Danish drone could help bust maritime pollution sinners

Denmark is among the few nations to have set aside funds for maritime emissions monitoring

A new Danish drone could be the answer when it comes to enforcing new international regulations concerning maritime sulphur emissions next year. The legislation, which is set to come into effect on 1 January 2015, will limit the maximum sulphur content permitted in ship fuel to 0.1 percent.

The drone project – which is called Project Sense and has been developed by the Danish company Explicit in co-operation with Force Tech­nology – can reveal the sulphur content of a ship's fuel by flying above its smoke plume. Test flights over the summer have proven successful.

”During the test flight, we tested manual and autonomic flights following a specific route and made the required adjustments of filter inlets and corrected sensor noise,” Jon Knudsen, the head of Explicit, told Ingeniøren newspaper.

”The results were so pleasing that today we have a system that is ready to hit the skies.”

READ MORE: Danish drone producer teams up with Boeing

Revolutionising emissions monitoring
Monitoring maritime fuel sulphur content is a difficult task in Denmark. Fuel samples – some 75 this year – are taken from ships while they are docked in harbours. But it's a slow process and many ships sail on before samples can be taken.

The system also fails to monitor the tens of thousands of ships that sail through Danish waters every year without stopping at Danish harbours.

”In principle, the drone can immediately register the sulphur sinners online and send the information on to the authorities of the nation where the ship is scheduled to dock next,” Knudsen said.

Aside from the Netherlands and Belgium, which have scheduled test flights for maritime monitoring without specifying equipment use, Denmark is the only nation in Europe to set aside funds (seven million kroner) to the development of technology for monitoring maritime sulphur emissions.