EU Research Looks at Ice, Vessel Safety


In research results recently published by CORDIS, European Union-funded project SEDNA discusses the severe challenges faced by ship navigators due to increased maritime traffic in the Arctic caused by global warming, among other operational changes.

According to the report, SEDNA has developed an integrated risk-based approach for steering vessels to safety.

Project SEDNA

Upon receiving funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, SEDNA or “Safe maritime operations under extreme conditions: the Arctic case,” began developing an innovative and integrated risk-based approach to safe Arctic navigation, ship design and operation.

The research group has a global consortium, with 14 partners from 6 different countries, including China, and ran for three years having started work in June 2017.

To address the challenges of ensuring safe Arctic operations, the team came up with five innovations:

  • A human-centered “Safe Arctic Bridge” for ice-going vessels;
  • Optimized Arctic voyage planning, combining ice monitoring and weather forecasting, using Big Data and Data Management;
  • Anti-icing solutions for vessels;
  • A ‘risk-based design framework’ to encompass all aspects of Arctic ship operation; and
  • Enhancing the safety of Methanol bunkering through the use of Low Flash Point Fuels in Arctic shipping.

“The SEDNA initiative was a multidisciplinary project aimed at advancing safety in the Arctic, especially around aspects related to navigation,” outlined Gary Randall, project coordinator and principal consultant at the BMT Group, the coordinating company.

To test these innovations, the team conducted a variety of usability testing, field testing, end-user demonstrations and test case studies. Specifically for the Safe Arctic Bridge, researchers created an evidence-based, user-tested design framework to reliably support safer traffic movements in the Arctic.

“Our ideas were embedded in virtual and augmented reality and include new map overlays, color palettes, iconography and new collaborative tools,” Randall noted.

According to the team, the customizable Arctic voyage planning tool has already been combined with an existing vessel management and monitoring system sold by consortium member GreenSteam. Although the technology is still in its prototype stage, it has been reported to successfully predict weather, ice, route and ship-specific operational parameters all within one interface.

The technology is noted to better aid in planning new or alternative routes.

In looking more closely at developing anti-icing solutions for these Artic voyagers, a research group from the University College London addressed the issue in looking at passive anti-icing, nature-inspired principles and electrothermal defenses.

“The ice loading process has a clear stochastic nature, due to variations in the ice conditions and in the icebreaking processes of ships,” wrote SEDNA. Through their research, the team used numerical simulation tools to study the different characteristics of various ice types and icebreaking processes to be used for prediction of the probabilistic ice loads on the studied sea areas.

As a result of the combined analysis and approaches, SEDNA intended to deliver:

  • The production and characterization of adherent, robust and efficient ice-phobic coatings;
  • Smart and multifunctional coatings with integrated anti-icing/de-icing capabilities;
  • Production and optimization of large area prototypes anti-icing/de-icing coatings; and
  • Prototypes of optimized of large area anti-icing/de-icing coatings for field trials.

To achieve these goals, researchers conducted additional lab testing in the large ice testing tanks at Aalto University in Finland after problems arose with field testing due to COVID-19.

On the topic of environmental protection, researchers also developed a new CEN workshop agreement, which focuses on three methanol bunkering concepts involving truck to ship; shore to ship; and ship to ship.

“Methanol is an important low carbon, non-polluting, possible fuel of the future,” Randall emphasized.

However, Randall  added that he believed the most promising channels for future work were the combined ship and route management software, along with upcoming developments regarding the Safe Arctic Bridge.

“This human-centered operational environment for the ice-going ship bridge has attracted much interest, and SEDNA partners will work in 2021 and 2022 with Microsoft and major bridge developers, such as Kongsberg, to pursue new prototypes,” he concluded.


Tagged categories: Coating Materials; EU; Europe; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Marine; Marine Coatings; Program/Project Management; Research; Research and development; Ships and vessels

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