Smoke & Mirrors

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In today’s opaque industry hiding what’s really coming out of the stack is too easy, but the technology required to deliver the transparency needed for true smart regulation is already available, says Allan Skouboe

Some reading the feature article in the last issue of Futurenautics entitled ‘Regvolution!’ may have considered the vision of smart regulation laid out by futurist K D Adamson to be unachievable. In fact many of the critical elements needed to make such a smart regulatory environment a reality are already available and in place.

Players in the maritime industry are constantly facing political initiatives and tightening of regulations imposed by IMO and local regulators, especially around NOx and SO2 emissions. As consequence, methods providing proof of meeting requirements and documenting compliance, are becoming increasingly important. But as K D Adamson suggests the opportunity of smart regulation is much wider, and it is an area where we at Danfoss IXA are trying to take a lead.

On a technical level this starts with an innovative new sensor, the MES 1001 Marine Emission Sensor which enables measurement and documentation of emissions through data gathering. The sensor simplifies compliance control and documentation and can be used for system efficiency regulation purposes in some applications, but importantly, it prepares the ground for a future of real-time connectivity and data streaming—in both the maritime and other industries.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) is an increasing area of focus for engine manufacturers and ship opera-tors looking to control NOx emissions, and the MES 1001 sensor takes a novel approach to the problem. Rather than the traditional method where the volume of urea injected into the SCR is controlled as a function of the engine load, the new sensor is installed after the SCR and uses real-time measurements of the NOx levels as input to the urea dosing controller.

Not only does this control the dosing of urea more accurately, it delivers a better transient performance because the regulation is based on the exhaust out of the SCR. In addition the sensor is capable of measuring an ammonia slip and can issue a warning to prevent damage to equipment further down the stack.

We need to secure equal conditions for all carriers and establish sanctions against violators

This new approach opens up a range of opportunities. By enabling real-time overview of data on emissions ship operators for the first time have true transparency of the emissions levels of the ship’s engines, and can optimise their function at a system level. But very importantly it puts the building blocks in place of the kind of real-time, smart regulation outlined by K D Adamson.

With the global sulfur cap set to take effect in 2020 this kind of next-generation regulatory environment offers a completely new approach to overall fair monitoring and documentation of compliance of ships globally, and how we deter SO2 violators not complying with regulations. The new global sulfur rules of 2020 need comprehensive enforcement, especially in terms of global implementation securing equal conditions for all carriers and establishing sanctions against violators not complying with the sulfur cap.

At Danfoss IXA we consider this both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity for the industry. As a result we’re fully engaged in finding ways in which the novel technology we’ve developed in the MES 1001 could contribute to finding a solution for the problem and open the door to smart regulation.

Connecting the sensor to the ship performance data system allows emission measurement to be processed together with other valuable sensor information, delivering a more complete picture of the ship’s performance. With the costs of connectivity falling, the ability to access this information online and evaluate how the engine is performing compared with the ideal Tier II or Tier III curves becomes a real option.

Perhaps most pertinent to the development of smart regulation though is the ability of the sensor to enable Continuous Emission Monitoring (CEMS) as it delivers accurate real-time measurements of NOx and SO2. This enables ships to prove compliance not only to Port State Control but to that wider ecosystem of customers, partners and other stakeholders that have an interest in the vessel. The data is also stored in the sensor for future reference and in cases where the ship’s GPS is connected to the sensor, all measurement data is tagged with information about the position.

All data gathered from the sensor will be fully owned by the operator using the sensor, and the purposes for which the data is used is ultimately decided by the individual user. However, with a global CEMS enforcement in place it would be simple for emissions data to be shared with the local authorities in question, perhaps through AIS, making current Port State Control activities and old-school technology such as drone flyover to investigate compliance unnecessary, which would have the added benefit of saving considerable amounts of tax-payers money.

There are many elements which will need to come together to enable K D Adamson’s vision of global smart regulation, which is based on overview and transparency of ship emissions globally. By collaborating with other stakeholders to work out where our technology can play its part we hope to accelerate the path to smart regulation and make a contribution to a better, fairer, more sustainable shipping industry in future.

 

Images courtesy © Getty Images

This article appeared in the Q3 2017 issue of Futurenautics.

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