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A tug toward greener port operations in U.S.

A maritime service company based in Seattle, Washington, has set out to prove that the old workhorse of the sea — the tugboat — can be mighty without leaving behind a mighty carbon footprint.

Foss Maritime Company is currently building what the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-fi-tugboat13-2008nov13,0,6166320.story) has dubbed “the Prius of tugboats.” Under construction at a factory in Rainier, Oregon, the low-emission Hybrid Tug is expected to begin service at California’s San Pedro Harbor early next year.

Built with the same dynamic positioning thruster technology that helps keep deep-water oil rigs in place, the Hybrid Tug will produce far less nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and particulate pollution than a regular tug, according to Foss. It’s also much quieter than most tugs, so noise pollution goes down too.

The design has already won the attention of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which this year gave it a Clean Air Excellence Award for Clean Air Technology.

Foss is also hoping its Hybrid Tug will receive Lloyd’s Register North America’s Green Passport certification. If so, the vessel would become the first tugboat in North America to have that designation.

The Hybrid Tug needn’t be lonely for long, though: Foss says the technology can be used to adapt existing tugboats for cleaner and more fuel-efficient operations as well.

Considering the standard tugboat is an energy wastrel — spending half its time idling and running on full power just 7 percent of the time — the faster, the better, Greenbang says.

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