Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Brian D Barkdoll


The purpose of this study is to provide a procedure to include emissions to the atmosphere resulting from the combustion of diesel fuel during dredging operations into the decision-making process of dredging equipment selection. The proposed procedure is demonstrated for typical dredging methods and data from the Illinois Waterway as performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District. The equipment included in this study is a 16-inch cutterhead pipeline dredge and a mechanical bucket dredge used during the 2005 dredging season on the Illinois Waterway.

Considerable effort has been put forth to identify and reduce environmental impacts from dredging operations. Though environmental impacts of dredging have been studied no efforts have been applied to the evaluation of air emissions from comparable types of dredging equipment, as in this study. By identifying the type of dredging equipment with the lowest air emissions, when cost, site conditions, and equipment availability are comparable, adverse environmental impacts can be minimized without compromising the dredging project. A total of 48 scenarios were developed by varying the dredged material quantity, transport distance, and production rates. This produced an “envelope” of results applicable to a broad range of site conditions.

Total diesel fuel consumed was calculated using standard cost estimating practices as defined in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Equipment Ownership and Operating Expense Schedule (USACE, 2005). The diesel fuel usage was estimated for all equipment used to mobilize and/or operate each dredging crew for every scenario.

A Limited Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was used to estimate the air emissions from two comparable dredging operations utilizing SimaPro LCA software. An Environmental Impact Single Score (EISS) was the SimaPro output selected for comparison with the cost per CY of dredging, potential production rates, and transport distances to identify possible decision points.

The total dredging time was estimated for each dredging crew and scenario. An average hourly cost for both dredging crews was calculated based on Rock Island District 2005 dredging season records (Graham 2007/08).

The results from this study confirm commonly used rules of thumb in the dredging industry by indicating that mechanical bucket dredges are better suited for long transport distances and have lower air emissions and cost per CY for smaller quantities of dredged material. In addition, the results show that a cutterhead pipeline dredge would be preferable for moderate and large volumes of dredged material when no additional booster pumps are required. Finally, the results indicate that production rates can be a significant factor when evaluating the air emissions from comparable dredging equipment.