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Stage win: pressure leads to action – decarbonization with SICK

Apr 2, 2020

The maritime energy revolution is officially in swing and has now reached an ambitious level. The sensors from SICK measure the CO2 emissions from combustion processes and are approved for emissions reporting at the EU and international level. There will still be quite a lot more changes onboard in future.

Sensors from SICK measure the CO2 emissions from combustion processes
Sensors from SICK measure the CO2 emissions from combustion processes

 

In April 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to reach zero CO2 emissions before the end of this century. Whether the decarbonization project is visionary, ambitious or realistic remains to be seen. At least the figures are on the table. 50% of the total CO2 emissions relative to 2008 need to be eliminated by 2050. The milestones have been defined. The average carbon intensity, that is the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per tonne and mile, needs to be cut by 40% before 2030. And the plan is to emit 70% less CO2 by 2050. The industry even aims to exceed these targets. From 2030, large ships will use only climate-neutral fuels. Around one hundred companies from the maritime, energy, infrastructure and finance industries have joined together to form a “Getting to Zero” coalition for this purpose.

 

From 2030, large ships will use only climate-neutral fuels
From 2030, large ships will use only climate-neutral fuels

 

Springboard for new possibilities

Improvements in drive technology and the change to alternative fuels is the necessary consequence of this. The global economy cannot do without shipping – around 90% of all goods are transported by ship. Ships are also the most efficient means of transportation and, per tonne of goods transported, still the most environmentally friendly of all transportation options.
 
The global fleet continues to use predominantly heavy oil or distillates. Natural gas, being a low-emission fuel, has become more popular in recent years. The industry is in agreement that LNG will be the fuel of choice for ocean-going vessels in the medium term. The emission of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and black carbon can be considerably reduced in this way. Using LNG will not be sufficient, however, to reach the climate target. 
 
Research projects are looking at synthetic fuels from captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen, such as ethanol and methanol, with synthetic diesel or synthetic LNG. The new fuels for shipping are likely to be produced in a climate-neutral manner using regenerative energy and with a zero or almost zero CO2 footprint. With all these approaches, it is important to foster the development of new energy sources and, in the end, to make them available more quickly. Wind as an energy source is also an interesting approach. Furthermore, we need to get more out of the energy. The energy revolution can only be successful if we achieve greater energy efficiency.

 

90% of all goods are transported by ship
90% of all goods are transported by ship

 

Course for energy efficiency

Strategically speaking, energy efficiency is not only important for climate reasons. Since energy prices are increasing, efficiency also brings economic advantages. And the equipment and machinery on ships require a lot of energy. Besides the ship’s propulsion system, there are many other systems onboard that require huge amounts of energy, for example the ballast water treatment system which cleans the water before it is returned to the sea. Scrubbers, which remove the sulfur oxides from exhaust gases are increasingly being used as well. The IMO also decided to introduce more stringent limit values for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. The sulfur content of fuels used in international waters and outside emission control areas (ECA) must, from January 1, 2020, be reduced from the current 3.5% to just 0.5%.

 

The sulfur content of fuels outside emission control areas (ECA) must, from January 1, 2020, be reduced to just 0.5%
The sulfur content of fuels outside emission control areas (ECA) must, from January 1, 2020, be reduced to just 0.5%

 

Until the new fuels begin to make an impact, transitional solutions are required to increase the energy efficiency. While the command “Full power ahead” will most likely have to give way to lower traveling speeds, it can still provide the motivation for future measures, however. Current mature solutions can lower the emissions per ship by around 20–30%, depending on the type of ship, without having to travel more slowly. A streamlined hull reduces the ship’s drag. Energy efficiency can therefore also impact on ship design, and is therefore prescribed through mandatory rules in the EEDI. Climate protection and energy efficiency will continue to drive technological advances for quite some time. 

 
 

Signs of a new era 

A ship can have a service life of up to 30 years or more. That’s a long time. Especially when it comes to new propulsion systems and their corresponding fuels, shipping companies and shipbuilders need to look well out towards the horizon and install future-ready technology at the outset when building ships. 
 
SICK recognized these trends early on and has been impressing its customers for decades with its tailored solutions for emission measurement – both for the manufacturing and also the shipping industry. 

 

Tailored solutions for emission measurement
Monitoring gas emissions on ships | Recording mass emissions on ships | Measurement of natural gas consumption
Tailored solutions for emission measurement
Monitoring gas emissions on ships | Recording mass emissions on ships | Measurement of natural gas consumption

 

The MARSIC ship emission measuring device measures the CO2 emissions from combustion processes and ship engines and is approved for emissions reporting according to EU regulations (MRV) and international regulations (IMO DCS). The waste gas flow rate is also recorded for reporting purposes. The FLOWSIC100 flowmeter performs its measurements with impressive reliability, regardless of the fuel, the operation of the engines and boiler, or the exhaust gas treatment system used onboard. The FLOWSIC600-XT gas flow meter measures the gas consumption of LNG-powered engines for reporting to authorities. Methane, a gas that is harmful to climate is present as a result of incomplete combustion in LNG engines, is also included in the list of gas components measured by MARSIC. The onboard sensors from SICK send the measured values into the cloud and provide a clear picture of the energy efficiency. 

 

Recording and analysis of ship emissions data and cloud solutions
Recording and analysis of ship emissions data and cloud solutions
Recording and analysis of ship emissions data and cloud solutions
Recording and analysis of ship emissions data and cloud solutions

 

The need to cut CO2 emissions is driving innovations, and this will be the case for some time. Harnessing the power of wind for ship propulsion is increasingly becoming an area of focus. The concept is, after all, not a new one as sailing ships have existed since before written history. From the 9th century onwards, ocean-going ships have sailed long distances over the sea. Now automation is playing an increasingly important role. 

 
SICK is already equipping large sailing yachts today. The setting of the sails and monitoring of the tension of the sails has been fully automated. Integrated sensors in winches and hydraulic cylinders give direct feedback about the sail tension and alignment. Sensors detect the inclination of the ship to optimally align the stabilizers. An optimal position of the ship in the water to minimize drag also results in a reduced fuel consumption.

 

Measuring ship inclination and monitoring the tension of the sails, including on sailing ships of the future
Measuring ship inclination and monitoring the tension of the sails, including on sailing ships of the future
Measuring ship inclination and monitoring the tension of the sails, including on sailing ships of the future
Measuring ship inclination and monitoring the tension of the sails, including on sailing ships of the future

 

The sensors from SICK, with their broad range of applications, are fostering the development of optimized and efficient ship propulsion systems. Today and tomorrow.

SICK Sensor Blog
SICK Sensor Blog
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