An eight-member consortium named POSSEIDON (Progressive Oil Sensor System for Extended Identification On-line), sponsored and funded by EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to the tune of €1.2 million and headed by Martechnic in Germany, has developed a sensor system that guards a ship’s all-powerful lifeblood, i.e. lubrication systems.
The sensor consists of a black box fixed to the engine, and it relentlessly scrutinizes along with its oil-monitoring software, and alerts the ship’s crew if there is a problem in the lubrication system, and also facilitates the ship to get back to its predetermined route.
While several modern ships having sensors that monitor pressure, temperature, and other engine systems, sensors to spot and track lube oil (LO) are few in number, and not very resourceful . Hence POSSEIDON consortium has decided to get to the core of this problem, by sharing resources in various fields such as lubrication, optics, methodology, fluidics, technology, and customers’ requirements, and creating a new high technology product for the shipping industry.
The ship’s core propulsion and power generation engines which are lubricated, are screened incessantly by the sensor, testing key attributes such as viscosity, base number, water-in-oil levels, contaminants in LO, and also forecasting contagion and degradation of oil. LO is of prime significance to engines, and if left unmonitored, might prove to be dangerous to the ship, cargo and the crew inside.
Dr. David Baglee of University of Sunderland in UK, and one of POSSEIDON’s foremost researchers, clarified that 40 tonnes of costly LO, rotates inside the ship’s main propulsion engine, and this LO is affected not only by typical mellowing problems, but also by other factors such as fuel oil, sea water and fresh water, and refinery dregs obtained from incineration of heavy fuels. If the vessel is inoperative even for a single day, it would incur a loss to the tune of millions of pounds. Hence even if LO is pricey, it is of vital importance to the economics of the ship and also it helps in protecting the ship against oil spills.
According to him, the sensor is hardy enough to withstand the rigors of sea life, without any special maintenance requirements. Its software functions constantly, and signals the crew members to take remedial steps and undertake repairs, prior to occurrence of any serious threat or damage. This is the premier project involving University of Sunderland’s Institute for Amap (Automotive and manufacturing Advanced Practice) and the marine industry. He concluded saying that, the future possibilities for this software seemed immense, and that they were looking forward to use it in sectors such as wind power.