R/V Huron Explorer Goes Green
NOAA Research Vessel is First to Operate Petroleum Free
Congratulations to the crew of the 41-foot NOAA R/V Huron Explorer, and to everyone responsible for creating the first U.S. research ship to operate free of petroleum products. This is a landmark effort and yet another excellent example of how NOAA is on the cutting edge of science, service and stewardship. The R/V Huron Explorer works in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve and is part of the fleet managed by NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Just in time for Earth Day 2006, the NOAA research vessel was honored with a "You Have the Power" award from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Powered by soy biodiesel combined with bio-hydraulic and bio-motor oils, the environmentally-friendly vessel is well suited to working in the eco-systems it is helping to research. In August 2005, the R/V Huron Explorer completed its transformation from petroleum products to biofuels and lubricants by incorporating rapeseed-based hydraulic oil for its deck crane, winches, transmission, and steering gear, and 100 percent soy biodiesel for engine fuel and canola-based motor oil. Dennis Donahue, head of GLERL’s Ship Operations Group, reported that dramatic reductions in emissions and improvements in wet exhaust odor and pollution resulted. In case of a leak or spill, the biodegradable vegetable oils also offer added protection to our environment. Other NOAA boat operations are implementing similar bio-product conversions.
In conducting research and helping to catalog shipwrecks that lay beneath the waters of Lake Huron in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, the R/V Huron Explorer will help to collect data that can be integrated into the emerging Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS), an effort now supported by 62 countries and 43 international organizations. Over the next decade, this system will make 21st-century technology as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects, and I am pleased that the "soybean-powered" HURON EXPLORER will be an important contributor to this system.
The R/V Huron Explorer was also honored with a NOAA News Release.