Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Southampton engineers are partnering with industry to use AI to improve the efficiency of shipping

Published: 1 December 2021

A partnership between Engineering at the University of Southampton and a leading maritime clean technology company is exploring an artificial intelligence (AI) solution to improving the efficiency of shipping. 

The Innovate UK-supported knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) is enabling Maritime Engineering research to be used to enhance the performance of Silverstream Technologies’ innovative Silverstream® System – a market-leading air lubrication system (ALS) that can be fitted to new and existing vessels to reduce energy consumption and associated emissions. 

Lead academic Professor Dominic Hudson, Southampton’s Shell Professor of Ship Safety and Efficiency and Head of the Centre for Maritime Futures, says: “We are developing and using machine-learning techniques to better optimise the airflow to the Silverstream System, which will further reduce ships’ fuel consumption and hence emissions such as CO2. If these techniques are deployed across multiple vessels, then the emissions reductions will be significant.” 

Dr Adam Sobey, Associate Professor in the Maritime Engineering group, is the project’s academic supervisor, while Southampton PhD alumnus and KTP Associate Dr Josef Camilleri provides the main link between the University and Silverstream. Josef says: “The KTP is an excellent opportunity to apply the latest academic research and thinking to solving a real-world problem and helping the shipping industry achieve its Net Zero targets. The challenge of applying air lubrication to a ship is complex, with many interrelated variables. 

“In this project, we are looking at using machine learning techniques to learn these complex relationships, not only to get a better understanding of the Silverstream® System’s behaviour, but also to optimise its performance across a wide range of operational and environmental conditions. It’s a fascinating project to be a part of and I’m very pleased to be working at Silverstream at such an exciting time in its growth journey.” 

The KTP derived from previous consultancy work in 2018 between the Maritime Engineering group and Silverstream Technologies that investigated the potential of machine-learning to model the power prediction and effects of the system. 

Dominic adds: “I have worked with Silverstream Technologies since late 2014, through Shell Shipping and Maritime and in my role as Shell Professor of Ship Safety and Efficiency, so we were aware of their system and its capabilities, as well as the potential to work more closely with them. The consultancy work we carried out successfully demonstrated the feasibility of the methodology and led to the KTP being agreed to develop their air flow control system. 

“KTPs provide a great route for real-world impact of academic research. This partnership will not only benefit Silverstream, but will also impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions from shipping and therefore provide societal benefits. Our closer working relationship is realising opportunities for more engagements and opening possibilities for future research projects. Already, we are running two undergraduate individual research projects that are supported by Silverstream and have carried out an EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account funded project to investigate the feasibility of using computational fluid dynamics to improve the design of the air release units and further increase net power savings from the Silverstream System. 

The KTP between Maritime Engineering and Silverstream runs until October 2022.


Privacy Settings