Aerosols Emissions from Shipping

The primary source of anthropogenic aerosols predominantly arises from the combustion of fossil fuels. Aside from particles emitted by road traffic, shipping also contributes significantly to particulate emissions. Cargo and container ships, in particular those operated with low-grade heavy fuel oil, release considerable amounts of SOx, aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons, soot as well as fine and ultra-fine dust. Due to the impact on the environment and human health, there is a rising interest in the research of aerosol emissions from shipping, especially particulate ship emissions. [1]

Depending on the particle properties, atmospheric aerosol particles have a significant impact on the climate. They affect the cloud formation as cloud condensation nuclei and indirectly influence the temperature by absorbing or reflecting radiation. [2] In coastal and port cities, ship emissions substantially contribute to the occurrence of urban aerosol pollution. This pollution is associated with health impacts attributed to the presence of various pollutants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals such as vanadium and nickel, and elevated levels of sulfur in the aerosol. [1] To mitigate the impact of air pollution caused by shipping, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has established restrictions on the emissions of nitrogen and sulfur oxides. Within sulfur emission control areas (SECA), the sulfur content in marine fuel has been limited to 0.10 % since 2015. Outside the emission-controlled areas, a limit of 0.50 % has applied to the sulfur content in fuel since 2020. [3] Alternatively, the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems, so-called scrubbers, is permitted.

A comprehensive characterization of the molecular composition of the aerosol emissions from shipping can be achieved by using various analytical measurement methods, whereby both offline and online analysis are applied. Atomic emission spectroscopy with inductively coupled plasma is used to determine inorganic elements, while various mass spectrometric methods are available for the analysis of organic species, including IDTD-GC-ToFMS, GCxGC-ToFMS, FTICR-MS with ESI, LDI and GC-APCI. Furthermore, detailed online analyses of organic gaseous ship emissions can be performed using SPI-/REMPI-MS and HR-ToF-AMS. Aethalometers are used to determine the light absorption properties of particles. [1]



[1] Streibel, T.; Schnelle-Kreis, J.; Czech, H.; Harndorf, H.; Jakobi, G.; Jokiniemi, J.; Karg, E.; Lintelmann, J.; Matuschek, G.; Michalke, B.; et al.Aerosol emissions of a ship diesel engine operated with diesel fuel or heavy fuel oil.Environmental science and pollution research international2017, 24, 10976–10991.

[2] Schnelle-Kreis, J.; Sklorz, M.; Herrmann, H.; Zimmermann, R. Atmosphärische Aerosole: Quellen, Vorkommen, Zusammensetzung.Chem. Unserer Zeit2007, 41, 220–230.

[3] Ausmeel, S.; Eriksson, A.; Ahlberg, E.; Sporre, M. K.; Spanne, M.; Kristensson, A. Ship plumes in the Baltic Sea Sulfur Emission Control Area: chemical characterization and contribution to coastal aerosol concentrations. Atmos. Chem. Phys.2020, 20, 9135–9151.

[4]  Anders, L.; Schade, J.; Rosewig, E. I.; Kröger-Badge, T.; Irsig, R.; Jeong, S.; Bendl, J.; Saraji-Bozorgzad, M. R.; Huang, J.-H.; Zhang, F.-Y.; Wang, C. C.; Adam, T.; Sklorz, M.; Etzien, U.; Buchholz, B.; Czech, H.; Streibel, T.; Passig, J.; Zimmermann, R. Detection of ship emissions from distillate fuel operation via single-particle profiling of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environ. Sci.: Atmos. 2023, 3 (8), 1134–1144. DOI: 10.1039/D3EA00056G.