Environmentally Conscious Cargo Ships

Hi everyone, happy Green Tech Thursday!


Today’s topic is Environmentally Conscious Cargo Shipping.


The shipping industry is an incredibly polluting industry. There are about 90,000 active cargo ships, which produce 18-30% of the entire world’s NOx emissions! NOx emissions are responsible for smog, acid rain, fine particles—which we inhale—and ground level smog, which is a gas that causes a range of negative health effects.


Fortunately, the EU and the UN are expected to change the laws surrounding shipping pollution. One of the laws would result in a 230-mile buffer zone along US and Canada coasts. This buffer zone would reduce the NOx and SOx emissions significantly, saving the lives of 8,000 people who would have died from complications caused by air pollution!


There is more good news, however. The shipping industry is slowly moving towards a zero-emission future by bringing back sails and developing brand-new technology. The downside to sailing cargo ships is that, while they have no emission during travel, they can’t haul the same amount of supplies as the enormous, polluting cargo ships can. A company called Neoline is developing ships that are longer than football fields and will be able to carry up to 500 cars in one go. Neoline’s first 2 ships will still have diesel-electric engines for auxiliary power but this will be converted to hydrogen and solar, truly making them emission free.


Another way to change the industry comes in the form of electric ships such as the Yara Birkeland, a Norwegian beauty. The ship runs entirely on electricity but requires many stops to recharge. The development of new hydrogen cell technology would allow the Yara Birkeland to travel much longer distances in one go and fulfill its goal, which is to replace 40,000 trips by truck a year.


The shipping industry will not reach an emission-free future anytime soon because sails only work on windy routes and electric ships don’t have the capacity to travel very long distances yet but a serious reduction in emission is coming. For an industry that contributes 3% of the world’s carbon emissions (the flying industry is responsible for 2.4%), this will have a huge impact!


Thanks again for reading and see you next week!


Have a wonderful Thursday!



Some Links

Cargo ships are big polluters. Can they go back to using sails

Old News: Health risks of shipping pollution have been ‘underestimated’