Instant fire detection on open cargo decks on roll-on/roll-off vessels

Stena Line open innovation challenge 

Main Content

We are seeking novel approaches to instantly detect fires on cargo as it is brought on board our vessels, or instantly detect fires that break out on cargo while on board our vessels. We are especially interested in approaches for open cargo spaces where traditional detection methods (smoke detectors, temperature sensors) are less reliable.

At the same time, existing fire detection systems are also plagued by a high rate of false alarms. Therefore, we are seeking increased speed reliability of fire detection.

What's the challenge?

The companies comprising the Swedish-based represent the one of the largest private shipping groups in the world. We are seeking solutions that can be applied to cargo and passenger ships that travel in all of the world's oceans.

Cargo fires that break out on open or semi-open decks are especially challenging to control because of the unrestricted access of oxygen to the fuel source. Common fire containment measures - for example, water quench, chemical systems, foam systems - are less effective in these areas than in smaller, enclosed spaces.

Traditional fire detection methods are less reliable on open or semi-open cargo decks because the free flow of air on these decks either dilutes the smoke/heat or transports the smoke to sensors away from its source. Also, these detection methods require a sizable fire to create sufficient heat/smoke to trigger the sensor, at which point the fire is already difficult to control. Another challenge is that fires can start deep inside the enclosed spaces of cargo containers, trapping the smoke and heat that could otherwise trigger an alarm.

Visual detection of the location of the source of flames is also difficult because of the limited line-of-sight to cargo containers in the cargo hold.

Do you have the solution?

Stena is interested in solutions that go beyond currently available detection system used in the marine industry today. Stena is seeking, for example, alternative approaches that can detect the common by-products of thermal decomposition at low concentrations.  We are also interested in thermal imaging or similar systems that can detect small changes in cargo temperature, thereby predicting the onset of a fire in a cargo hold. Moreover, it would be ideal if the system could be agile enough to focus detection on pre-identified higher risk cargo.

It would also be ideal if the detector can replace or be integrated with existing detection systems, and remote wireless fire detectors can be integrated with the ship's fire alarm system.

Evaluation criteria

Technical viability - Solutions proposed must be based on sound scientific principles and have laboratory or pilot scale data that demonstrate efficacy.

Scale-up potential - Solutions proposed must have a clear pathway to be application on commercial ships. Solutions already practiced in marine markets have higher value. The ideal partner would be able to lead the design and installation of full-scale systems.

Costs - Solutions would need to be reasonably cost effective to install and operate. Moreover, solutions should not require additional staffing or increase port turnaround time.  

Ownership - Solutions covered by patents have higher value. At a minimum, proposed solutions must not be prohibited by other patents in the field.

Killer issues - Solutions will not be considered if, in Stena’s opinion:

  • Installation and maintenance costs should not be prohibitive for broad application
  • Proposals lack sufficient supporting laboratory or pilot scale data
  • Solutions don’t adhere to global maritime regulations

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