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The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) is an independent, not-for-profit association focused on global trade.

Cleaner Engines and Cleaner Burning Fuels

PMSA companies are working to reduce emissions by using a wide variety of cleaner fuels, engines, and retrofit technologies that exceed most requirements. These strategies are constantly evolving as new fuels and technologies become available. They include using clean-burning biofuels; employing new “clean diesel” engine and retrofit technologies; and experimenting with new technologies such as propane- and natural gas-fueled terminal equipment.

  • Many PMSA companies are using low- and ultra low-sulfur diesel.  Others are exploring the use of ethanol-blended diesel, emulsified diesel, biodiesel, propane and liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered terminal equipment.  Electric cranes and retrofitting engines are other tools that many PMSA members employ to lower emissions. 
  • The use of diesel oxidation catalysts and emulsified diesel in terminal yard equipment led to major reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) and diesel particulates at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. 
  • The Port of Seattle and its tenants teamed up for a voluntary initiative to reduce cargo- handling equipment diesel emissions by retrofitting vehicles and equipment, installing diesel oxidation catalysts and encouraging the use of low-sulfur diesel and biodiesel. Terminals in California have already taken these steps to reduce emissions.
  • All on-terminal operations at the Port of Tacoma run on ultra low-sulfur diesel, a biodiesel low-sulfur diesel blend or clean-burning propane.  The port is also experimenting with gasoline-electric hybrid and fully electric vehicles.  With an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant, the port invested in diesel oxidation catalysts to further lower equipment emissions.
  • All PMSA members are in compliance with the new California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations requiring the use of low-sulfur diesel in vessels in California waters.  Voluntary participation in the Southern California vessel speed reduction program began in May 2001.  This program is responsible for reducing NOx emissions at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles by more than 440 tons per year
  • Many PMSA members that call at the Port of Seattle have committed to using lower sulfur fuel in their engines while at dock  By 2009, the use of low emission fuels among PMSA members reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 80% and diesel particulates by up to 70 percent.
  • PMSA members in California are working with CARB to accelerate the turnover of cargo-handling equipment at marine terminals to newer, cleaner engine technologies, offering pollution reductions of over 90 percent.
  • PMSA conducted emissions testing in conjunction with CARB, terminal operators and the University of California at Riverside to provide more data on the comparative benefits of LNG and clean diesel in powering yard tractors.
  • Industry has also partnered with CARB, the EPA, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and other state and local regulators to test innovative fuel emulsification technology that could reduce emissions of NOx from vessels by as much as 20 percent.
  • PMSA members are using Selective Catalytic Reduction technology proven to treat exhaust from ships, reducing 65 tons of NOx and carbon monoxide per ship per year.

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