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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 29 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 29 Oct 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Dramatic increase of reactive VOC emission from ships at berth after implementing the fuel switch policy in the Pearl River Delta Emission Control Area

Zhenfeng Wu1,3, Yanli Zhang1,2, Junjie He4, Hongzhan Chen4, Xueliang Huang1,5, Yujun Wang4, Xu Yu1,3, Weiqiang Yang1,3, Runqi Zhang1,3, Ming Zhu1,3, Sheng Li1,3, Hua Fang1,3, Zhou Zhang6, and Xinming Wang1,2,3 Zhenfeng Wu et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry and Guangdong Key Laboratory of Environmental Protection and Resources Utilization, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China
  • 2Center for Excellence in Regional Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 4Guangzhou Environmental Monitoring Center, Guangzhou 510640, China
  • 5Yunfu Total Pollutant Discharge Control Center, Yunfu 527300, China
  • 6Changsha Center for Mineral Resources Exploration, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changsha 410013, China

Abstract. Limiting the fuel sulfur content (FSC) is a widely adopted approach to reduce ship emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matters (PM) particularly in emission control areas (ECA), but its impact on the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is still not well understood. In this study, emissions from ships at berth in Guangzhou, south China, were characterized before and after implementing the fuel switch policy with a FSC limit of 0.5 % in the Pearl River Delta ECA in south China. After implementing the fuel switch policy, the emission factors (EFs) of SO2 and PM2.5 for coastal vessels dropped by 78 % and 56 % on average, respectively; the EFs of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs), however, reached 1807 ± 1746 mg/kg, about 15 times that of 118 ± 56.1 mg/kg before implementing the new policy. This dramatic increase in the emission of NMHCs might be largely due to the replacement of high-sulfur residual fuel oil with low-sulfur diesel or heavy oils, which are typically more rich in short-chain hydrocarbons. Moreover, reactive alkenes overtook alkanes to become the dominant group among NMHCs and low carbon number NMHCs, such as ethylene, propene and isobutane, became the dominant species after the new policy. As a result of the largely elevated EFs of reactive alkenes and aromatics after the new policy, for per kilogram of fuel burned, emitted NMHCs had nearly 29 times larger ozone formation potentials (OFPs) and about 2 times higher secondary organic aerosol formation potentials (SOAFPs). Unlike coastal vessels, river vessels in the region used diesel fuels all along and were not affected by the fuel switch policy, but their EFs of NMHCs were even 90 % larger than that of coastal vessels after implementing the new policy, with about 120 % larger fuel-based OFPs and 70–140 % larger SOAFPs. The results from this study suggest that while the fuel switch policy could effectively reduce SO2 and PM emissions and thus help combat PM2.5 pollution, it would also lead to greater emissions of reactive VOCs, that may threatens ozone pollution control in the harbor cities. This change for coastal or ocean-going vessels, along with the large amounts of reactive VOCs from river vessels, raises regulatory concerns for ship emissions of reactive VOCs.

Zhenfeng Wu et al.
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Short summary
As ship emissions impact air quality in coastal areas, ships are required to switch their fuel from high-sulfur residual fuel oil to low-sulfur diesel/heavy oil in emission control areas (ECA). Our study reveals that while this policy did result in a large drop in ship emissions of particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), however, became over 10 times larger, and therefore would risk ozone pollution control in harbor cities.
As ship emissions impact air quality in coastal areas, ships are required to switch their fuel...