Research carried out by Sweden’s Linnaeus University lecturer Fredrik Ahlgren has revealed that the use of virtual fuel meters could help reduce emissions and fuel consumption from the shipping industry.

Virtual fuel meters can be created using data from engine waste heat recovery solutions, as well as modern technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Ships currently accumulate large volumes of data including engine speed, temperatures and pressure during operations.

This data can be combined to use machine learning to build virtual fuel meters, found Ahlgren during his research.

“Emissions from the shipping sector make up roughly 11% of the total carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector.”

The information can provide input on the consumption of fuel in real-time without the presence of physical fuel meters.

Ahlgren said: “The virtual fuel meters can help crews bring their ships forward in a more energy-efficient way, thereby also reducing emissions of hazardous substances like greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

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“Today, emissions from the shipping sector make up roughly 11% of the total carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector. If we are to succeed in our work to reduce global climate change and reduce the effects of air pollution on human health, we must work with many methods at the same time.”

As part of his research, Ahlgren evaluated the functioning of an energy system onboard a cruise ship.

The evaluation showed how waste heat in cooling water and exhaust fumes can be efficiently used in current and new equipment onboard ships.

Ahlgren particularly examined how the installation of an Organic Rankine Cycle onboard a ship can convert waste heat to electricity.