US EPA seeking to award up to $1M for project to mitigate black carbon from diesel sources in Russian Arctic
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting proposals for a project to provide assistance in developing and implementing assessment and mitigation activities for diesel sources of black carbon in the Russian Arctic. EPA anticipates awarding one Cooperative Agreement from this announcement, subject to availability of funds and the quality of proposals received. The award amount is $1,000,000 for the four-year period of performance.
The main objectives of the solicited project are four-fold:
To assess primary sources of black carbon in the Russian Arctic and/or Nordic Countries;
To develop a baseline emission inventory for black carbon from diesel sources;
To implement targeted, on-the-ground demonstration projects concerning on-road and off-road diesel engines, stationary diesel generators, marine vessels and cargo handling equipment; and
To establish policy recommendations and financing options for reducing black carbon/diesel sources across the Arctic region.
|Benefits of reducing soot in the Arctic|
|In a presentation at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Mark Z. Jacobson, Ph.D. of Stanford University reported that reducing soot emissions from diesel engines and other sources could slow melting of sea ice in the Arctic faster and more economically than any other quick fix.|
|Jacobson’s calculations indicate that controlling soot could reduce warming above parts of the Arctic Circle by almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit within 15 years. That would virtually erase all of the warming that has occurred in the Arctic during the last 100 years.|
|“No other measure could have such an immediate effect,” said Jacobson. “Soot emissions are second only to carbon dioxide in promoting global warming, but its effects have been underestimated in previous climate models. Consequently, soot’s effect on climate change has not been adequately addressed in national and international global warming legislation. Soot emissions account for about 17 percent of global warming, more than greenhouse gases like methane. Soot’s contribution, however, could be reduced by 90% years with aggressive national and international policies.”|
|Decreasing soot could have a rapid effect, Jacobson said. Unlike carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for years, soot disappears within a few weeks, so that there is no long-term reservoir with a continuing warming effect. And the technology for controlling black carbon, unlike that for controlling CO2, already is available at relatively modest cost.|
|Jacobson, who developed the first detailed climate model to include the global effects of soot, reported on use of the model to gain new insights into the effects of soot particles trapped inside and between the water droplets that make up clouds. Previous research on black carbon and climate overlooked that topic. Jacobson said the information is important because black carbon within clouds makes the clouds “burn off” and disappear over heavily polluted urban and other areas. Climate models that ignore this “cloud absorption” phenomenon underestimate the effects of black carbon on climate.|
In December 2009, within the framework of the Copenhagen Summit, the Obama Administration said it would commit $5 million towards international cooperation to quantify emissions and impacts of black carbon from fossil fuel and biomass burning and to reduce black carbon emissions and the associated warming effects in and around the Arctic.
This project presents a strategic approach to beginning to mitigate the effects of black carbon in the Arctic resulting from diesel sources. Though US funding will be used to support projects in Russia, lessons learned from demonstration projects will be applicable in other Arctic nations, the EPA said. Emissions sources will be considered across the Arctic region and mitigation efforts will be shared across nations.
Under the Black Carbon Diesel Initiative, EPA will engage with partners from government agencies; US Arctic and Russian NGOs; Russian and Arctic stakeholders; indigenous communities and observer groups to assess diesel sources of black carbon in the Arctic and develop demonstration projects, policy recommendations and financing options.
EPA will report these findings to the Arctic Council through the Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) and to the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission through the Environment Working Group (EWG).
EPA is seeking proposals that provide expert technical assistance, equipment, project management and logistics, coordination of key stakeholders, diesel assessments, emission inventories, and the development of workshops and training designed for Russia and the Russian Arctic.
The awarding instrument is to be a cooperative agreement. There is no cost share or matching requirement for these funds. Selection of the recipient will be based on the evaluation of the eligible proposals; once selected, the applicant will receive instructions to submit a full application package. EPA reserves the right to reject all applicants and make no award from this competition.
Global relevance of diesel emissions in the Arctic. The main sources of black carbon in the Arctic, according to a Draft White Paper by the Arctic Council Short-Lived Climate Forcer Task Force, are road transport (34%) and off-road transport (20%), followed by open burning (23%) and then residential sources. Although black carbon emissions inventories are relatively uncertain and pollution from sources outside the Arctic does have impacts within the Arctic, EPA notes, diesel emissions represent the largest inventory component by far in the Arctic itself. Off-road sources include stationary diesel generators, locomotives, ships, construction vehicles, and farming equipment, all using diesel fuel. Emissions of black carbon also involve the co-emission of other pollutants, which can have additional warming or cooling effects. Of all sources of black carbon emissions, diesel emissions are the richest in warming black carbon pollutants.
Substantial black carbon reductions are possible across the diesel sector. In the United States, changes in fuel composition and advances in engine design have reduced black carbon emissions from heavy duty diesel engines by 99%. The technologies are readily available and cost-effective for many engines. Black carbon, particularly from transportation sources, is heavily concentrated in urban areas, which means that reducing these emissions will lead to improved urban air quality and corresponding improvements to public health.
Diesel emissions technology and low-sulfur fuel. Reducing black carbon from diesel sources often requires a change to low-sulfur diesel fuel. In many countries, including Russia, the sulfur content in diesel fuel is 500 ppm or greater. In many parts of the developing world, sulfur in diesel can reach levels of 10,000 ppm. Bunker fuel, often used for fueling large ocean-going ships, can have sulfur levels higher than 20,000 ppm.
On its own, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) only marginally reduces black carbon, EPA notes. The cleaner fuel must be used in tandem with improved engine technologies and exhaust treatment technologies to achieve the maximum benefit.