Intelligent Sea project is progressing: The ”Snifferbuoy” prototype is progressing to piloting phase

One of the buoy types to be tested in the Intelligent Sea project is the Sniffer buoy, in other words an intelligent seabuoy, that is capable of measuring the SOx (Sulphur dioxide) levels of air. Based on this  buoy can conclude if the passing vessels complies with the regulated sulphur dioxide levels. Ships can comply with regulations either by using LSHFO (low sulphur fuel), alternative low sulphur content fuels like ie. LNG or by cleaning the sulphur from the exhaust with the help of sulphur dioxide washers, so called Scrubbers.  

The Baltic Sea has been a SECA (Sulphur Emission Control Area) togehter with the North Sea and the English Channel since 2015. In the SECA area the maximum allowed sulphur content is 0,1% of the fuel. The sulphur emissions are restricted also inside the ECA area along the USA coast and parts of the sea of Caribbean. In the rest of the world the limit has until now been 3,5% of the content of the fuel but from the turn of the year 2020 the IMO “Sulphur Cap” limitations will restrict the entire global shipping to comply with the 0,5% sulphur content in fuel or an adequate cleaning of the exhaust to the same emission level. This increases the need for emission control explicitly.

As an example the Finnish waters are controlled by Traficom. In Finland the sulphur emission control has been up and running satisfactory for years with the help of automatized emission control stations along the fairways that monitor all vessel traffic emissions. With the help of automized measuring and prossessing of results the authorities get enhanced information on which vessels to carry out spot tests on in port. However in many countries the emission control is still quite sporadic and based on occasional fuel sampling or for instance emission testing with help of drones. The drones are flown close to the vessels funnel and the emission levels measured from the exhaust. The drones are operated by persons which makes this range short and the work rather labour intense, especially in highly operated areas.   

The goal with the Sniffer buoy is that it can be installed anywhere on the sea where there is a shipping fairway. It will be in operation 24/7. It is designed to work for years autonomously without maintenance and will keep contact through its inbuilt transmitter. It will produce continuous measurement data from the air on pollutants as well as prevailing weather  conditions (wind direction, -speed etc.) and the results can then be coupled to the vessels passing the buoy with the help of AIS data.

The pilotbuoys top and the development team from Kine Roboticsin in Turku November 2019

The results will be processed by a program called Airnow, developed by Kine. The results can for instance be processed using “traffic light” principle alerting the authorities of all suspected emission violations which can then be verified or cleared with the help of fuel sampling at port. The Snifferbuoy will be powered by a combination of solar panels and rechargeable batteries. The powering of the buoy is the greatest challenge, especially in Nordic conditions. Therefore the buoy is outfitted with a “sleep mode” function that will stop the functionalities when the battery level is too low and re-activates the functions once the solar panels have recharged the batteries enough.

The first pilot buoy is planned to be tested in vicinity of the Port of Naantali during 2020. The target is to start the tests in the beginning of the year but as the complex technology is still being tested there is some uncertainty of the actual schedule. The buoy type will also be piloted in the Ports of Stockholm during the Intelligent Sea project.

The target is to be able to launch a fully developed and operational product that will be able to analyze not only sulphur emissions but also NOx (nitrogen oxides) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions as soon as possible.

Inside the Intelligent Sea project Meritaito and the project partners Port of Naantali and Ports of Stockholm will further develop and test smart buoys with 5G network transmitters, sensor technology and different energy sources suitable for intelligent buoys and smart fairways. The Intelligent Sea project is a three year development project that is co-funded by the EU.



Eija Koli

Communications Manager

+358 40 725 3911



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