Filtered ferries reduce air pollution from sea travel

A European ferry firm is catching the vast majority of pollutants from vessels with a not-so-new modification. 

The French ferry company La Meridionale, based at the southern port of Marseille, has installed a  filter system capable of capturing pollution from ships, in turn preventing emissions from entering the atmosphere. 

white and red boat hallway‘It’s an unprecedented solution, a world first,’ company chairman Marc Reverchon told reporters on board the Piana at a media event on Monday, pointing to the impressive efficiency of the technology as a major step forward in cleaning up a heavily polluting transport and freight sector. 

Overall, it is claimed that 99% of sulphur oxides emitted by the ferry’s four engines are being captured by the filter, alongside 99.9% of particulate matter caused by burning fuel. The solution follows similar designs to those found in power stations and incineration plants, which have been used for over 30 years. The system injects sodium bicarbonate into exhaust fumes, causing a chemical reaction with the small particles produced in combustion. 

‘We didn’t have to look too far. We didn’t invent anything,’ said Seguinot. ‘The challenge for us was to make it suitable for a marine setting.’ Waste from the filters will be sent to chemicals supplier Solvary for responsible disposal of the residue, and work is underway to ascertain if this could be recycled in the future. 

In February, shipping giant Maersk unveiled news designs for offshore charging buoys which container boats can plug into while idling outside ports rather than keeping engines running. 


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