Photo: Colourbox

Black boxes and drones to remove smoke sulphur

Friday 30 Jun 17


Hanne Thomasen
Project developer, research coordinator
DTU Space
+45 45 25 96 71


Mikkel Sørensen
Head of DTU Skylab
Office for Innovation and Sector Services
+45 20 78 73 17
Six teams of DTU students have presented ambitious and innovative ideas for reducing the sulphur content in the smoke from large ship chimneys.

The UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted stricter requirements for ships’ sulphur emissions in order to ensure cleaner air and reduce global pollution. This is the background for the competition ‘SOx Challenge’ which ended in May at DTU Skylab with the assessment of students’ suggestions on how to reduce sulphur emissions and how to demonstrate sulphur regulation breaches.

The first prize of DKK 25,000 went to a solution which proposes that merchant ships equipped with a simple system can measure emissions from other passing ships during the voyage. These measurements are then automatically sent to the relevant authorities at the measured ship’s next port of call. Here, the second phase of the solution comes into play—namely that the sulphur deposited in the soot adhering to the ship’s funnel can be used as additional evidence of any infringement. The team behind the idea was singled out for having devised a coherent solution with several innovative elements.

“Working in interdisciplinary teams, the students were able to overcome limitations and generate some extremely creative solutions,” says DTU Skylab manager, Mikkel Sørensen.

Other ideas included a sealed black box mounted on the vessels for collecting emission data, and an idea to expand the range of surveillance drones so they can provide a viable solution on the open seas.

“In a very short time, we have acquired six brand new, innovative perspectives on a problem shared by almost all of the world’s coastal and flag states—namely the need for effective and consistent enforcement to ensure equal competition,” says head of division Henriette Bytoft Flügge from the Danish Maritime Authority’s Division for Maritime Regulation and Law.

In connection with project development, teams were supported by mentors from the various organizations in the partnership: Boeing Company, Mærsk, DTU, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, and the Danish Maritime Authority. The competition and prizes were sponsored by The Danish Maritime Fund.

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19 FEBRUARY 2019