An interesting article was published recently by Polity.org.za titled "Developing nations key for CO2 cuts" which noted that shipping and aviation are the only industry sectors which are not currently regulated under the Kyoto Protocol. It further states that shipping accounts for nearly 3% of the global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Given this data, one would expect that pressure would be justifiably growing on these sectors to be more proactive in reducing their carbon footprint.
One of the largest contributors to carbon emissions is fuel. Fuel is used in almost any industry known, from agriculture, transportation and even in boilers. Fuel is an expensive comodity these days, no matter what industry you are employed in. Consider this then: if fuel is used widely, and, is responsible for most of the CO2 emissions, surely more research is needed into fuel technology? What if we could condition our fuel with additives to offset the CO2 emissions?
Since fuel is used so widely, let us look at a few factors which impact directly on how much fuel is used:
Maintenance is an important factor in the emissions debate. As an engine wears, tollerances and clearances change. A new engine is assembled to run at an optimum efficiency in most cases. Over time, an engine may not be performing at its peak. This will result is increased emissions and excessive fuel consumption. A dirty air filter alone can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 10%.
Then there is the issue of aerodynamics or how well a vehicle can overcome the forces of nature with the least amount of effort. Maintaining proper tyre pressure will reduce the road friction and hence inprove fuel consumption. The same principal applies to a ship which has its hull painted with a low friction product... if it can glide through the water easier, less effort is required by the engine and therefore less fuel would be used.
Our fuel quality is also a point of debate. Some people report that using a specific brand of fuel gives them better performance and consumption. Also the fuel delivered to our coastlines is different to that delivered at higher altitudes, specifically diesel with a different sulphur content. Regular fuel only burns up to 65% - 75%. The remaining portion of the "unburned" fuel finds its way into the oil sump (which contaminates the oil) and out the exhaust in the form of emissions. If we could improve the combution of fuel to 98%or even 100%, there would be less emissions. The other effect of this is that because the fuel is burning properly, performance and consumption are improved. Fact.
Lastly, driver training can have a huge impact on fuel usage. A schooled driver would know when to change, how to work through the gears effectively and therefore drive more economically, drastically reducing consumption and therefore emissions.
Perhaps it is time for the shipping industry to look at treating their fuel to ease their emissions. The technology of enhancing fuels is widespread. Many safe products are available today for use and their use is not limited... anyone can use it. The fastest way to reduce emissions is for the bigger users of fuel to be first in line to condition their fuel. Conditioning your fuel can drastically reduce emissions and if you get a saving of 10% in your fuel bill by using additives, that is a bonus.
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