Danish EPA contracts Explicit to deploy new sniffer technology to monitor sulphur compliance at sea
The Danish EPA has contracted Danish startup Explicit to monitor sulphur compliance from ships. The monitoring will be conducted from the air by sampling exhaust plumes from vessels in waters around Denmark, the Company said in a press release.
The operation will deploy a unique new sniffer technology developed by Explicit for easy-mount on helicopters – and eventually also drones. The objective is to detect and deter violations of the 0.10% ECA restriction on sulphur in the bunker fuel.
Deploying a new, miniaturized measurement system, Danish entrepreneur Explicit has been contracted by the Danish EPA to perform airborne surveillance of the sulphur restrictions in Danish waters starting from July 2017. The new Mini Sniffer System is capable of measuring both sulphur and NOX emissions from vessels to determine their compliance, and is small enough to be carried on a drone without compromising quality or reliability. Initial however, the technology will be deployed on a manned helicopter, but with the prospect of phasing in drones as a supplement in the future.
"The manned helicopter is an extremely efficient tool for this purpose, both because of the speed with which it can cover large areas and many ships, but also because of its maneuverability in the plume. This is key. Our demonstrations have shown that the ability to navigate in the plume is absolutely critical to getting good airborne measurement results. You can achieve the same with rotary drones, but the manned helicopter currently has a much larger operational capacity,” says Jon Knudsen.
Smart flight and cutting-edge sniffer technology
Because plume navigation is so critical, Explicit has developed a patented method known as smart flight and special software tools for overcoming this challenge. The company has also developed a new “mini sniffer unit” which is part of what makes the new solution unique:
"Our approach is very different from what has been attempted so far. Firstly, we only use rotary platforms (helicopters and drones) because of their ability to maneuver in the plume. Combined with our smart flight software we can guide the pilot on the real-time sensor feedback to optimize the
2/2 position for sampling. This is important because plumes aren’t clearly visible. Not even on infrared or in case of high emitting ships, so you need navigational support. Thirdly, we have been able to miniaturize the sniffer unit itself to about 500 grams which makes it easy to carry. Last but not least, we have developed a set of advanced algorithms enabling us to calculate the sulphur content and NOX emissions to reliably determine compliance,” explains Jon Knudsen.
Reliance and low uncertainties
The performance and uncertainties of the new system have been validated independently by FORCE Technology, the Danish Government Reference Lab for Air Emissions.
"We are very focused on quality and data integrity. If you can’t rely on the data and system uncertainties, the measurements aren’t worth much. All our sniffer units are calibrated and certified pre-deployment by FORCE Technology according to a recognized ISO standard and we have special quality control procedures in place to preserve data integrity. We also prefer to fly with a multiple sniffer unit setup where possible, to lower the uncertainty and build more supportive evidence,“ says Jon Knudsen.
Drones in the pipeline
While Explicit expects to primarily use a manned helicopter to monitor Danish waters, the company hopes to also deploy drones in the future:
"Drones have the potential to play a role in emissions enforcement and we have already proven through our own trials that they can perform the task. The question is where to deploy them? Manned helicopters are still the most competitive and preferred option for long-range missions. But both multi-rotors and VTOLs may already be deployed efficiently in near-coastal areas, at harbour entries, rivers and deltas, as well as from inspection vessels,” says Jon Knudsen.
Today, Explicit is the only solution provider in the World that can deliver a compact mini sniffer system, fully validated, and the company is already feeling the global interest:
"Right now there is a lot of attention on the enforcement of MARPOL Annex VI. We are increasingly being approached by authorities and other international partners interested in our technology and what it can do. That is of course very exciting for us, and hopefully something we get to explore more in the future,” concludes Jon Knudsen.
The first steps towards international markets have already been taken. Last year, Explicit conducted a large-scale test campaign in Dutch waters together with the Dutch authorites (ILT). The campaign provided important insights into compliance at sea within the North European SECA.