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Air Emissions Initiatives

Marine transportation produces fewer greenhouse gases than land-based transportation alternatives. Great lakes-Seaway marine carriers are committed to continuing to reduce their carbon footprint and other air pollutants.

New Ships = 45% Lower Air Emissions

  • Shipowners are investing more than $1 billion (CAD) to bring a new generation of ships to the Great Lakes-Seaway over the next three years that use less fuel and produce fewer air emissions. 
  • Not only will some of these ships produce up to 45 percent less carbon emissions than existing motor vessels trading on the Great Lakes, but they will also have lower sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to smog and acid rain.
  • Many of these ships are designed to accommodate scrubbing equipment – new technologies that are being developed and trialed in the market – that will reduce emissions even further. For example, one Great Lakes-Seaway ship operator has ordered exhaust gas scrubbers that will remove 97 percent of sulphur oxides emissions generated by vessel engines.

New Technologies, New Practices

In recent years, several key technological and design advances have increased the fuel efficiency of ships, providing a commensurate reduction in air emissions.

  • Repowerings of steam-powered vessels to diesel engines has helped some vessel owners reduce annualized fleet fuel consumption by as much as 32 percent.
  • Hull lengthening and widening projects have reconfigured ships to carry more cargo.
  • Satellite navigation and electronic 3-D charting technology have maximized draft (depth of safe navigation) and thus increased cargo lift sizes.
  • Propulsion upgrades on existing ships have allowed for the installation of technologies such as exhaust gas heat recovery devices that reduce the need for separate diesel generation sets to heat and power ship-board services.
  • Voyage planning best practices and technological improvements have reduced ballast or no-load movements and minimized fuel use.


Case Studies

Algoma Central Corporation

Algoma Central Corporation, the largest Canadian shipowner and operator of domestic, Great Lakes vessels, will install fresh water, exhaust gas scrubbers on six new vessels that will remove 97 percent of sulphur oxides emissions generated by vessel engines. Read more.

Lower Lakes Towing

Lower Lakes Towing recently committed $15 million (USD) to convert its steam-powered ship SS Michipicoten to diesel power, reducing its fuel consumption and carbon emissions by more than 40 percent. Read more.