addition to this project, CEERS has ongoing projects and activities funded by the National Science Foundation, South Coast Air Quality Management, Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Long Beach Airport, among others.

CEERS has very active advisory board members from local industries, including Boeing’s environmental division, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, SCE, Long Beach Transit, Long Beach Airport, and the Long Beach Unified School District. It also provides educational and research opportunities for advanced high school students through its Summer High School Academic and Research program (SHARP).

The Port of Los Angeles generates about 919,000 jobs in the region and about $39.1 billion in annual wages and tax revenues.

Fall 2011 Issue

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