Zero Emissions Ship Technologies and Ocean Health’s Impact on Climate Change

Until recently, little has been understood about the ocean’s surface microlayer (SML) and it’s role in global change. Latest research shows it is crucial. However, this has not been factored into the climate change model. This SML layer promotes the formation of aerosols and clouds; it also reduces the escape of water molecules and slows the transfer of thermal energy to the atmosphere. It regulates the climate. However, the SML layer attracts toxic forever, lipophilic chemicals, microplastics, and black carbon soot from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. This destroys the SML. 50% of marine plankton has been lost since the 1950s and decline continues at 1%/year. Without action, pH 7.95 level will be reached by 2045, even if we achieve net-zero by 2030, and the collapse of the marine ecosystem could lead to the loss of most seals, birds, whales, fish, and food supply for 3 billion people.

Elimination of both GHGs and pollutants such as black carbon, particulate matter (PM), NOx, SOx, trace metals and hydrocarbons can only be achieved by a number of technologies on a ship: electric systems, hydrogen fuel cells, wind propulsion and supplementary energy efficiency technologies. All have seen deployment on ships and commercialised to different levels. Absolute zero GHG vessels of greater sizes and power can be achieved by combining different commercialised technologies.

Madadh MacLaine
Secretary General
Zero Emissions Ship Technology Association

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