A device that stabilises ocean wave load on mechanised boats and boosts fuel efficiency holds out promise of significantly bringing down fishermenâ€™s diesel expenses.
The Dynamic Energy System developed by the Chennai-based EcoSail Enterprises has been tried successfully on fishing vessels along the coasts of Puducherry, Ervadi, Rameswaram and Chennai.
â€śThe device, which is fitted on the anterior portion of the engine, acts as a shock absorber of sorts by offsetting the pressure from waves and thereby reducing fuel consumption,â€ť said Cecil Manohar Daniel, chief engineer of EcoSail, which focuses on developing technology solutions for the fishing industry under the â€śBlue Revolutionâ€™ (Neel Kranti Mission).
During trials, owners of wooden, steel and fibre vessels reported 20-30 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, which translated into a cost saving of between â‚ą75,000 to â‚ą1 lakh a month.
â€śThis is a significant savings for fishermen for whom diesel costs account for a large portion of the â‚ą3-4 lakh investment required for a deep sea fishing routine that could last between a week to 21 days,â€ť said M. Ilango, Chairman, National Fisherfolk Forum.
Considering that most of this amount is taken from loan sharks, popularising the device could also help free fisherfolk from the debt trap, he added.
For over two years, researchers at EcoSail extensively studied European technical literature, especially from Denmark, on the tidal dynamics and fuel efficiency correlation and how those findings were incorporated in vessel design improvements.
â€śIn fishing boats in the West, such devices are built into the power train from engine to propellers. However, we found that while developing a similar system for India, we had to factor in the differences in ocean wave dynamics in our region vis-a-vis the Mediterranean and customise the device accordingly,â€ť said Mr. Daniel.
Application engineers pointed to the volatile variations of high wave loads on boat engines within a 60-second span which result in sharp diesel engine speeds and the rate of fuel consumed. The role of the DES is to smoothen out these fluctuations and their impact on the engine efficiency.
Apart from returning consistent fuel saving ratios in tests carried out in calm and rough sea conditions, the DES, which also incorporates electronic components to measure wave load and speed, was also found to significantly lower the emission levels, Mr. Daniel said.
During the tests, diesel savings was in the 12-20 per cent range in 120 hp boats, 15 to 27 per cent in 190 hp boats and 15 to 22 per cent in 230 hp vessels.
A distinctive feature here was the lack of standards for fishing vessels made of different materials. Indian boats are essentially an assemblage of Indian engines, Chinese gear boxes and locally manufactured propellers â€” the optimal balance of the primary components determining fuel efficiency.
â€śAfter the device was fitted into three boats, we could achieve about 25 per cent fuel savings on the 20 litres of diesel required for an hour of fishing operations,â€ť said A. Kangeyan, a boat owner in Veerampattinam and former president of the Puducherry Fibre Boat Owners Association.
Other boat-owners like Ernastine in Ervadi and Phylane in Ramanathapuram also found the device useful in lowering fuel costs.
The DES is the first of a triad of products proposed to be customised â€” the next redesign focus would be on the propeller and the hull. The company is looking to seek collaboration with the mechanical engineering department of the IIT-Madras for this.
Besides, it is exploring tie-ups with Australian and Canadian boat industries for evolving standards for Indian fishing vessels.
The National Fisherfolk Forum chairman M. Ilango has urged the Central and State Governments to include the device, which costs about â‚ą1.40 lakh, in the various subsidy schemes for fishermen community.
He suggested that the Governments distribute the equipment at a 50 per cent subsidy as it has not heeded to the long-standing demand of various fishermen organisations to provide fishermen diesel â€” the biggest recurring expenditure-â€” at cost price.
An estimated 2 lakh mechanised boats are being operated across the country. â€śWeâ€™re in touch with the Centre and Governments in 13 coastal States regarding this,â€ť Mr. Ilango said.