Polluted air and its impact on human health is one of the main challenges facing cities in both developed and developing nations. Proliferation of Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) powered vehicles, a booming construction industry, rapid unsustainable urbanisation and the Urban Heat and Pollution Island all increases the amount of Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter in the atmosphere. The World Health Organisation estimates these PM10 particles cause an extra two million additional deaths per year globally.
Steps are being taken in London to tackle this growing public health concern including the low emission zone, cycling schemes, hydrogen and hybrid powered buses and the reintroduction of green spaces to make the city healthier and more liveable. However, as the river is governed by the Port of London Authority, it is exempt from these strict guidelines. Highly polluting engines can sail right into the centre of London, through a Thames shaped loophole in the Mayors ultra-low emission zone strategy.
The Thames has for centuries been an integral part of the London economy and now adds an estimated £4bn to the London economy (GVA) and 27,000 people are directly employed in port related operations – 43,500 in additional roles. The transport of people and freight takes multiple cars and trucks off the road each year and in a sizeable way. A barge, for example, can carry the load of many tens of lorries. This is good news as it takes emissions off the road, but the ships operating on the Thames often use heavy fuel oil with up to 100 times the level of sulphur oxide gases allowed in cars. This lack of consistency effectively voids many clean air initiatives as well as posing a serious risk to residents near the river.
The health impact of dirty air and the quirk of planning allowing heavy fuel to be used in central London, lead to the creation of the HyFes project. An initiative to fit marine vessels with batteries and allow them to operate in much the same way a hybrid car would. As a test bed, the MBNA Thames Clipper river boat service and their high-speed catamarans were chosen as it was the sort of stop start operation that would suit itself to hybrid propulsion. In much the same way a hybrid car operates, the engine powers a generator to power electric motors that drive the propellers. When the system recognised a drop-in power demand, in calm seas or low speed for example it can switch over the battery power and shut down or idle the engine.
Controlling the switch between engine and battery power sits the HyFes algorithm. This takes input from a suite of onboard sensors and using machine learning is able to determine the best course of action to power the boat.
A captain’s interface unit was also developed for the HyFes project. This prototype would, in practice, act as the dashboard of the vessel showing everything the crew needs to see in order to run the boat. The design was such that it was not meant to be a distraction but would instead represent state through a pastel green/yellow/red colour scheme so one would quickly be alerted to something requiring attention.
The project team contains an entire value chain including academia, equipment suppliers, vessel manufacturer and end user to support the development and application of all the technologies.
Southampton University is a joint host to the Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Storage and its Applications. The centre is currently engaged in a number of relevant projects involving the condition monitoring and data logging of electric vehicles, battery management and characterisation and hybrid systems.
Heriot-Watt University has relevant skills and experience in artificial intelligence, prognostics and health management. Recent projects (InnovateUK, KTP) include intelligent monitoring for UK naval market and holistic health management for subsea cables for Scottish & Southern Energy.
The High-Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute (HSSMI) is a research and technology development organisation with a successful track record of delivering Innovate UK funded projects. The institute will bring energy management and monitoring experience and overall project management excellence. HSSMI’s DRM sensor was developed for the automotive sector which is far ahead of marine industry at this time and will look to transfer in further expertise from this sector.
CCPS provides design, consultancy and manufacturing services specialising in AC and DC energy conversion, parameter measurement and monitoring systems. The development of CCPS’s patented and innovative hotel battery monitoring system was initially funded by a SMART award. This award will allow CCPS to mature its technology independently of the success of the Fusion system.
Denchi Power is an established supplier of lithium-ion batteries to the defence sector for use by soldiers and military vehicles. Denchi is using this project to improve the sustainability of its business by diversifying into the marine sector (propulsion battery) and to improve its systems engineering capability (Fusion system).
Ferguson Marine is an expert in ship building capability and has recently delivered two hybrid vessels for use in the Western Isles. The company has traditionally focused on the construction of vessels hulls and structure and outsourced electrical systems design to subcontractors based in mainland Europe.
However, after a recent restructuring process the business is keen to bring more of this expertise in house and this project is an important element of that strategy, particularly as the system could deliver a total cost of ownership competitive advantage.
Thames Clippers is a river bus service with an annual fuel bill of over £3,000,000 and an expectation of more stringent emissions legislation in the near-future. Maintenance is also a significant cost to the business and this project offers an opportunity to be at the forefront of technology insertion that will drive down through life costs and emissions.
The following avenues of enquiry are now open following completion of the project;
- HSSMI are now involved in Naval 4.0, a 3yr long EU project to assess the readiness of shipbuilders to implement new technology
- HyDIME project to operate a 50kW hydrogen powered car ferry
- Discussions with PLA and Scrabster Harbour Trust to install pier side power to support the growth of London as a destination for large cruise ships.
102432 Hybrid Fusion Energy Systems (HyFES) Project – Exploitation Plan – Version 3