Study uses drones and helicopters to measure in-service methane slip


Measurements will be taken from helicopters and drones as well as in-pile monitoring (Explixit ApS)

Posted on March 23, 2022 at 7:08 p.m. by

The Maritime Executive







Methane leakage remains one of the most debated elements in the use of liquefied natural gas as an alternative fuel in both the marine industry and other sectors. In a year-long study, the first of its kind, a team of researchers plans to measure the amount of methane escaping into the atmosphere both unburned in ship exhaust as well as in fuel tanks. storage and fuel along the supply chain. Organizers of the project, known as FUMES, believe the data provided will be useful to a variety of policy makers, including the International Maritime Organization and the European Union, as they consider ways to establish and apply limits on methane emissions from LNG fueled engines. ships.


The FUgitive Methane Emissions from Ships (FUMES) project is led by the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT) in collaboration with the Danish company Explicit ApS and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). Action will be taken in 2022 and the team will publish a peer-reviewed, publicly available white paper in 2023.


The project aims to become the first in-depth study of methane leaks. The organizers note that despite concerns about methane emissions and the possibility of negating the GHG reduction benefits of using LNG over conventional fuels, the current literature on methane emissions consists only of a small number of studies based on limited measurements taken on board ships or in a laboratory.


“Obtaining this real-world data will help us better understand the conditions under which methane emissions from LNG-fueled ships are high or low, and that is important when considering ways to reduce environmental impacts. shipping,” said Bryan Comer, Ph.D., marine program manager at ICCT.


FUMES will assess ship engine emissions and fugitive emissions from fuel tanks and cargo tanks. They will employ a variety of methods to take the measurements, including the use of continuous in-stack emissions monitoring, drones and helicopters to examine and quantify the ships’ methane emissions under various real-world operating conditions at a scale never reached before.


“In addition to onboard measurements, the project will deploy both drones and helicopters to sample exhaust plumes from many other ships to provide broader insights into the factors that affect methane emissions. We will also use new drone-based technologies to quantify total fugitive methane emissions from ships, which has never been done before,” said Bettina Knudsen, COO/CMO of Explicit ApS.


As part of the study, they will qualify measures related to engine technology with a focus on emissions from low-pressure dual-fuel engines and high-pressure dual-fuel engines. FUMES results should include estimated emission factors for methane (CH4) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by engine type for the ships measured.


Trade groups and engine manufacturers say there have been significant advancements in the design and operation of LNG-fueled engines as well as the processes to support operations. They argue that newer generations of engines have largely eliminated methane emissions from operating ships, while other organisations, including the World Bank, have dismissed the potential of LNG due to the damage caused by methane emissions.


“Improvements in engine design over the past few years may not be fully accounted for in older studies, and so this is another gap in the literature that this project will help fill,” Robin said. Vermeulen, engine and emissions measurement specialist at TNO.


Organizers also cited the importance of developing this comprehensive analysis due to the growing adoption of LNG as the shipping industry seeks to start reducing its carbon emissions and comply with restrictions adopted by a wide range of regulators. The study’s organizers estimated that the global use of LNG as a marine fuel increased by almost 30% between 2012 and 2018. They note that LNG is becoming particularly popular as a fuel for new cargo ships and cruise ships.