DFDS climate plan includes AI on the bridge, methanol injection in four strokes

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Image: DFDS

Copenhagen-headquartered freight and passenger ferry operator DFDS has released details of its climate plan for the next ten years. Longer term, DFDS aims to be climate neutral by 2050. Meantime, its short-term plan is to achieve an emissions reduction of about 45% by 2030, compared to 2008 levels. The main focus is on existing vessels and minor technical upgrades. The company will use solutions such as correct coating on vessel hulls and decision support systems onboard and in the office. However, the fleet will also undergo major upgrades, with modifications of bulbs and propellers.

“Artificial intelligence will help us,” says DFDS. Today, it says, it has a monthly fuel report for our vessel operations, but no insights as to what is behind the numbers.

“We know what we use, but not how these figures are accumulated,” says the company. “Our crews and their shore-side support teams need better information on how they can operate in a more fuel-efficient way.”

The company plans to use a tool based on artificial intelligence (AI) that will monitor vessel operations, providing data on where there is excessive fuel consumption, both on routes and on individual vessels.

“This new smart AI system located on the vessels’ bridge will give the crews qualified directions on what is the right speed and also real-time advice on which route will help the fuel on board last longer,” says Jacob Pedersen, Head of Projects & Implementation in DFDS’ Technical Organization. :After a crossing, there will be a report on what the crew has done well in terms of consuming fuel, and also where they can improve.”


DFDS plans to introduce small amounts of methanol in the the four stroke propulsion engines used in many of its vessels, in the four stroke engines that make up the majority of our fleet.

“Together with onsite-produced hydrogen, we will inject the methanol into combustion chambers, replacing up to 10-15% of the heavy fuel oil needed to fuel the same voyage today,” says the company. “This technology is still under development and we expect it to be approved by engine manufacturers during 2020. We have already done initial testing and the results look promising.”

Through doing this, DFDS hopes to be able to push the market demand for sustainable fuels like green methanol, one of several fuel sources it is continuing to investigate.

While optimizing the use of fuel is one very important factor when it comes to reducing emissions, another, says DFDS, is what it does to improve the hulls, coating and shaping of the propeller curves for a vessel to be able to sail in a more fuel-efficient manner.

“We are constantly scanning the market to pinpoint new ways of optimizing what we have,” says Thomas Mørk, Vice President of DFDS’ Technical Organization “We continuously assess where we should set in based on where we can harvest the greatest effect. The bottom line is that not only are we saving the environment from thousands of tons of CO2 every year, we are also able to work with fuel consumption in a smarter way. In time, this will help us run our vessels cheaper and greener and that just makes good business sense.”

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