Foss Maritime last month was awarded a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Maritime Administration to convert a tug operating in the San Pedro Bay ports into a diesel-hybrid that lowers emissions and fuel consumption.
Hybrid technology is well suited for tugboats because, just as in cars, the frequent stops and starts help the system regenerate energy from slowing down into electricity.
In total, MarAd awarded $1.5 million to three maritime projects aimed at reducing air pollution from ship operations through the use of alternative fuels and technologies. It is the first time MarAd has funded innovative environmental projects through a competitive selection. Most federal assistance for testing new engine technologies in vessels or cargo-handling equipment, and retrofitting or replacing older equipment with cleaner options, comes from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign, for example, recently made $30 million available to states and project applicants for emission control and idle reduction-technologies, cleaner fuels, engine upgrades or replacements, and vehicle or equipment replacements.
Ports are under pressure to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, because the heavy fuels used by vessels and the heavy truck activity concentrates particulate matter and harmful gases near heavily populated areas.
MarAd said grant program is designed to demonstrate innovative technologies and practices and share data on the results.
Foss already operates two diesel-hybrid tugboats in the Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor. It built the industry's first hybrid tugboat, the Carolyn Dorthy,
at its shipyard in Rainier, Ore. The boat entered service in 2009. Earlier this year Foss retrofitted an existing vessel with the same system using a $1 million grant from the California Air Resources Board.
The MarAd funds will be used to convert the Alta June
to diesel-hybrid propulsion.
Foss and its systems integrator, Aspin Kemp & Associates, have received patents for their hybrid propulsion and energy management systems. The hybrid system is supplied by Canadian firm XeroPoint Energy Inc.
MarAd, part of the Department of Transportation, also gave $500,000 to the Southeast Missouri Planning Commission to replace the engine of the Mississippi River-based towboat Dan Wise
with an engine capable of running on biodiesel fuel. - Eric Kulisch