Letter: ‘Inferstrukchur’


Dear editor,

I was born in Oregon. But my father and I moved to California where I finished my last two years of high school. I immediately joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington for nine months then was sent overseas.

When my enlistment was done I went back to Seattle. I started college studying music with a minor in languages. After three years I (accidentally) discovered the maritime industry and never looked back.

I studied hydraulics and pneumatics and soon was going out to the vessels and really started learning about the engines, transmissions, propellers and you name it. The naval architects and marine engineers were incredible. I must have driven them crazy answering questions. Those were the days when the vessels all were running on diesel fuel.

To bring us to modern times the industry is struggling to find suitable fuels and equipment to make our atmosphere "green". I see things now that bother me as too many people are insisting all of this has to happen right now. They think we can turn off the fossil fuels and everything will be wonderful. Sorry folks, it isn’t going to happen. I can't even begin to name all of the things that are made from fossil fuels. All of this will take time. Not only the auto industry but the maritime industry is diligently working to discover the best fuels to use.

The international maritime organization (IMO) has set revised decarbonization targets to promote the implementation of zero and near-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission fuels, and energy sources, reduce carbon intensity, and reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. To meet these ambitious targets, the maritime industry has turned to alternative fuels, such as ammonia, methanol, hydrogen and battery electrification, as one such decarbonization solution.

Classification societies are working to develop a set of fuel rules as not one type of fuel will work with all vessels. There are already electric tugs working in harbors in our country. A company in Seattle, Elliott Bay Design Group, has designed the world's first methanol-fueled tugboat named Hydrogen One.

EBDG engineers have engaged with the United States Coast Guard to develop regulations relevant to this technology and have provided feedback and findings to class societies interested in refining alternative fuel rules.

Even solar, wind and batteries, which are considered the greenest of current technologies, have considerable environmental challenges relating to production and end-of-life recycling. It's estimated that 43 million tons of blades will be decommissioned in the next 20 years. The blades range from 100 to 300 feet in length and have no residual value and are notoriously difficult to recycle. Solar cells and battery technology have the similar recycling and disposal problems.

As you can see, we have more than one problem. We need to stop protesting and trying to hurry things. We need "infrastructure" and let these companies around the world come up with the solutions to make things "green.” I believe it will happen.

-Chuck Kearns, Dixon