French company unveils first zero-emission ferry in Marseille

A revolution has arrived in the port of Marseille. The French company La Méridionale has just inaugurated “Piana”, a zero-emission ferry. It’s a long-held dream for the industry, constantly under scrutiny for its huge carbon footprint.

Dominique Robin is the director of Atmo Sud, a French air quality observatory. He specifies that the system is relatively complete, “processing both fine particles, ultrafine particles, but also gases.

He adds: It’s true that for a company like La Méridionale, it’s really exceptional because it’s not a giant in this area, so we can really salute the company’s commitment.”

99.9% reduction in air pollution, but there’s a catch

Anchored at the port, the ferry runs on electricity. At sea, sodium bicarbonate is pumped into the exhaust gases, triggering a chemical interaction with the tiny particles created during combustion. This reduces emissions to virtually zero. Christophe Seguinot is technical director of La Méridionale. He specifies that the advantages of this type of system, “beyond the reduction of sulfur oxides, it is the reduction of fine particles in mass, and ultra-fine in number, up to 99.9%”.

La Méridionale acknowledges that it has created nothing new. This technology has been used on land for years in industries such as thermal power plants, for example.

Seguinot adds that “the challenge for us was to make it suitable for the maritime sector, that is to say, given the volume and the weight, how to get it on board a ship when we take into account the issues of stability of the ship, of space.”

Although there are no emissions into the atmosphere, tons of waste would have to be produced and then buried. A lesser evil to air pollution, currently responsible for nine million deaths a year worldwide, according to the French Observatory Atmosud.

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