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Case Study

“Both experiments reduced fuel consumption by around 23% and 12% respectively,“ said Eayrs, “but a somewhat unexpected outcome was how much attention the captains were paying to the fuel meter. Both captains, for the first time, could now see exactly how much fuel they were burning and the effect of throttle changes or gear modification, and they really began to think hard about ways to reduce fuel costs.”

F/V Lisa Ann II, Newburyport, MA

Captain Jim Ford’s Lisa Ann II, a 56’ steel trawler powered by a single 3406 Caterpillar diesel, was one of the first vessels equipped with a FloScan system for gear modification tests. Ford is an innovative skipper who has been using semi-pelagic trawl doors to provide fuel savings and reduce habitat interactions for several years. “Jim was one of the first in the fishery to use these doors,” says Eayrs, “and so we were interested in comparing their performance against traditional bottom-tending doors.

The doors of a trawl spread the opening of the net to its full width. In the case of bottom tending nets the doors come in contact with the sea floor during towing, but Ford suggested using lighter, more hydrodynamically efficient doors associated with midwater trawls for some groundfish species. A FloScan system was installed on the vessel with a 9000 series gauge at the helm and a FloNET hub to link to a laptop. The doors cost $20,000 and the tests revolved around the effectiveness of the system on target species and the return on investment in purchasing the doors. The modified trawl performed admirably and FloScan proved the return on investment was just over one year through savings in fuel costs associated with the easier to tow doors.

Between tests Captain Ford used his FloScan gauge at the helm to adjust his cruising speeds and save fuel while steaming. “I found that by cutting back my steaming RPM just a little I could maintain the same speed and reduce the GPH burn,” he said. “I was surprised to see I could drop fuel consumption from 7-1/2 to 8 GPH to 6-1/2 GPH.” That’s a significant savings when you consider a trawler spends a good deal of its time transiting to and from the fishing grounds.

New Hampshire SeaGrant

Erik Chapman of New Hampshire SeaGrant, who works out of the University of New Hampshire, had some experience with fuel flow meters and took a lead role at GEARNET in identifying the equipment they needed and how it could be incorporated into the research. Initial purchases from FloScan has evolved into a partnership between GEARNET researchers, FloScan’s sales and technical personnel and the captains and owners of vessels involved in the research.

“Hydrogen fuel assist and most additives simply didn’t work satisfactorily and prop tuning provided minimal benefits, but the captains using the FloScan systems found one thing that did provide substantial, repeatable reductions in fuel consumption and that was using FloScan’s instantaneous GPH/MPG readouts to alter the way they operated their vessels.”
—Erik Chapman
New Hampshire SeaGrant

Some of the earliest projects that incorporated FloScan fuel monitoring equipment and the FloNET NMEA 2000 Network Hub revolved around finding ways to reduce overall fuel consumption on fishing vessels. Prior to GEARNET, Chapman spearheaded a Green Fit project that included experiments with propeller tuning, fuel additives and even an exotic hydrogen injection fuel assist system. FloScan technology was used to determine if these products and concepts worked in the real world providing a quantifiable return on investment.

“Most of the Green Fit experiments provided disappointing results as measured using FloScan equipment and our early data logging programs.” Chapman reported.

It came to light that not only were the FloScan systems instrumental in identifying positive or negative benefits during Green Fit and gear testing projects, but captains began using them to identify the optimal operating speeds for their vessels during regular fishing trips. They quickly

 
 
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