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ABS and Vanderbilt shine a light on decarbonization of waterways

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Landmark report considers decarbonization strategies for inland waterways industry

The current profile of GHG emissions from the inland navigation sector is low compared to other modes of freight. The American Waterways Operators cites statistics which show that a dry cargo barge can carry the same amount of goods as 16 railcars or 70 trucks and that barge transport produces 30% less greenhouse gas emissions than rail and more than 1000% less than trucks.

Still, that doesn’t mean decarbonization is an issue the industry can afford to ignore, and ABS and Vanderbilt University just released a landmark report analyzing decarbonization strategies for U.S. waterways.

Called “Decarbonizing the Inland Waterways Sector in the United States,” the report assesses the potential of future propulsion technologies and possible alternative fuels to reduce carbon emissions. The report also demonstrates the feasibility of short-term electrification of small vessels operating on the inland river system with a case study and renderings of a ballasted and balanced vessel modernized with electric propulsion.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of global and regional decarbonization efforts in the United States. a safer and more sustainable fleet, ”said Christopher Wiernicki, CEO of ABS.

“While the GHG profile of inland waterways is low compared to other maritime transport sectors, the need to decarbonize operations is increasingly pressing. The sector faces unique challenges and limitations and will require a tailored emissions approach, which is analyzed in this study with Vanderbilt University. While electrification clearly offers small riverboats quick CO2 gains, the report also explores the wider decarbonisation landscape that will need to be traveled to put this sector on a sustainable basis, ”said Georgios Plevrakis, Director of ABS Global Sustainability.

At Vanderbilt, the work was a collaboration between the Vanderbilt Center for Transportation and Operational Resiliency and the Vanderbilt Climate Change Initiative (VCCI).

“We are excited about some of the possibilities and avenues identified in this report. For example, we hope that a pilot project based on the electrification of boats in the river fleet can be carried out in the short term, which would inform the potential for scalability and cost, as well as other research needs ”, said Leah Dundon, director of VCCI. “These types of big challenges cannot be tackled alone. They require the input and knowledge of a wide range of skills and expertise, which is why Vanderbilt was extremely pleased to work with ABS on this project. “

Download a copy of the report here and register here to join ABS and Vanderbilt University for a webinar on September 23 covering the topics of this report.

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