OPERATING globally in more than 100 countries with over 16,000 professionals dedicated to helping customers make the world safer, smarter and greener, DNV GL set up its ECO Research Centre (ERC) as a maritime and offshore research centre under its advisory division in Singapore almost three years ago.
The R&D centre aims to invest over S$3 million to conduct research to strengthen DNV GL's energy efficiency advisory solutions for the maritime industry.
DNV GL provides classification and technical assurance along with software and independent expert advisory services to the maritime, oil and gas, and energy industries. It also provides certification services to customers across a wide range of industries.
Says Khorshed Alam, vice president and regional manager for South East Asia and Pacific, DNV GL Maritime Advisory: "We envision ourselves as a research institute that not only contributes towards the research needs, but is also committed to grooming local manpower in the research fields."
Usually there is a gap between academic and industrial research. Being closer to the industries, ERC is biased towards industry experts and engineers. At the same time, talent from the academic research community needs to be brought on board maritime research.
"We intend to form the bridge to bring together the best of both academic and industry experts. The combination of the two, in our understanding, will form the building blocks of the world class maritime research centre in Singapore," says Dr Khorshed.
"From this perspective, we collaborate technically with local universities such as NUS and NTU, as well as A*STAR. We have the hands-on industry experts and they have the talent pool of professors and students. Our research themes are mostly marine related, involving transforming new and future technology for deployment and commercialisation, developing pathways towards efficient shipping operation and electrifying the maritime future for low-carbon power, to name a few."
ERC uses local consultants as researchers who are knowledgeable and well experienced in their own specialised fields such as structures, risks and safety, shipping, life-cycle and maritime software. For fields like hydrodynamics, its own experts and qualified engineers from Germany and Norway are used.
The vision of ERC is to use DNV GL's global capability and knowledge and eventually transfer it to the upcoming local researchers in order to build a future generation of excellence in the research field comprising both engineers and researchers, which would be the basis of sustainable R&D resources in the future, says Dr Khorshed.
ERC's administrative cost is partially funded by MPA's Maritime Cluster Fund. For research projects, it taps on MPA's MINT fund which usually provides half of the total cost of the research projects. Often, industry collaborators also contribute towards R&D projects.
DNV GL (Det Norsk Veritas-Germanisher Lloyd's) signed an MOU with MPA in February 2014 to further promote maritime R&D here.
A key R&D project being worked on is the LNG bunkering simulation tool. This simulation project is to develop a 3-D animated procedural tool for LNG bunkering between ship to ship, truck to ship and terminal to ship in Singapore. The bunkering procedure covers safety aspects of LNG bunkering and the visualisation effect will enhance better training execution for those who are new to LNG bunkering. LNG bunker suppliers and receivers will both benefit from this simulation tool.
Dr Khorshed says another research project is to develop a zero-emission ferry concept that is powered by hydrogen.
"We collaborate with Horizon Ferry, a company that operates services between Singapore and Indonesia. We utilise their operational profile to create a greener design in three phases: firstly, powering with LNG; secondly, LNG plus reformer; and thirdly, fuel cell using hydrogen from a renewable source such as windmills.
"We cover all feasibility studies from concept, supply and building right up to operation. Our research also includes comprehensive safety and risk study of operating such vessels in Singapore and Indonesian ports. The study will empower Singapore's sustainability and futuristic capability in maritime studies with opportunity to commercialise the design with local shipbuilders in Asia."
ERC progressively submits research ideas and proposals to MPA and applies for MINT fund support. Some of its research submissions include scrubber system modelling and simulation CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tool, ballast water tank sedimentation prevention CFD and hybrid green harbour craft.
"As these topics are practically challenging to the industry, we hope that our R&D will provide the necessary solutions for their sustainable applications," says Dr Khorshed.