Press Office


Cleaning up the sea air


It’s an age-old remedy that has been passed down generations and was a particular favourite of the Victorians.

But it seems ‘taking in the sea air’ could be more of a health hazard than a cure-for-all because of the pollutants produced by ships.

Now a team of international experts, including marine engineers from Newcastle University, are leading a major project to reduce air pollution along the North Sea coastline.

The Clean North Sea Shipping project (CNSS) has been set up to research new technologies for reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions from ships as well as to inform future legislation and raise public awareness of the problem.

Dr Alan Murphy, who is leading the Newcastle University part of the project, explained: “Air pollution around ports is significantly higher than in other areas and we need to find ways to reduce this and the impact it has on local people.

“What this project aims to do is assess new and emerging technologies which will clean-up our coastal air, reducing the levels of Nitrous Oxide, other gases and particulate matter which are harmful to human health.”

The maritime shipping industry is estimated to represent around 3 per cent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide. Due to significant expected growth of international trade, maritime emissions (CO2) are expected to at least double by 2050 if no action is taken.

The CNSS project, including 18 partners from six countries, is looking to reduce exhaust gas emissions from ships in the North Sea.

The goal is to reduce the impact of air pollution and greenhouse gases on the environment and public health, along the coast and within our ports and harbours.

Technologies being considered include replacing oil fuels with alternatives such as natural gas and incorporating waste recovery systems which recycle waste heat and gases.

Another option is to ‘plug-in’ ships to the mains electricity supply while they are in port so their engines can be switched off – a technique called “cold-ironing”.

Newcastle University is internationally recognised as a leader in Marine Science and Technology research with a focus on engineering new ways to make the marine industry more sustainable.

Built-up alongside the region’s shipbuilding heritage, the University now has a branch campus in Singapore where it offers degree programmes in Marine Engineering, Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering.

The University is also leading a £3m European project to revolutionise the way we harness energy onboard ships.

A new website gathering information on these mitigation technologies has been launched recently by the Clean North Sea Shipping (CNSS) project.  For more information on the project CNSS see:

published on: 24 March 2012