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Management of Cargo Heating Systems for Oil Tankers

Technology Overview

Heating of liquid cargo at sea, such as crude oil and temperature-dependent products, are needed to ensure the cargo remains fluid during the voyages for loading and offloading. These operations consume a huge amount of energy and significantly impact the consumption of boiler fuel onboard oil tank. Currently, most cargo heating operation, including the stocking of fuel oil, are manually controlled and calculated by ship crew based on their experience and past records. Limited tools are available to estimate fuel oil consumption and plan a proper operation for cargo heating, which results in excess fuel consumption due to over- or under-heating of the cargo.

Based in Singapore, the technology owner has developed a software with user-friendly interface, based on thermodynamics theory, to manage the cargo heating operation for heated-cargo tanker operator. A fast optimisation algorithm for the cargo heating system, which encompasses the boilers, cargo tanks and pipelines, can provide an optimum and accurate setting for cargo heating operation during transportation of crude oil. This is achieved via the software tool that executes the optimisation algorithm, and eventually achieved fuel and cost saving.

The technology owner is seeking industry partners to adopt and license the software with the optimised algorithm, to further co-develop a software solution or to integrate it as an additional feature into existing performance monitoring and optimisation tools for cargo heating operation.

Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

  • The optimization algorithm developed for the cargo heating system includes boiler, tank and pipeline modules. In the boiler module, the capability of the boiler during the voyage is computed based on thermodynamics principles.
  • For the tank modules, 2- and 3-dimensional simulations and theoretical studies are conducted, and the influences of the cargo tank shell thickness, oil volume and nitrogen layer in the tanks are also considered. For the pipeline module, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations are used to validate the analytical model developed for the pipelines.
  • Finally, the three modules are coupled together to form a fully integrated core module, which includes an optimisation algorithm related to the heat transfer of the boilers, cargo tanks, and pipelines.
  • The computational software as cargo heating management system is implemented in Excel Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programme platform.
  • Systematic validation of the software is conducted with the real-world data provided by industrial collaborator and partners, which are leading energy logistics solutions companies.
  • Compared with few similar technologies currently existing in market, the present technology may potentially achieve higher predicted accuracy of fuel oil consumption and thus cost saving, as well as making multiscale optimisations before and during cargo transportation.

Potential Applications

  • The cargo heating management software can help tanker operators optimise their fuel usage and heating operation while fulfilling their obligation to cargo owners to maintain the specific temperature for the temperature sensitive cargo during voyage.
  • The software can be integrated to existing performance monitoring and optimisation tools for fuel saving on board relevant marine vessels such as tankers carrying petroleum or edible oil cargoes.

Customer Benefit

  • In addition to the current market of heating crude and edible oil cargo, with maritime decarbonisation high on the agenda, it foreseeable that there will be an increased in the shipment of biofuel around the world. The ability to properly manage the thermal handling of this product range for tankers will be increasingly important.
  • The cargo heating management software opens up an opportunity for software-based fuel saving, an effective tool to aid the operational measures of accurately heating cargoes.
Contact Person

Wye Boon Loh


NTU - NTUitive >> Water - Energy - Waste

Technology Category

  • Energy
  • Thermal System

Technology Readiness Level


Cargo Heating Systems