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NOAA 'GREEN SHIPS' WIN WHITE HOUSE AWARD

NOAA image of NOAA Great Lakes Research vessels Laurentian, Shenahon, and Huron Explorer.June 12, 2007 — NOAA’s three Great Lakes research vessels have again been honored for the conversion from petroleum-based fuels and lubricants to bio-based products. The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive announced that the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., has won a White House Closing-the-Circle Award in the green purchasing category. In 2006, the initiative won an award from the U.S. Department of Energy. (Click NOAA image for larger view of NOAA Great Lakes Research vessels Laurentian, Shenahon, and Huron Explorer. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The conversion was a result of a call for “greening” of Government agencies through waste reduction, recycling and the use of environmentally friendly and sustainable products including bio-products. GLERL’s approach to this federal program was to focus on the use of bio-products with a goal of demonstrating the environmental and operational benefits.

“Our Great Lakes laboratory is advancing our larger mission as stewards of the marine environment, and NOAA is pleased that their efforts have again been recognized,” said Richard W. Spinrad, NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research. “This effort combines our pre-eminent research in the Great Lakes with a benefit to society by operating these vessels in an environmentally friendly manner.”

The award, presented today in Washington, D.C., recognizes GLERL's conversion of a fleet of research vessels from petroleum-based to bio-based fuel and lubricants. This initiative reduced costs and has a positive impact on the ships’ crews and researchers. The fleet includes the Shenahon, the Laurentian, and the Huron Explorer.

GLERL operates research vessels throughout the Great Lakes region as scientific platforms for ecosystems research and other NOAA interests in the area. The laboratory’s Ship Operations Group has focused their efforts on innovative ways to engineer, operate and maintain these boats to not only support scientific missions, but to advance NOAA’s larger mission as a steward of the marine environment.

In 1998, Executive Order 13101 called for government agencies to reduce waste, recycle and the use environmentally friendly and sustainable products including bio-products. GLERL’s approach to this federal program was to focus on the ship based use of bio-products with a goal of demonstrating the environmental and operational benefits.

“Lessons learned through systems engineering and material acquisition challenges were to provide technical assistance in advancing these products to other NOAA facilities and public marine operators,” said Stephen B. Brandt, GLERL director. “While all the products used are commercially available, the project is unique and groundbreaking in a number of areas.”

Some of the innovations that earned the award for the GLERL ships are:

  • The GLERL project included conversion of vessels 30 to 50 years old, instead of engineering bio-products into new vessel designs.
  • Soy biodiesel, a true alternative energy, became the primary component for main engine propulsion at 100 percent, rather than a 20 percent blend with petroleum diesel that has been use for a number of years.
  • Building on biodiesel success, all ship mechanical systems were converted to bio-products resulting in the first U.S. research vessel to operate exclusively with bio-based products. This was accomplished through further conversion to rapeseed hydraulic oils and canola motor oils. It is this complete package that carries the strongest message supporting NOAA environmental stewardship, the feasibility of the bio-products, and positive public image.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America’s scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

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NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Media Contact:
Jana Goldman, NOAA Research, (301) 734-1123