Sustainable Solutions at Sea: A Teenager Scientist's Algorithm Paves the Way for Greener Oil Transportation

Greener Oil Transportation

From 2017, the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related with crude oil transportation are over 216 million metric tons, similar to the US cattle industry. Crude oil needs to be heated during transportation, and heating contributes a significant portion in this emission. A high school student has an algorithm that can reduce heating emissions by 7%.

In transportation, keeping crude oil at the proper temperature is critical. However, the existing tanker heating system has a series of problems during the heating process. Heating is not based on detailed thermal energy calculation, resulting in huge energy consumption; it is difficult for vessels to adjust heating in time according to the external environment during voyage; and the heating process often relies on the experience of engineers, which may be inaccurate. This makes crude oil susceptible to temperature effects and quality degradation during transportation, sometimes irreversibly.

In response to this industry-wide problem, a young scientist, Mr. Warren Zhang, founder and director of Ideal Thermal Technology Ltd. in the UK, brought a solution to the problem through an oil tank heating system algorithm based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. Breakthrough changes. Mr. Zhang is currently a high school student studying A-Level courses, but his passion for mathematical modelling, computational simulation, and fluid dynamics has taken him to university level in these fields. This innovation is not his first attempt; he has been working on several other energy-saving research projects over the years and has two pending patents for his innovation.

Mr. Zhang's algorithm includes boiler module, oil tank module, pipeline module and integration module. Among them, the boiler module is used to evaluate the fuel demand of the boiler system, the oil tank module analyses the interaction in the cargo tank under actual operating conditions through 3D CFD simulation, and the piping module calculates heat transfer in the piping system and tracks the heat loss in the system. These modules are considered together to form an integrated module for developing algorithms that provide energy optimization strategies for the entire cargo heating system. For example, the specific steps of the pipeline module include geometric research on the entire pipeline system, establishment of models for theoretical analysis, MATLAB coding, CFD verification using ANSYS FLUENT, and database construction consisting of multiple parameter cases. Integrated module involves further interpolation algorithms, Excel Visual Basic Application (VBA) coding, user interface design and client operating procedures.

In 2022, Mr. Zhang established his own company, Ideal Thermal Technology Ltd., with the aim of commercializing his idea. Subsequently, in 2023, he successfully sold this innovation to Synergy Group, the world's biggest oil tanker management company based in Denmark and Singapore. A check with Synergy Group's Singapore headquarters revealed that his algorithm had been tested on a 13,500 DWT ship transporting palm oil, which also required heating to avoid gelling. Test results show that Mr. Zhang's algorithm can save up to 7% of fuel during the entire heating process. As a next step, the technology will be used on six newbuilding vessels, each of which will be an 18,500 DWT intermediate oil tanker.

In this challenging Mr. Zhang has developed an algorithm that utilizes mathematical modelling and machine learning to optimize heating settings in tankers, enhancing energy efficiency. This innovation has shown promising results in real-world testing and is poised to revolutionize the oil transportation industry by reducing its environmental impact. Mr. Zhang's work is notable not only for its technical brilliance but also for his commitment to environmental sustainability. Remarkably, he has achieved this significant breakthrough while still in high school, highlighting the increasing role of young innovators in addressing global challenges and shaping the future of technology.

Mr. Zhang, a young innovator, is making strides in environmentally friendly technology, focusing on reducing the carbon footprint in global oil transportation. His innovative algorithms have revolutionized the field, showcasing the potential of young scientists to integrate eco-friendly technologies into traditional industries. His work exemplifies the significant role of emerging leaders in driving sustainable innovation across various sectors, highlighting a promising future led by the dedication and ingenuity of young scientists like him.