A Novel Approach to Reduce the Environmental Footprint of Maritime Shipping
Journal article, 2021

Maritime shipping is a strategic sector with a strong international vocation and management. The need to define regulations valid for many different countries without generating disparities of treatment slowed down the formulation of environmental regulations, especially for atmospheric emissions. In particular, regulations pertaining to the reduction of sulphur compounds allowed two distinct approaches: the use of low-sulphur fuels or exhaust gas cleaning systems, the so-called Scrubbers. The actual implementation of these solutions presents specific concerns either related to the toxicity of atmospheric by-products and to the fuel cost or to the generation of polluting washwaters that may need treatment before discharge. In this paper we analyzed the potential environmental benefit deriving from the use of a distillate fuel, not compliant with current IMO Sulphur Regulations, together with a Scrubber. The pilot-scale experimental results indicated that a limited amount of water and/or scrubber volume is needed to reduce sulphur emissions below regulations on maritime shipping, especially with the addition of NaOH reaching a water-saving between 25%-33% compared to the use of pure seawater. Experiments indicated that scrubber washwater PAHs emissions are within the available water quality standards indicated by EU and USA guidelines. A bottom-up analysis on heavy metals concentration shed light on the prominent role of metal-parts corrosion on the washwater emissions. Taking into account for corrosion phenomena, the actual heavy metals concentration in the washwater deriving from scrubbing was normally below the water quality standards.

Washwater emissions

Ships environmental footprint

Marine seawater scrubber

Exhaust gas cleaning system

Persistent pollutants

Marine distillate fuels


Domenico Flagiello

University of Naples Federico II

Martina Esposito

University of Naples Federico II

Francesco Di Natale

University of Naples Federico II

Kent Salo

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Maritime Studies

Journal of Marine Science and Application

1671-9433 (ISSN) 1993-5048 (eISSN)

Vol. 20 2 229-247

Subject Categories

Water Engineering

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Sciences



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