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Hybrid Tugboat Cuts Emissions

UC Riverside scientists study what is believed to be the world’s only hybrid electric tugboat at Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

A new study by University of California, Riverside scientists of what is believed to be the world’s only hybrid electric tugboat found that the vessel is effective in reducing emissions at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Researchers at the UC Riverside College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) demonstrated the hybrid electric tugboat reduces emissions of soot by about 73 percent, oxides of nitrogen (which help cause smog) by 51 percent, and carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, by 27 percent.

The findings are significant due to the heavy impact port pollution – caused largely by diesel-powered ship engines and, to a lesser extent, smaller harbor craft such as tugboats – has on regional air quality, according to the California Air Resources Board, which sponsored the study.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest contributors to air pollution in the South Coast Basin, which includes most of Southern California. Diesel pollution in particular can have devastating health impacts, including cancer and a host of respiratory and cardiovascular ailments.

CE-CERT has been investigating port emissions since 2003, first from locomotives and later drayage vehicles and equipment. More recently the center has also studied emissions from harbor craft, ferries and ocean going vessels.

Authors of the study were graduate student researchers Varalakshmi Jayaram, the principle author, and M. Yusuf Khan, research engineers J. Wayne Miller, William A. Welch and Kent Johnson, and David R Cocker, associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

The clean tug used in the study, the Carolyn Dorothy, runs on four diesel engines and 126 batteries. Built by Seattle-based Foss Maritime, it began working the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in January 2009 and is believed to be the first and only hybrid tug in the world.

The study can be viewed online at:


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 20,500 students. The campus will open a medical school in 2012 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Sean Nealon | EurekAlert!
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