Ports seize opportunities presented by drones

From inspection of equipment to development in emergencies, drones have become part of the scene at ports worldwide. A new capability, that of sniffing out illegal emissions, is propelling drones to the forefront of environment protection in ports and beyond.

In particular, this new feature available to drones is expected to be of value in enforcing the new sulphur limits that kick in from January 2020.

The Netherlands is developing a ‘super drone’ that will see drones patrol port areas with the capacity to travel more than 10 miles from shore to the new rules. In the Port of Rotterdam, the drones will complement the work already being done by existing ‘e-nose’ (electronic nose) installation, which capture data on emission in the port.

Hong Kong is also testing technology to sniff out air pollution. In a report by Bloomberg, Professor Zhi Ning from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as saying: ‘’It takes only two to three minutes for us to finish one scanning of the plume of one ship.. We hope to have this joint effort between Hong Kong and Shenzhen for the Greater Bay area.’’ Evidence from the drones will be used in court to prosecute offenders.

Last summer, the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) conducted sulphur testing using a drone. Describing the testing as ‘’a great success,’’ the NMA has announced plans to purchase three new sulphur sensors as part of cooperation with the Coast Guard and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

The equipment will be used to detect illegal emissions, improve oil pollution control and help with rescue work. Norse Asset Solution has been awarded a contract in this regard, with a value close to NOK 14 million. According to the NMA, ‘’It is a framework contract giving the government agencies as much as five drones and specialized equipment. The new drones will among other things, be used to measure sulphur emission in the exhaust from ships.

Thomas Angell Bergh, Head of Section for Inspection, Audit and Emergency Preparedness, commented: ‘’Sulphur emission control of exhaust will now be expanded to a larger geographical area than today, and the control will become more effective.’’

The Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) has also developed a large sulphur-sniffing drone in its coastal water. In April, a drone supplied by the European Maritime Safety Agency conducted its first ‘sulphur emission’, entering ships’ exhaust gas plume register the amount of sulphur in the fuel. The data sourced in this manner is immediately available to Danish authorities, who can follow up if a ship does not comply with the requirements. The drone will operate in an area north of The Great Belt, which is used by large tanker on their routes to and from the Baltic Sea.

The DMA said that ‘’the project will contribute to a more efficient enforcement of the sulphur rules, thereby ensuring fair competition for shipping companies and less pollution from ships.’’ The drones will support the work that the DMA already does with ship inspection in Danish ports.        

Culled from Greenport

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