The recently completed Panama Canal expansion project has doubled the capacity of the Panama Canal by adding a new lane of traffic and increasing the width and depth of the lanes, allowing larger ships to pass. The new larger ships, called New Panamax, are about one and a half times the previous Panamax ships and can carry over twice as much cargo. The expansion will enable these much larger cargo ships from Asia to travel directly to the U.S. East Coast. Currently there are only 3 East Coast ports large enough to accommodate the fully loaded New Panamax ships, (Baltimore, Miami, and NYC). As the country’s 4th busiest container facility, and one of Georgia’s strongest economic engines, the Port of Savannah has embarked on a project to deepen its harbor, so they too can accommodate the larger ships.
The main ecological concern with deepening the harbor was insufficient dissolved oxygen levels in the water. Few constituents have such significant and wide-ranging effects as dissolved oxygen. The harbor has a minimum required level of dissolved oxygen of 5mg/L to ensure the well-being of the aquatic ecosystem, and the capacity to assimilate loads of oxygen-demanding substances introduced through natural or man-made processes upstream. Increasing the water depth in the harbor will create a setting where the natural aeration of the water through surface contact with the air is not enough to maintain the required level of dissolved oxygen.
The environmental impact study associated with the deepening of Savannah’s harbor has been one of the most extensive ever completed for a harbor-deepening project, taking 16 years, involving the Savannah district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Georgia Ports Authority, and Amec Foster Wheeler. The study was to determine the volume of oxygen required, and to evaluate alternative technologies for supplementing dissolved oxygen levels in the Savannah River estuary. Of the 25 alternatives considered, injection of superoxygenated water was seen as the most cost-effective approach, and the ECO Oxygen Technologies system was chosen as the most appropriate and most efficient technology for dissolving the gaseous oxygen into the harbor water.
The SuperOxygenation system by ECO Oxygen Technologies (“ECO2“) uses a sidestream pump, to push the harbor water through a cone-shaped oxygen transfer reactor (called the “Speece Cone”), where 92% pure oxygen gas is introduced, from an on-site oxygen generator by Pacific Consolidated Industries (PCI). The system will dissolve 40,000 lbs/day of oxygen, through 12 Speece Cones installed on the banks of the Savannah River estuary. Now under construction, with CDM Constructors serving as prime contractor, the project is slated for completion in 2017. Read this article published by Civil Engineering magazine July/August 2016 issue or visit us at www.eco2tech.com for more information.