Life in the old dog yet when it comes to Star Ferry engines

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 August, 2007, 12:00am

I wish to clarify matters raised in the report 'Star Ferry fleet faces an uncertain future' and Ming's cartoon (July 28).

Contrary to what was reported, test results using emulsified diesel were not disappointing but very promising. The overall emission reduction other than sulfur dioxide is superior to the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). With the addition of water, the emulsified fuel has helped to lower the emission of nitrogen oxide, which could not be effectively achieved with the use of ULSD.

The only outstanding technical issue is on the lubricating effect of the fuel, and there will be further tests within the next few weeks. Although low sulfur content in ULSD will reduce its lubricating efficiency, we are prepared to carry out further tests on the use of ULSD to gauge its actual impact on the engine. Therefore, it is too early to say which green fuel will be suitable for the Star Ferry.

The so-called 'old' engine is in one sense environmentally friendly because of its low fuel consumption.

These 'old' engines need only one-third of the fuel for the same power output as the up-to-date generation of diesel engines. When taking fuel consumption into account, it is obvious it will generate fewer before after-treatment emissions with less fuel being consumed. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with the age of these durable engines as they are well maintained.

Other than the front-end treatment approach by testing various green fuels, we have also started to explore the back-end treatment approach by having what is called a 'wet scrubber' on trial.

This technology has been widely applied in power plants to remove sulfur dioxide, but no application has been reported so far in the local maritime trade. Therefore, we want to jointly develop this retro-fit device for the Star Ferry fleet with a local university and with the assistance of a top-notch scientist from Canada.

The Star Ferry is committed to continuing with these studies to find the best way to go forward and to become one of the sustainable public transport operators in Hong Kong.

Johnny T. H. Leung, general manager, Star Ferry