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Denmark Launches Sulphur Inspection Drones

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The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has announced that its service of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) is being utilized by Danish authorities to monitor vessel emissions.

Operating in the area of the Great Belt, a route transited by ships travelling to and from the Baltic Sea, RPAS measure the emission of sulphur to determine whether a particular vessel is compliant with EU rules on the sulphur content of fuels.

Chris Mason, Rajant, discusses how drones can be used to future-proof seaports in a recent Port Technology technical paper

The drones, which are fitted with a gas sensor known as a “sniffer”, fly in the plume of a ship to estimate the amount of sulphur in its fuel, before transferring that data to Danish authorities for review.

In Denmark, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency enforces sulphur rules with the support of the Danish Maritime Authority, which conducts ship inspections in the nation’s various ports.


Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (Credit: EMSA)


According to a statement, RPAS operations will contribute to the more efficient enforcement of fuel regulations and reduce the level of air pollution produced by ships travelling in this region.

In addition to this, the service will be developed so that flights can be monitored through the EMSA’s RPAS data centre, offering users an online interface which provides details on the drone’s journey and measurements.

The technology also includes daylight and infrared cameras, as well as an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver.

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