Optimizing engine usage on LNG vessels
Understanding and solving operational challenges of LNG vessels is what, we at Eniram, do every day. We have been helping around 30 LNG carriers over the past three years with onboard optimization and performance management. The latest matter we worked on was to figuring out how to assist tri-fuel diesel electric (TFDE) and dual-fuel diesel-electric (DFDE) LNG carriers to optimise engine usage to save fuel.
Eniram has from the very beginning taken a data driven approach to solve various challenges in optimizing vessel operations. We deliver fuel and emission savings to the shipping industry and help with business decisions via advanced data analytics.
True to the data driven approach that Eniram uses, nowadays, there are more than 1.9 billion measurements taken from hundreds of vessels every day. I often hear hype words like “big data” and “machine learning”, as digitalization is on everyone’s lips. However, this data, especially 1.9 billion data points, is worthless if we do not analyze it. Insight is what we do. We “crunch” data and make something meaningful from it. That helps our customers make better business decisions and create a competitive advantage.
The cruise industry was the first ship segment to benefit from Eniram’s solutions. Over time, our customer base has expanded to other segments, including LNG carriers. Both the aforementioned ship types are very complex and have hundreds of measuring points on board. The more complex the operations are: the more optimization solutions can help. For LNG carriers, we collect and analyze on average 500 data points. It is crucial to have the right tools to make sense out of the data to be able to draw conclusions and use the results for our customer’s advantage and get actionable insights.
When developing the Eniram “Engine for LNG” module, our mission was to understand the complexity and the operational restrictions that LNG carriers face. In addition, our ambition was to “hide” the complexity of the algorithms and complicated computations, and show recommendations in simple understandable, and actionable ways. Irrespective of new engine models introduced to the market, tri-fuel and dual-fuel diesel-electric engines are going to be around for a long time. In fact, 130 operational dual and tri-fuel vessels are currently on the market, with another 70 in the orderbook. Thus, I think it was sensible that we started with vessels already on the market to justify developing a solution specifically for them.
Fuel is often the greatest operating cost. When speaking to one of our LNG carrier customers, I learned that the biggest challenge was figuring out how many engines had to run and which fuel to use, to produce the required power. I realized we would be able to develop a solution that optimizes exactly that. We concluded that it will be especially useful for the engineers on board LNG carriers who work in very complex environments, with dual and tri-fuel engines, where possible sudden needs to increase power, boil-off gas management, fuel modes, and operational practices are everyday challenges. These are all uncommon for other vessel types. To understand the customer’s needs and to ensure that we would develop a useful tool, we developed the “Engine for LNG” module in close cooperation with end-users.
We created the module using mathematical algorithms to calculate the optimum fuel and engine alternatives in real-time. The data used by the algorithm models include components like specific fuel consumption (SFC) curves, fuel flows, and power measurements. The real-time data calculations ensure that recommendations are given nearly instantaneously. This is crucial in making sure that the recommendations are relevant and valuable when making operational decisions on the spot.
Using real data from dual and tri-fuel LNG carriers with the algorithms show that Eniram “Engine for LNG” saves on average 3% of fuel. On certain voyages the fuel saving potential can be much higher but a conservative figure is proven to be between 2-4%. That is a saving that comes in very handy in this pressing market situation that LNG carriers are currently facing.
At Eniram, we strive to constantly improve our offerings, and, as evidence, Eniram “Engine for LNG” now has an extended functionality – a proactive planning mode. This new feature, currently in use on several ships, enables the planning of engine use for needs during the voyage. Factors considered in the planning mode are, for example, the amount of boil-off available for engine fuel, power requirements, and the number of engines available to produce the required power.
The solution upgrade will enable proactive engine optimization, in addition to real-time optimization. This means that the crew can proactively switch to optimal engine combinations right away, instead of reacting to optimization suggestions when suboptimal combinations are used. This will further maximize fuel savings and save crew time.
Eniram “Engine for LNG” is now available for dual and tri-fuel LNG carriers equipped with the Eniram Platform. We can help you get the most out of your engines, and save precious fuel.