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Bunker fuel savings of USD 90 million made possible due to machine learning insights

21 Jul 2020

Researchers from the University of Southampton and Shell Shipping and Maritime on Thursday (16 July) said they have developed a digital dashboard that helps captains respond to changing sea conditions.

The Just Add Water, or JAWS, app interprets depths and angles of a ship known as the draught and trim to optimise the amount of fuel and power needed in any given situation, said the team.

A new machine learning model was introduced through the partners’ Centre for Maritime Futures, which is spearheading digital and technological advances for safer, cleaner and more efficient shipping.

Engineers trialled the system on a fleet of over a dozen 300m-long liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers for 12 months, cumulatively recording the saving of 250,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to a fuel saving of USD90 million, it explained.

The new modelling technique was developed by postgraduate research student Amy Parkes during her PhD in the Maritime Engineering research group, where her time has been divided between Southampton and Shell.

“LNG carriers have a large surface area so wind, waves and current can make a huge difference to the amount of power required in a journey,” said Parkes. 

“These ships can be high or low in the water, at different angles in the water and have different levels of fouling, which impacts the amount of energy used for them to move around.

“Shell collects an enormous amount of data from these vessels and this app is designed to monitor and adapt to these variables to save power without changing the ship’s overall speed.”

Early iterations of the app calculated heat maps using an averaging system before Parkes automated and advanced the process using modelling techniques optimised during her PhD research.

“Through machine learning, it is now possible to analyse data from previous deployments and predict upcoming ones based on past settings, creating a process that is much more user friendly,” added Parkes.

Parkes presented findings from app research at the AI UK conference run by The Alan Turing Institute in June. Her PhD project is due to be completed in November.

The Centre for Maritime Futures was officially launched last autumn following a gift of £1.5m from Shell Shipping & Maritime, the largest corporate gift in the University’s history. 

The centre is building a sustainable programme of research in four key themes while developing the best engineers and technologists for the maritime industry, through MSc and PhD projects alongside continued professional development.


Photo credit:
Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Published: 21 July, 2020

 

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