Flying over giant cargo ships off the Belgian coast, a small twin-propeller plane picks up traces of the ship’s emissions.
The coastguard plane checks and analyzes sulfur and nitrogen levels with an air pollution sensor called a “sniffer” developed by researchers at a Swedish university.
“On the plane, we installed a sensor called a sniffer. With this sniffer we can monitor the emissions from ships. In fact, we monitor two regulations on ship emissions: one for SOx, sulfur, and one for NOx, nitrogen, “said Ward Von Roy, 35, aerial surveillance operator at the Institute. Royal of Natural Sciences of Belgium.
“It’s very efficient because we can monitor up to ten to fifteen ships an hour. To compare, a harbor inspector can only do one ship a day. So we can do a lot more ships than any other system. . “
If the levels are too high, the ship is tested again at the port and could expect a fine of around three hundred thousand euros.
The age of the vessel is a factor in determining acceptable levels of nitrogen oxides.
According to experts, about 15% of all pollution by sulfur and nitrogen oxides in the world comes from ships.
The body of water patrolled by the Belgian coast guard between the English Channel and the North Sea is one of the busiest sea routes in Europe.