Hybrid Tugboat Reduces Emissions At California Ports

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest container ports in the nation, are home to the first and only hybrid electric tugboat in the world, and researchers at the University of California have found that this has had a big impact on air pollution.

The diesel electric drive train on the hybrid tug that allows the use of auxiliary power for propulsion was the primary cause for the overall in-use emission reductions as opposed to the batteries, according to the study (PDF).

Tugboats are used to help much larger ships maneuver through the cramped conditions of a busy port. As such, the tugboats are typically powered by marine compression ignition engines that are designed to be extremely powerful relative to the size of the vessel (ENN).

Because these massive engines require a lot of fossil fuel that sends harmful emissions and diesel particulate into the air, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have become the largest contributors of air pollution in the South Coast Basin according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

In an attempt to change this dirty reputation, both ports worked with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to create the Carolyn Dorothy, the first electric tugboat in the world.

The tugboat runs on four diesel engines and 126 batteries and cost the ports and Management District approximately $1.35 million.

ENN reports that after the tugboat’s launch in January of 2009, “researchers from UC Riverside’s College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology conducted a study to see how much emissions the new hybrid tugboat saved. They found it decreased emissions of soot by 73 percent, nitrogen oxides (smog forming compounds) by 51 percent, and CO2 (greenhouse gas) by 27 percent.”

Also check out:
Global Warming Skeptics: What About Air Pollution?
Is Chinese Air Pollution Dangerous To Americans?
World’s Biggest Cities to Report on Carbon Emissions

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Ram Reddy
Ram Reddy2 years ago

Thanks for the article

janine k.
janine k.4 years ago

The computer was being manipulated remotely. Invasion/privacy.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks, work on a tug for a summer when I was young.

Lynn C.
Lynn c.4 years ago

Yipee! &3, 51 and 27 percent reductions are a whole lot better than the status quo.

Krasimira B.
Krasimira B.4 years ago

Thank you Beth for the good news.

Janine Kaczynski
janine Kaczynski4 years ago

AND by the way, I am in NY not CA and it is 12:20 here. I am sick of this computer not listening to me when I set the time stamp. The machines have taken over and it's a crime.

Janine Kaczynski
janine Kaczynski4 years ago

CA always leads the way yet NY is trying too. I haven't heard about tugboat like that here, only busses. Even if you are right James, if you have lived on the water (the only best years of my life) you would appreciate not having diesel blown in your face. It also leaves a disgusting black film on the H20. Then, if you remember the 5th grade science project you did on the water cycle, you will remember the circular pattern the water played. The diesel comes down on your head James. Yes, right down on your head. So, the moral of the story is, if you don't want yucky diesel coming down on YOUR head, don't put it out onto the water. Oh why are we living these very stupid lives?

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman4 years ago

Good News

Ali O.
Ali O.4 years ago