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Hong Kong: Environmental Department funds sniffer drone project

31 Jan 2019

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is researching the use of sniffer drones to track vessel emissions within its waters, reports South China Morning Post.

The university is involved in a HK$1.1 million (US $140,193) project funded by the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department to detect the sulphur content of marine fuel used by vessels entering Hong Kong.

Dr Zhi Ning of the university’s environment and sustainability division said the new technology takes between one to two minutes to measure the sulphur content from a vessel’s smoke plume, compared to days using traditional sampling methods.

The Environmental Protection Department is planning to start trials of the new sniffer drones in February and may deploy them for operations by end of 2019; it is unclear how many drones will be put in use.

Success of the project will also depend on approval from the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department for use of the drones.

“The Civil Aviation Department has strict laws on the use of UAS and we are awaiting their approval,” Lau said.

Hong Kong’s new Air Pollution Control (Fuel for Vessels) Regulation (Cap 311AB) requires ocean-going vessels (OGVs) using heavy fuel oil to switch to compliant fuel before entering Hong Kong waters from January 1, 2019.

Sniffer drones are also used by the Norwegian Maritime Authority for checking sulphur content in emissions from ships. 

Related: Hong Kong: 0.5% sulphur directive for marine fuel to take effect
RelatedHong Kong mulls stricter maritime air emissions regulation
Related: Norwegian Maritime Authority to spend $1.7 million on drones

Published: 31 January, 2019

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