When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the shipping industry is neither lean nor green.
‘Ships carry about 90 percent of global trade, and until recently, such has been the demand for coal, cars and electronics, that there has been little concerted effort to rein in the growth of polluting emissions from ships. But pressure is growing in the United Nations and from the European Union to make ships more efficient and their smokestacks more climate friendly. Just a few kilometres from one of the busiest ports in the world, a Singapore firm says it has the answer that can help the shipping industry clean up its act. Ecospec says it has invented and tested a patented method that removes planet-warming carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, which causes acid rain, and soot from ship exhausts. The process, which uses very alkaline sea water sprayed into the exhaust funnel to scrub out the gases and soot, has already been tested on a tanker and earned the backing of the American Bureau of Shipping. Inventor Chew Hwee Hong said his firm had already developed non-chemical methods of water treatment and in 2008 was given a challenge by a large Middle Eastern tanker firm to find a way to scrub out CO2 emissions. The trick was to find a method that didn’t cause secondary environmental damage and cleaned up the other polluting gases in the exhaust as well, he said.