Sector: Vessel shipping

A secure foundation for climate-friendly powertrains in large ships

Automation of a novel dual-fuel drive concept
The strictest safety requirements of various authorities
Coupling to process simulation system

The challenge

The shipping industry faces numerous challenges. It is one of the largest global polluters. Since the beginning of 2020, there are new limits on the sulphur content of fuels. A major contribution to the improvement of the global climate is the relinquishment of the use of heavy oils for fuel and the use of low-emission fuels such as liquid gas or hydrogen instead. This applies in particular to voyages near the coast or while ships are docked at ports. Companies that operate and consistently monitor such systems will enjoy a decisive competitive advantage in the future. Various process engineering systems have already been developed and are being used specifically for new ships. The great challenges of the future lie, on the one hand, in standardizing such systems and creating concepts to retrofit or convert ships already in service. On the other hand, ships equipped with such modern propulsion systems must also be supplied with fuel via bunker ships, or on land via LNG terminals. In both cases the gas is refrigerated and stored in vacuum-insulated tanks. Because of the increased hazard potential of the refueling process, more effort must be put into the design, automation and monitoring of the systems. Special measuring and safety installations are also required to ensure operation is free of disruptions and safe.

onoff GmbH was commissioned with planning and implementing the automation of a high-pressure dual-fuel system. This involved complying with a large number of national and international provisions and rules. The acquisition of precise knowledge of these regulations and the development of new technical rules in cooperation with the various classification societies were major challenges, and crucial to the successful implementation of the project. The inclusion of U.S. Coast Guard regulations and building regulations based on UL (Underwriters Laboratories) standards was paramount.

First virtual, then real

Even before the entire system was installed on the ship, a process simulation was carried out for special parts of the process engineering system. This made it possible to begin operating important functions virtually, thereby providing safety during the actual start-up and considerably reducing the time and costs compared with the usual requirements.

“By shifting dangerous processes from humans to technology, we avoid risks and other sources of error.”

PCS 7 (redundant and fail-safe) with intrinsically safe I/O

Design and cabinet construction according to UL

Verification calculations for SIL and EX protection

FAT with DNV and U.S. Coast Guard on simulated system

Gas trail and launch with the participation of the classes and teams

Convenient monitoring

In the future, the monitoring of such complex systems will become even more important. By consistently recording and storing data during operation, conclusions can be drawn about avoiding emissions and reducing costs. Data storage in cloud systems enables controlled access from land and is an important prerequisite for secure operation. This data also forms an elementary basis for predictive maintenance. The system itself recognizes in advance when warning limits are reached and special services are required. This is an important contribution to safe operation, remote diagnosis and avoidance of unnecessary deployment of service personnel worldwide.