EMSA ship emissions monitoring via drone sniffers


(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) can be used as aerial platforms for gas sensors (“sniffers”) to make measurements of the amount of SOx in a plume being emitted by an individual ship. Based on the SOx measurement, the sulphur content of the ship’s fuel can be estimated and compared to legal limits. The RPAS also carry sensors to assist in the identification of the vessel. This operational information can be complementary to the emission monitoring activities of Member State authorities. There are currently a range of tools available with different operational advantages.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Service is aimed at measuring the amounts of SOx that are emitted by individual vessels travelling into or in the European Emission Control Areas (ECAs) and, in general, territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and pollution control zones of Member States (Sulphur Directive: Article 6).

The combination of real time on-site data from an RPAS, complemented by the maritime information available through the Agency and the availability of Member State Sulphur inspectors can be a cost effective solution for emission monitoring as well as deterrence.

Click on below image to view relevant informational leaflet from EMSA.

Source: European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)



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  1. Interesting article, but the reality of drones providing accurate, meaningful readings is difficult to believe. They currently have restricted flight time and range. The plume dispersal will change from second to second, especially as distance from the funnel increases, and you'd need to sample in the centre of the plume - right at the point where visibility is lowest. To get an accurate reading the drone would have to launch from, and be visually controlled from, a position no more than a few hundred yards from the ship. Eg from a bridge, or from a helicopter. Don't suppose the writer has ever heard of wind which confuses the issue.m This article does not cover you in glory.

    There is only one way to provide meaningful emission readings and that is to have a fixed system installed on in the ships engine room. There are few systems, but they do exist.