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Electrification of industry is the way to carbon neutrality

Author Teemu Turunen
Posted on

The electrification of industry is an important element in reducing greenhouse emissions, and the role of heat pumps is central in this development. It is particularly important to look at things from a broader perspective and utilize waste heat. In the best case scenario, several operators can benefit from the solution. However, as the processes become more complicated, the importance of their control must be remembered.

 

Electricity consumption in Finnish industry is expected to grow significantly. According to Fingrid’s extreme scenario, it will even double by 2030. Of course, more moderate developments have been outlined, and growth also depends on the industrial sector.

The forecasts do not come as a surprise as the electrification of industry plays an important role in reducing greenhouse emissions. Another driving force of electrification, security of supply, has come to the fore since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. There are already large-scale projects under way, such as SSAB’s HYBRIT project, which represents electrification on a larger scale.

At its simplest, an old solution is replaced with an electric one

Electrification refers to a situation where, for example, a process equipment that uses fossil fuel is replaced with an electric solution: for example, a gas-powered forklift is replaced with an electric forklift or a regular boiler with an electric boiler. Although this may sound like an easy solution, it is always important to anticipate the effects of the change on the process. For example, making bread is different with electric and gas ovens.

Electrification can also be implemented indirectly. In this case, electricity is used to produce, for example, hydrogen or synthetic fuels. The hydrogen economy is rising fast, although it will probably take the next decade before it has an impact on our entire energy system.

Heat pumps play a key role in the electrification of industry

An element of energy efficiency comes into play in the world of heat pumps. The benefit is often realized by taking into account wider entities, and eventually the whole process. It is essential that the waste heat can be utilized.

The possibilities of pumps also include that cooling and heating can be done with the same system and the benefits can be distributed to several parties. In this case, there is a move toward sector integration where, for example, there is an industry player at one end and an energy company at the other – and both benefit.

The importance of controlling processes increases

Profitability is important in industry, and that is why a lot of projects are needed: what works in theory is not always financially viable. However, the development of technology opens up new possibilities as higher temperatures can be reached with heat pumps. In the future, the role of process control will also be emphasized when moving toward more complex systems.

However, energy cannot be discussed without mentioning politics. At the moment, it is difficult to predict the price of energy when both production and the market are fluctuating. Great things can still be achieved if one keeps the big picture in mind: the subject should always be approached as a whole.

Teemu Turunen

Phil. Lic. (Env. Science)

Teemu Turunen has extensive experience in energy and process consulting in several industries. He currently works as Business Development Director in the energy and process business area. His focus is to lead the development of sustainable solutions for future needs.

Intelligent Engineering

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21/06/2022

The end of combustion – a happy ending?

Kirjoittanut By Sebastian Kankkonen

We have many reasons to change our energy consumption behavior and replace fossil fuels. However, even alternative energy sources have their drawbacks. Hydrogen is a hot topic, but its large-scale production and storage pose challenges....

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The end of combustion – a happy ending?

Author Sebastian Kankkonen
Posted on

We have many reasons to change our energy consumption behavior and replace fossil fuels. However, even alternative energy sources have their drawbacks. Hydrogen is a hot topic, but its large-scale production and storage pose challenges. That is why we must also consider the potential for energy savings. By optimizing any industrial process to be more efficient, it is possible to save both energy and costs.

 

For several centuries, centralized energy production has relied heavily on combustion alone. The heating of households has been done by means of combustion for thousands of years. One turning point for the combustion that we can remember was the oil crisis in the early 1970’s when the world realized that the resources are not infinite, and the oil price soared.

There are several reasons to reconsider our energy use

Oil, along with other fossil fuels such as coal and gas, have been the cornerstone of energy production and transportation for all of us. Several mechanisms have been making us all rethink and change our energy consumption behavior.

Firstly, the cost mechanism with rising fuel prices made us start saving energy which decreased combustion. Then later, environmental regulations became more stringent and further decreased combustion of especially solid fuels. The advances in combustion technology have luckily compensated much.

In recent months, political unrest and the war in Ukraine have made us think about where the combustibles are coming from, and sanctions could be imposed to further decrease combustion of fossil fuels.

We do have several alternatives

Some of our alternatives have more obvious downsides than others. The combustion of biomass is still considered to be approvable; the coal cycle of wood-based fuels just circulates faster. Still, we do have other pollutants to the air than CO2, but they could to a certain degree be reduced by emission control equipment such as scrubbers and filters.

Nuclear energy is a source without CO2 emissions and does not generate emissions to the air. However, various events and technical design flaws have shown us in the past that nuclear energy is not a problem-free solution. The latest nuclear power plants have much more intense safety protocols to prevent nuclear catastrophes from occurring.

Alternative energy sources also have their downsides

Renewables, like water, solar or wind power, are emission-free energy sources. Even they have downsides, since they do affect nature by causing obstacles or barriers for other animals like fish or birds.

Geothermal projects have in general been an environmentally friendly way of producing energy. On a larger scale, they have reportedly generated unrest of the bedrock. Heat pumps are not generating energy from nothing either. Both are a source of heat energy but are also consuming electrical energy of higher exergy.

The challenges of hydrogen are related to production scales and storage

Hydrogen is a very hot topic today. If you are starting to see the pattern of my article you might expect me to start talking about the Zeppelin Hindenburg now. You are wrong. The challenge with hydrogen lies with the large-scale production and storage facilities.

Traditionally hydrogen production and consumption have been smaller scale applications and have been operating without problems for more than a century. There is no sense in producing hydrogen from other viable energy sources just for the sake of hydrogen production. We need to see the big picture.

There is a unique solution for each process

The one alternative left is the most obvious one. Saving energy. By optimizing any industrial process to be more efficient, we can save energy and save costs. In some cases, we can generate heat and recover it in an efficient way.

There is no quick fix, nor is there a single solution. Every client has their unique processes and challenges, and our task at Elomatic is to understand our client and to give them the solution that is the best for them.

Only then can we justify our existence. And maybe save the planet as well.

Sebastian Kankkonen

Sebastian Kankkonen M.Sc. (Energy Technology)

Sebastian Kankkonen graduated from Helsinki University of Technology in 1997. Throughout his career he has worked with forest industry, process industry and energy projects in particular with combusting of a broad range of fuels including process design, modelling and procurement of equipment. Sebastian joined Elomatic in 2010 and works now as a Leading Expert focusing on sales.

Intelligent Engineering

Latest post

11/08/2022

Electrification of industry is the way to carbon neutrality

Kirjoittanut By Teemu Turunen

The electrification of industry is an important element in reducing greenhouse emissions, and the role of heat pumps is central in this development. It is particularly important to look at things from a broader perspective...

Read more » Lue lisää »
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WAAM printing by ANDRITZ Savonlinna Works Oy

Fast developing 3D printing is one solution to component shortage

Authors Teemu Launis, Martti Tryyki
Posted on

3D printing as technology is young and relatively unknown, which is why it isn’t yet fully utilized. The method is, however, developing at a fast pace and should not be ignored, even in the light of component shortage. The biggest challenge we see is that the potential of the method is not yet sufficiently understood. At its best, 3D printing can reform your entire business, when you can print products and spare parts fast and near the user.

Mass production of 3D prints is already an everyday thing. However, the technology is hampered by the lack of standardization and different manufacturing process compared to traditional manufacturing methods. The biggest challenge for the widespread usage of 3D printing is that people don’t quite understand what kind of possibilities the manufacturing method can offer.

When you can print objects easily and take the product lifecycle into account from the design stage, your entire business will revolutionize – All of a sudden, you can manufacture locally the parts that used to be transported from further away. Additionally, the maintenance and delivery of spare parts becomes faster, and they can even be carried out on site. And this will naturally affect your whole business logic.

3D printing makes objects lighter and brings savings

One of the great things about 3D printing is that it gives you the freedom to determine the exact location of the material used. This saves material compared to machining or casting, as you can optimize the 3D printable parts to best suit the application. The method also makes it possible to combine multiple parts into a single object. This reduces the need for assembly and the number of items.

The more you simulate the object and understand the potential of the manufacturing process, the more you reduce material consumption and the more cost-effective manufacturing becomes. The key is to make use of the possibilities that 3D printing can provide you in designing.

Best of all, when the object becomes lighter, it usually brings savings to your customer as well. For example, the lighter you can make the boom of a forestry machine, the less energy it takes to move it. Alternatively, they can use this saved energy to increase capacity. It is also easier to control the movements of a lightweight structure.

Towards more energy efficient solutions

3D printing also allows the optimization of objects that have internal flow systems. This is very useful, for example, in designing cooling and heating, when you can optimize heat transfer by using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

Additionally, you can manufacture even more challenging objects. For example, you can create holes and channels inside an object that cannot be made by drilling or casting. By first defining the interfaces, the required materials, and their mechanical properties, you can then print the optimized object.

Batch production of 3D printing is also suitable for small parts, which can be produced in dozens or even hundreds in a single run. However, the object must always be designed for printing, the same way you design an object to be casted.

Even large objects can be printed

In Finland, a project called DREAMS, led by DIMECC, was launched this spring. Its object is to create an open material database for 3D metal printing. The database will make up for the lack of industry standards and facilitate the use of 3D printing for the most demanding applications. The DREAMS project is financed by Business Finland and it is part of the FAME ecosystem.

The project involves a large number of Finnish research institutes and companies. Elomatic is also participating in the development of WAAM printing (Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing). In WAAM printing, a robot welds structures layer by layer. This way it is possible to print even large metal objects, and the size is not a restraint unlike when printing with an AM machine. The method can even be used to manufacture rocket fuel tanks!

3D printing methods can bring relief, especially in times of crisis when importing parts becomes a bottleneck: when it is enough that information is moving, objects can be quickly sub-manufactured domestically. Another advantage of WAAM printing is that the material used is welding wire, which is easier to import to Finland than, for example, steel sheets.

Want to know how to multiply the benefits of 3D printing? Learn how 3D scanning supports 3D printing >>

Teemu Launis

Vice President, Sales
Mechanical Engineering Services

Teemu Launis has worked in mechanical engineering projects in various positions from designer to project manager. He is one of Elomatic’s representatives in the Finnish Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem. In 2010, Teemu set up Elomatic’s Tampere office. He is currently working in sales of Elomatic’s mechanical engineering services.

Martti Tryyki

Design Manager, Mechanical Engineering

Martti Tryyki started his career in 2000 at the University of Oulu. In 2012, he seized the opportunity to work as Design Manager in Elomatic's Shanghai office, and two years later he continued his work in Finland. His main interests are tailor-made test machine projects, vast utilization of Elomatic’s R&D services, and development of the engineering skills of his group.

Intelligent Engineering

Latest post

11/08/2022

Electrification of industry is the way to carbon neutrality

Kirjoittanut By Teemu Turunen

The electrification of industry is an important element in reducing greenhouse emissions, and the role of heat pumps is central in this development. It is particularly important to look at things from a broader perspective...

Read more » Lue lisää »
Blog

Biogas is a climate friendly solution that Finland now needs

Author Teemu Turunen
Posted on

The war in Ukraine has led to a situation where we should be able to move away from Russian natural gas on short notice. Biogas is the quickest sustainable alternative, as its implementation does not require drastic changes to the existing infrastructure. Biogas is also an environmentally friendly solution: it can help reduce greenhouse gases, promote the circular economy, and close nutrient cycling loops. However, the availability of biogas is limited and investments are required in its production.

The war in Ukraine has driven Europe into an energy crisis, in which the availability of natural gas plays a key role in Central Europe. In some European countries, the share of Russian imported natural gas makes up nearly a sixth of the country’s total energy consumption, which makes it hard to move away from.

The situation in Finland is less critical, as the corresponding share here is less than three percent. Currently, roughly half of natural gas goes into the industrial sector and half into electricity and heat production, where it is possible to replace it with tanker-imported LNG, wood, coal, and peat.

However, it is important to remember the sustainability aspect: while replacing natural gas with another fossil fuel may be a temporary solution to an acute crisis, the direction must clearly be toward a more sustainable transition.

The situation is challenging for industrial undertakings

Moving away from natural gas may require significant technological investments from industrial undertakings, and these can be difficult to implement on short notice. One possible solution would be electrification, where the industrial processes that use natural gas would be replaced with processes that use electricity instead. In practical terms, this can be done with direct electrification using electric boilers or, for example, replacing industrial gas furnaces with electrical ones.

In some cases, it is also possible to use indirect electrification, where heat pumps and electrical resistance used for priming play a central role.

The easiest way to replace natural gas is by using biogas. This way, the changes to the existing infrastructure are small. However, in our acute situation, the availability of biogas is limited and investments are required in its production. Let’s take a closer look into what these investments could be in Finland’s case.

Biogas projects require public support

In our current situation, various elements are required to support biogas projects, one of which is the act on promoting the use of renewable energy sources in transport that entered into force in 2022. In the legislation, biogas becomes part of the must-carry obligation with set limitations.

At the time of writing this text, a change in the legislation has been proposed, where increasing the share of the must-carry obligation is postponed. It is important to note that this proposal does not seek to change the additional obligation for advanced biofuels and biogas. This is a good direction, and we hope the round of statements sees the approval of the proposal as is.

The state should support biogas projects also through other means, such as by clarifying and harmonizing subsidies for operators. This would make it easier for smaller operators to plan projects and implement cooperation projects with multiple operators collaborating. Various benefit-based financial instruments where the price of the subsidy is tied to the environmental gain from the project would make it easier to get projects started.

Tax-related decisions also play a role

Tax-related decisions play their part with regard to the profitability of projects and the market development. From the perspective of biogas, the excise tax and electricity tax are relevant.

At the start of 2022, the legislation made biogas a fuel subject to the excise tax, with the exception of biogas used for heating, which was classified as sustainable. Producers of biogas need to have a sustainability system approved by the Energy Authority in place in order for the gas to be classified as sustainable and therefore tax-free. In other cases, gas is subject to the full excise tax for biogas, also when used for heating.

With regard to the electricity tax, the industrial production of recycled materials and processing afford operators with energy tax subsidy, as in practice electricity used by these factories belongs in the electricity tax class II. As for biogas, the interpretation remains somewhat unclear, but the lower tax class naturally affects the profitability of the factories.

Tools of direction need to account for predictability

We also need to remember that, at some point, the limited production of biogas may need to be directed where its use produces the greatest benefit and most significant environmental effects. We need to carefully consider these direction tools and communicate in a predictable manner to help operators adapt to the changing situation.

In general, all the direction tools of the state need to account for predictability. This way, there is no need for the operators to hesitate to drive their projects forward. In addition, the state should attempt to streamline the permit process and clarify the financing and subsidy concepts.

The attractiveness of the biogas sector should be promoted

As investing in clean solutions is seen as a central risk management tool in the financing market, the circular economy and the production projects for renewable energy sources are currently highly interesting as potential investments. This development can be expected to be highlighted especially with regard to biogas, as it can be used to influence various areas of sustainability: reducing greenhouse gases, promoting the circular economy and closing nutrient cycling loops.

However, it is important to remember investors inspect opportunities from a holistic perspective in relation to other potential investments. Therefore, we should seek to promote the attractiveness of the biogas industry as a potential investment.

The Finnish biogas market is still developing

In 2020, the production of bio methane in Finland was approximately 110 GWh, and the production of biogas was approximately 768 GWh (total sum corresponds to roughly 3.5 percent of natural gas use in Finland). At the time, there were around 79 reactor plants. In addition, bio methane was processed in 21 plants.

It is worth noting that the market sees the sector divided between one strong operator in Gasum and heterogenous smaller operators, with a focus on promoting individual projects. This division may in part reduce the interest of investors toward projects in the sector.

Especially with regard to smaller projects, the technological risks and business risks are highlighted, which is reflected in financing for the projects.

The environmental perspective of biogas should be emphasized

State action has its own significance in promoting financing opportunities, but the development of the biogas industry’s visibility and image is just as important. Farm-scale opportunities have yet to come up in any large capacity in the public debate.

In Finland, the image has been influenced by past technology producers’ technical and financial challenges, which have ultimately resulted in bankruptcy and several unfinished factory projects. However, new players have entered the sector and the number of ongoing projects has increased.

Now would be the opportune moment to develop the public image of the sector as, in the industrial sector, many operators would like to utilize biogas as part of the process of moving away from natural gas. On the other hand, securing the viability and security of supply in the agricultural sector have become ever more important themes following the war in Ukraine. Therefore, the environmental perspective of biogas should be further emphasized in the public debate.

Cooperation will play a key role in the future

The technological side of the sector has been characterized by relatively small operators whose limited resources have not easily allowed for the development of scalable technologies. For this reason, there is clearly room for technological suppliers in the sector who can implement large-scale projects.

On its part, technological development is limited by the lack of competence both on the side of project operators and the authorities. It is worth noting that the production of biogas requires interdisciplinary competence. For example, the heterogeneity of raw materials has affected technological reproducibility and scalability.

In a typical project, competence is required from biology, design, and logistics to financing and profitability. For this reason, it is especially important to “projectify” the whole as part of more extensive ecosystems and cooperation networks.

The roe of the biogas sector as part of the energy system

What is the role of the biogas sector in the future? It is hard to give a definitive answer, but it is my belief that in the short term it will be a significant operator regarding the move away from fossil fuels. According to different scenarios, the need for biogas was estimated at 4–11 TWh before the war in Ukraine, and the ongoing crisis works to speed up this development.

Following the resolution of the acute situation, the focus will presumably move more on the expansion of the use of biogas and mapping new ways to use it. The security of supply perspective will be one that will promote the expansion of the use of biogas and will pave the way for more versatile use of gases both in transport and the industrial sector.

I believe that, in the future, we will be using synthetic methane, bio methane, biogas and hydrogen, which will also open new doors for other electricity-based fuels and solutions in the hydrogen economy.

Learn how to improve the profitability of biogas projects >>

Teemu Turunen

Phil. Lic. (Env. Science)

Teemu Turunen has extensive experience in energy and process consulting in several industries. He currently works as Business Development Director in the energy and process business area. His focus is to lead the development of sustainable solutions for future needs.

Intelligent Engineering

Latest post

11/08/2022

Electrification of industry is the way to carbon neutrality

Kirjoittanut By Teemu Turunen

The electrification of industry is an important element in reducing greenhouse emissions, and the role of heat pumps is central in this development. It is particularly important to look at things from a broader perspective...

Read more » Lue lisää »
Blog

How to improve the profitability of biogas projects?

Author Teemu Turunen
Posted on

In order to improve the profitability of biogas projects, it is important to develop the entire production value chain. The end product should meet an adequate degree of refinement, and a market should be found for the process side products. Increasing the size of a project usually improves overall profitability, in addition to which the location of the factory plays a significant role. It is important to note that most of the ways to affect the profitability of operations can only be utilized at the design stage.

The profitability aspect of biogas projects has proven to be challenging despite various forms of support having been available. Developing the entire value chain plays a key role in promoting the profitability of projects. In practice, this means development with regard to both raw materials and end products.

Developing the end product market plays a central role: the end product should meet an adequate degree of refinement based on the need, and a market should be found for the process side products, such as digested sludge.

For instance, at the farm scale, the leftovers from the digestion of manure-based biogas can be processed into recycled fertilizer, which could be used to replace manure in the fields. The benefits of recycled fertilizer are smaller rates of phosphorus washouts in the waters as well as the type of nitrogen, which plants can more effectively use.

The current problem is that spreading manure directly in the field is more profitable for the farmer, as the recycled fertilizer market is still developing. The development of the market calls for clearer legislation, new research, and active operators in the market.

Factory location and project size play a key role

The profitability of biogas projects is greatly influenced by the location of the factory, which contributes both to the profitability of the raw materials and the end product logistics. A suitable industrial-scale user of biogas who commits to purchasing the end products of the factory in the area can also positively affect the convenience of the location.

Both with regard to small- and large-scale production, increasing the size of the project usually improves profitability on the whole. In practical terms, at the smaller scale, this means joint projects between several farms, and at the larger scale, the involvement of notable industrial operators in the projects.

The food sector in particular has been active with projects as of late. For example, Valio has started developing a carbon-neutral milk chain in cooperation with its producers. The involvement of industrial-scale operators usually also increases the interest of investors toward the projects.

The project should be developed with a focus on the value chain

Projects can involve, for example

  • an industrial enterprise, who supplies the raw material
  • a consultant / design expert
  • a biogas plant operator
  • an operator who purchases the main product and
  • a possible operator who processes the side products.

In this case, the project is developed with a focus on the value chain, which makes it possible to demonstrate the benefits more comprehensively.

One possible developmental direction is for individual projects to be compiled as part of a more extensive project portfolio at as early a stage as possible. Such a model would call for an operator who would focus on the subject, be responsible for the development of the project, construction, or maintenance as well as the coordination of financing. The operator could possibly also take the role of owner.

Thereby, individual projects would gain access to the operator’s competence, which in turn would speed up the start of the projects and reduce the financial risk as a result.

Profitability is largely determined in the planning phase

On one hand, the profitability of the projects can be influenced through technological development and, on the other hand, by seeking to account for the use of the factory already in the planning phase. Biogas plant technology is constantly developing, and as efficient and scalable technologies become available on the market, the profitability of the projects is improved both through decreased investment costs and more efficient operations.

It is important to note that most of the ways to affect the profitability of operations can only be utilized at the design stage. Due to this, it is important to sufficiently make use of available or external expertise in the planning phase.

Are you planning to launch a biogas project? Contact our experts >>

Teemu Turunen

Phil. Lic. (Env. Science)

Teemu Turunen has extensive experience in energy and process consulting in several industries. He currently works as Business Development Director in the energy and process business area. His focus is to lead the development of sustainable solutions for future needs.

Intelligent Engineering

Latest post

11/08/2022

Electrification of industry is the way to carbon neutrality

Kirjoittanut By Teemu Turunen

The electrification of industry is an important element in reducing greenhouse emissions, and the role of heat pumps is central in this development. It is particularly important to look at things from a broader perspective...

Read more » Lue lisää »
Blog

The benefits of using pushover analysis in earthquake engineering

Author Lauri Saarela
Posted on

In daily earthquake engineering, most earthquake analyses use linear or quasi-non-linear methods, where the non-linear behavior of structures is not taken into account explicitly during the analysis. The earthquake engineering field has long been in need of a performance-based analysis method that would also capture these non-linear effects i.e. inelasticity of structures.

Pushover analysis is a non-linear static method used in seismic assessment of buildings. It takes into account the non-linear behavior of structures and thus fills the void that usage of linear analysis types leaves. Even though pushover analysis has been around for a long time, it is still not very widely used in daily engineering. While linear analyses fail to meet the requirements regarding depiction of non-linear behavior of steel structures, pushover analysis is a valid tool for assessing the stiffness, strength and ductility/resiliency of a steel structure in the inelastic range. It also meets the simplicity requirements that are often present in daily engineering projects since the most accurate method, non-linear dynamic analysis, requires complicated data and is not simple enough to be used in daily engineering.

During an earthquake, a building oscillates back and forth, and certain structural elements are meant to absorb the oscillation energy. If the earthquake is strong enough, these structural elements may yield and buckle in the process of acting as fuses to absorb most of the shock, while leaving important load-carrying elements in the building intact. In non-linear dynamic analysis, the whole oscillation history of the structure is analyzed. Pushover analysis is a static method, which analyzes the single worst possible oscillation (target displacement) that the structure would have during the earthquake. Pushover analysis allows for a detailed estimation of which structural elements yield and buckle during the earthquake and how and when these plastic mechanisms develop. In other words, the capacity of the building can be determined.

The capacity of the building is depicted as follows: as the top-story displacement value is increased up to a certain value (target displacement), reaction forces at the base of the building (base shear) also increase. When a curve is plotted where the target displacement value is at the horizontal axis and the base shear force is at the vertical axis, a characteristic capacity curve, or a pushover curve, of the building is formed. An example of a pushover curve is shown in the figure below.


The design loads in elastic analyses that are derived from elastic earthquake spectrums, which are reduced to design spectrums using a so-called behavior factor. The behavior factor of a structure depicts the non-linear behavior, or over strength, that the structure possesses after the elastic capacity has been reached. These behavior factors are usually taken from codes and there is discussion in the literature, whether these factors are always correct. Pushover analysis allows for more realistic and structure-performance-dependent re-evaluation of the behavior factor as opposed to taking the behavior factor from a code just based on the structure type an incorporating it into an elastic analysis.


Pushover analysis is a very practical and reliable tool when applied correctly. It does not require complicated data. Combined with the N2-procedure in Eurocode 8, pushover analysis can be a valid tool for determining the target displacement, base shear loads, plastic mechanisms and capacity of a structure that is symmetric and low in elevation. It is especially useful in estimating which elements of a structure would fail under an earthquake loading and in determining how it affects the global stability of the structure.

The animation below shows a transient analysis on the left and a corresponding pushover analysis on the right. The animations have been synchronized so that as the highest value of oscillation occurs in the transient analysis, the pushover analysis animation is run to the same value following the same displacement pattern. The plastic mechanisms forming in the pushover analysis are similar to those in the transient analysis.

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Lauri Saarela

Konetekniikan DI. Olen toiminut Elomaticilla teknisenä laskijana vuodesta 2018. Työtehtäväni ovat vaihdelleet ydinvoimalaitoksen turvaluokiteltujen komponenttien seismisestä laskennasta elektroniikkalaitteiston eksplisiittiseen pudotussimulaatioon. Diplomityöni käsitteli pushover-analyysiä teräsrakenteiden seismisessä analysoinnissa. Harrastan mm. kamppailulajeja, kitaransoittoa, kalastusta ja frisbeegolfia.

Intelligent Engineering

Latest post

11/08/2022

Electrification of industry is the way to carbon neutrality

Kirjoittanut By Teemu Turunen

The electrification of industry is an important element in reducing greenhouse emissions, and the role of heat pumps is central in this development. It is particularly important to look at things from a broader perspective...

Read more » Lue lisää »
Blog

Evolution of autonomous maritime operations driven by automation technology and digitalisation

Author Kimmo Matikka
Posted on

Background, prerequisite and first visions of autonomous ships

Radio communication for maritime industry started to develop in the beginning of 1900. 1910-1970 was the period for development of radio communication, gyro compass, radar and heading control. By marine electronics development, 1970-1995 route graphics on radar display, track control, conning displays, GMDSS and GPS and electronic chart systems were developed.

Development of integrated navigation systems started already in 70’s but, it can be said that the navigation system integration really started in the beginning of the 80’s by available electronic devices and systems, followed by speed control and AIS-systems in late 80’s. Study of “Ship of the Future” started in 1980.

Meanwhile navigation and communication systems got more automated, control and functions of machinery systems started to be based on automation as well, thanks to better sensor technology and computers. Today, in modern vessels, almost everything is controlled via ship’s automation system (IAMCS) with protective functions for the equipment. The system might take care of thousands of I/O channels. That alloys automated HVAC systems, diesel electric propulsion and power plant with Power Management System (PMS) etc. Everything is mostly automated which the ship’s crew controls and makes corrective actions and orders.

Vision of autonomous ships published already before ship systems started to get automated. As early as 1970´s, vision of autonomous ships was launched by Rolf Schonknecht in his book “Ships and Shipping of Tomorrow”.

Progress of autonomous maritime operations  development

There are several names and definitions for different types of automated ships with different level of autonomy; remotely controlled, unmanned, autonomous etc. IMO has also defined different levels for Maritime Unmanned Surface Ships (MASS). Unmanned ship can be remotely controlled or autonomous, but autonomous ship must be able to operate without human assistance, though it is monitored by crew onboard or shore based Shore Control Center (SCC). As nowadays, most of the ship systems are highly automated, there is still a lot of work to create such a complete and absolute wholeness with algorithms, artificial Intelligent and machine learning, to fulfill all functions and circumstances which might occur in maritime operations. Maritime environment is much more complicated and variable than the road network onshore. The responsibility matter, if something unexpected happens, is not adequately solved yet.

Japan had a project in 1982-1988 to develop a highly reliable, intelligent and automated operational systems in maritime operations, remotely controlled from shore based control station. Korea started to research an Unmanned Autonomous Surface Vessels for maritime survey and surveillance in 2011. European MUNIN project 2012, REVOLT by DNV-GL 2013-2018, AAWA project led by Rolls-Royce 2015, Lloyd’s Register Guidance 2016, MOL project for Autonomous Ocean Transport System 2017, just to mention few projects. The World’s first Autonomous Shipping Company Masterly established in 2018 by Kongsberg and Wilhelmsen.

Autonomous Maritime Ecosystem
Picture 1: One Sea Autonomous Maritime Ecosystem

2019-2020 some full scale (tug boat and archipelago ferry) tests of remotely operated and autonomous vessels have been performed. Thus some companies have had plausible and illustrative demos about autonomous vessels for high seas, eagerness has settled down towards short voyages close to the coast, rivers and city areas. For long term, environmental friendliness and ecological efficiency, might cause restrictions for propulsion power and speed, which might support the struggle towards autonomous and unmanned shipping.

Technology companies and developers have been worried about slow reaction of authorities to get this issue forward, to achieve regulations for autonomous shipping operations. But as seen, local authorities gave permit to test autonomous operations in certain pointed areas. They don’t want to prevent the development progress, but technology drives the way. Around 2015-2020 hype of autonomous ships pushed IMO to concentrate on legislation for autonomous vessels more deeply. Regarding regulation, IMO takes first step to address autonomous ships and defines Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS) in 2018, DNV GL released guidelines for Autonomous and Remotely Operated ships. Now at IMO, there is an evaluation projects for needs and content of regulation for autonomous ships and operations according to their strategic plan 2018-2023.

Automation technology of ship systems lead the way of autonomous maritime operations

Ship system providers develop automation in their own product portfolio and that is probably strongest accelerator in contest of achieving autonomous systems and fighting against challenges in this complicated operating environment. Few years ago, hype of autonomous ships and digital transformation spread in many countries, not least in European countries. There have been several research and development projects, tests and real projects to build autonomous ships as well. Nevertheless, it seem not to be as easy. Well known project “Yara Birkeland”, 120 TEU container vessel, is one example of the complexity of this kind of vessel and operation. Even it is meant to sail only short voyages in restricted area at coast of Norway, the wholeness is still complex. The project is still alive and most probably to be succeeded, but to be postponed. Initial goal was to start operation in 2019 and to be fully autonomous in 2020. The latest published schedule is to be in test run period during 2020, in operation 2021 and fully autonomous in 2022. The hull is already on the way to delivery shipyard for outfitting. The Yara Birkeland is aimed to be  zero emission vessel, and also loading and unloading is planned to be autonomous.

Yara Birkland
Picture 2: Yara Birkeland
https://www.yara.com/news-and-media/media-library/image-library/

MacGregor responded to their customer request to develop an autonomous crane for ESL-Shipping. The autonomous discharging crane system for bulk cargo operates driverless, controlled from the command bridge. That is one impressive example how the wholeness is knitting together by individual equipment and systems, one by one.

Today, there are such a wide range of automated and autonomous systems available, that major players have good opportunities to integrate and deliver all the needed systems for fully autonomous vessels intended for short voyages in restricted areas. Vessels to be more integrated and connected by digitalization, they come more autonomous regardless they have crew on board or not. Lot of effort has been made to develop algorithms and AI. For example, ABB, Wärtsilä and Kongsberg with partners have all the opportunities to achieve this goal in the near future. It is stated in many sources, that autonomous vessels will sail within next few decades. Nevertheless, it will grow up step by step, according to the development of individual system provides. Next steps to be, is to have autonomous systems which supports the crew in their actions and decision making. But in the beginning, crew onboard or at control stations ashore, utilizes the support of autonomous systems and still have the control of the ship. Autonomous shipping and autonomous maritime operations doesn’t only mean the autonomous ship. Fairways and harbor areas have to integrate to wholeness of autonomous operations too, including piloting and VTS control, berthing and cargo operations.

Regardless of the operational format, autonomous, remotely operated/controlled or traditionally operated by crew of the ship, the vessel need to be engineered any way. Elomatic Consulting and Engineering Ltd is looking forward to be a partner for ship owners and shipyards in ship design engineering processes in all phases, meeting future needs.

Elomatic has competitive teams for hull design, outfitting and machinery engineering, and for electricity, automation and interior design as well. Elomatic has also a strong team for visualization and simulation. Personnel of Elomatic consist of versatile experience with strong knowledge of design engineering and project management, and operational experience as well, like deck officers, master mariner (Captain) and maritime engineers with long sailing career.

Kimmo Matikka

Project Manager, Marine & Offshore

Intelligent Engineering

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Does the ship design project benefit from Digital Twin approach?

Author Juhani Kankare
Posted on

I have been thinking what benefits shipowner and yard gets if they start concentrating to digital twin approach at early design phase. At least then virtual ship will be matching the real one more accurately. It will be ready with less effort at the end; when it has been built during the design phase. Project management can follow visually the maturity of the design. But can the ship design project’s decision making also benefit from the digital twin concept?

Safety and Emergency scenarios

For example emergency related scenario animations like safety and evacuation simulations. This information will be beneficial for designing the ship but also later when training the crew. Having good visual animation helps all parties to understand better what kind of issues or bottle necks passengers or crew faces in real life. At the  design phase the designer can find out better solutions when seeing animations from different scenarios to ensuring most secure options.

Smoke and flow simulations

Other example is visual animations from design phases like CFD results of selected technologies. Exhaust gas animation, smoking areas or other similar simulations may help later the crew to understand limitation of activities.

Design reviews, architect reviews

Digital twin supports more effective decisions making due to level of details possible to review. Architect and owner can have a virtually review of different areas like restaurants, casinos or cabins. The  virtual review enables possibility to have many different solutions compared to physical models. It also allows people to use more time with the sample designs due to they can use it at the own office via VR or just from own computer display. The building up virtual sample of areas is much faster and cost efficient way than building in real samples. Also there can be many different solutions in a review when there are no limit of physical space. Later these selected models can be opened and re-check if needed.

Decisions faster and more accurately

Design- and architect reviews are held due to need of making big decisions related to manufacturing and equipment investments. Using digital twin reduces costs and risks due to better understanding of the details and gives more tools to make accurate decision. Having access to design information is good but the ability to visualize information provides additional level of knowledge.

Production phase

Often the design areas are divided to many small parts in case of technology and physical location. It is beneficial to have direct link between production and design houses. Digital twin can be used to point problematic areas with your virtual finger on discussions. The ship builders can manage changes more efficient way when the errors can be corrected faster and even with less bureaucracy.

It can be also set up alerts to some areas or parts to show problems in specific areas between production and design. Project management may follow the progress visually from virtual ship.

Nowadays there are need to set up systems supporting global activities since there can be many limitations to physical meetings. Digital Twin may even allow sometimes reason not to meet when the information is commonly available via cloud to everybody’s terminals.

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Juhani Kankare

Juhani Kankare has worked in consumer electronics, telecommunications and in marine electrical design. Juhani joined Elomatic in early 2019 and holds the position of Design Manager, Ship Electrical Engineering Team at the Elomatic Turku office.

Intelligent Engineering

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Fuel cells

Author Tobias Eriksson
Posted on

The marine industry is well-known to be a significant source of harmful local (NOx, SOx and particulates) and global (mainly CO2 and CH4) emissions. The high emissions are a result of the traditional low grade “bunker fuels” used, which mainly consist of residuals and low-grade distillates.  In recent years, however, public pressure regarding air pollution and climate change has caused governments and authorities to take action to reduce them. As a result, stricter regulations encourage the ship industry to find new clean fuels and/or energy efficient solutions to meet the progressing limits on pollutant emissions.

Making the transition to an alternative fuel in shipping is a major undertaking, but likely required if the set emission reduction goals shall be achieved. As the marine industry is finding itself under pressure on mitigating harmful emissions, it is no longer a question if, but rather when a transition to alternative cleaner fuels will take off. When it realizes, it can offer a good fundament for introducing new alternative technologies for power production onboard. One interesting and potential technology that could play a key role to mitigate harmful local emissions from ships are fuel cells. Fuel cells have, similar to hydrogen experienced a hype cycle before, but thus far the commercialization and widespread interest in marine use has remained low. This, however, could change if new fuels in shipping are to be introduced.

Fuel cells are electrochemical conversion devices that convert the chemical energy of a fuel directly into electrical energy. The process of converting chemical reactions directly into electrical energy offers some unique advantages compared to an internal combustion engine, where conversion of chemical energy goes through thermal and mechanical work before converting into electrical energy. Since there is no combustion involved, fuel cells can produce power with less formation of pollutants. Furthermore, due to the lack of internal moving parts in fuel cells, means they generate very little noise and vibrations during operation. Fuel cells could therefore be an effective solution to also reduce the destructive low-frequency underwater noise radiated from ships machinery, which is known to have both short- and long-term negative consequences on marine life.

A basic fuel cell mainly consists of three active components: two electrodes, i.e. an anode and a cathode, and an electrolyte sandwiched between them. To produce electricity, fuel is fed continuously to the anode, and an oxidizing agent, typically air, is fed to the cathode. The electrochemical reactions take place at the electrodes, producing an electric DC current through the electrolyte. The working principle of a fuel cell resembles a battery. But unlike a battery, which consumes its reactants and oxidant and must be recharged when depleted, a fuel cell will continue to produce electricity as long as fuel and oxygen is supplied to the cell.

Fuel Cell Working Principle
Fuel Cell Working Principle

Fuel cells can be classified into different categories, but the most common classification is based on what electrolyte is used and includes five major groups:

  • Alkaline fuel cell – AFC
  • Phosphoric acid fuel cell – PAFC
  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cell –PEMFC
  • Molten carbonate fuel cell – MCFC
  • Solid oxide fuel cell – SOFC

Regardless of which electrolyte is used, a fuel cell system consist of more components than the fuel cell stack itself. The additional auxiliary components required to generate the electrical power from the stack are often referred to as the balance of plant. The stack and balance of plant together form what is generally referred to as a fuel cell unit, or a fuel cell system.

Forget the typical ship machinery compartment layout. Fuel cells modular design give them some unique features that could revolutionize the conventional shipbuilding. Unlike a combustion engine, fuel cell efficiency and load factor is not dependent on system size, which means the performance of a single cell is not different from a large stack. The excellent modularity means that the range of application from less than 1W power outputs up to multi-MW power generation systems is possible. This neat feature means the power production from fuel cells can be distributed over the ship as smaller units, e.g. one fuel cell module per main fire zone. The advantage of a de-centralized powerplant solution is reduced electricity transport losses and improved redundancy.

Hydrogen would be the ideal choice for fuel cell operation, but the characteristics of hydrogen arguably makes it a challenging fuel for marine use. In general, fuel cells can only utilize fuels that are hydrogen-rich and in gaseous phase. This essentially means that none of the current used bunker fuels (i.e. HFO and MGO) are compatible with fuel cells. Fuel requirements also vary depending on the fuel cell technology but typically, the lower the operating temperature of the fuel cell is, the more stringent are the fuel requirements. The chosen fuel will ultimately decide which fuel cell technology may be suitable to use. With so many different types of ships on the water, however,” no one-solution-fits-all” exist. For instance could the hydrogen-fuelled, low temperature fuel cells such as the PEM-based fuel cells be suitable candidates for ships with short autonomy requirements, e.g. small ferries and river boats. Whereas for deep-sea shipping and ships with high power demand (e.g. cruise ships) on the other hand require significant volumes of fuel onboard, which quite quickly rules out hydrogen as a suitable fuel. For such applications the high temperature fuel cells like the solid oxide or molten carbonate fuel cells could be more viable options, as they are more flexible in fuel choices and could utilize fuels already relevant for shipping, e.g. LNG, methanol, truck diesel, and also ammonia has been proven feasible options. The higher operating temperature of the SOFC and MCFC also means high-quality waste heat can be recovered, which further improves the overall plant efficiency.

Fuel cells are still a novel technology, which also is reflected in their price. They are expensive, and not just slightly, but an order of magnitude too expensive to be competitive. To promote fuel cell development, cost reduction, and market deployment, fuel cells are still dependent on state and federal tax incentive programs to help offset their current high system cost. The two major reasons why fuel cells are so expensive are also closely interlinked: low production volumes and expensive constituent materials (such as platinum in some fuel cells). Without widespread adoption of the technology, prices will remain high. The high cost is also closely related to the relative short lifetime of the current fuel cells stacks, which varies from 2000 up to 40 000 h depending on the technology and application. In marine applications, where the powerplant basically is close to year-round in operation means stack replacements would have to be carried out quite frequently with current expected lifetimes. In several lifecycle analysis, however, fuel cells have proven to be cost-competitive, if the key issues related to the initial high investment costs and expensive periodic stack replacements could be addressed.

Adapting fuel cells to marine applications is technically challenging, but by no means unfeasible. Earlier demonstration projects have proven that majority of the fuel cell technologies are suitable for marine use. The biggest chicken-and-egg problem the fuel cells are facing, however, is the lack of fuel cell compatible fuels in the marine industry. Fuel cell suppliers may therefore not see the marine market large enough to be a strategic and profitable investment, and the interest of developing fuel cells specifically for marine use has not been prioritized. Additionally, there’s the common dilemma for any new and unproven technology that “no one wants to be the first customer, and no one wants to be the second or third either”. To overcome these issues, a deep understanding of the market and a striking idea is needed. At Elomatic, we can help with both, let’s collect the pieces of the chicken-and-egg puzzle together!

Tobias Eriksson

Project Engineer

Intelligent Engineering

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Why Digital Prototype?

Author Karl-Kristian Högström
Posted on

Elomatic and Devecto have developed a method to combine the 3D world and the physics model of a machine together into a realistic digital prototype. In this article, our guest writer Karl-Kristian Högstrom will talk about the method, the technology behind it, and the benefits it offers in R&D.

Minimizing the time spent iterating between development and testing is crucial. Especially when developing complex machinery, where prototype building is a tedious process that requires lots of time. Use of agile methodologies and fail-fast principles in R&D help, but further improvements are needed. Use of digital prototypes can be this next step.

For a digital prototype to be useful, we need to be able to examine it from different points of view – we need both “the look” and “the feel”. 3D models and virtual landscapes offer “the look”. We can evaluate how our machine looks on the inside and outside, and to some extent the usability. The evaluation of performance is not possible with a 3D model alone. However, “The feel” can be obtained by modelling the dynamics of the machine mathematically. By connecting the dynamics model to the 3D model, we can have both the look and the feel in a realistic digital prototype that can be used for testing and evaluation prior to building the physical prototype.

The joint power of Unity and Simulink

There are many proprietary simulation systems available, and there has certainly been a need for simulation systems that are easy to use for a specific purpose. Typical example is a training simulator. However, the development possibilities with a proprietary system are always limited and/or require special knowledge.

Elomatic and Devecto have developed a method called The Link to combine the 3D world and the physics model of the device/machine together into a realistic simulation with commonly used and widely available tools. The 3D world with a realistic landscape is running in Unity. The physical properties of the machine are modeled in Simulink. These two models are connected so that information flows both ways. Unity and Simulink as development tools are improving all the time and the development of a simulation system with them is already very efficient. The system is not limited in any way to a specific purpose, and simulation can be used as a tool in various phases of the product development.

How The Digital Prototype Works
How the Digital Prototype works

The example presented here is an imaginary Terex Fuchs material handling machine. The control system, hydraulics and mechanics of the machine is modeled in Simulink. The machine in virtual landscape is operating in Unity. There is a dashboard that shows values from the machine model such as hydraulic pressures in cylinders. In the dashboard there is a possibility to adjust parameters in the Simulink model. Collisions and other interactions with the virtual environment can flow from Unity to the Simulink model.

Learn more about digital prototypes!

Homepages: The Link – Digital Prototype

 

Upcoming event

Simulink Forum, 12.2.2021 at 9.30-12.30 EET.

Theme: “Using simulation and digital prototypes in different stages of product and development”

Agenda:

  • What is digital prototype? + demo, Harri Laukkanen, Devecto & Jani Moisala, Elomatic
  • Simulation as a part of testing and quality assurance, Antero Salojärvi, Avant Tecno
  • The benefits and the challenges of modelling,   Aleksi Vesala, Valtra
  • Utilizing models in various stages of product and development, TBD Mathworks

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Karl-Kristian Högström

Business Director, South and Marketing
karl-kristian.hogstrom@devecto.com
+358 40 565 4622

Intelligent Engineering

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11/08/2022

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