ALBERO project seeks to enable safe transport for EVs and more on ro-ro ferries

Electric powered autos are booming, with additional than a million on German roadways as of this yr. This, in convert, suggests that an rising number of option-fueled autos are transported on roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ferries. However, there are certain ailments associated with touring at sea, these kinds of as the sea state, salt stages and humidity of the air, cramped areas and shut motor vehicle decks. This, in combination with the unique attributes of and risks linked with substitute-fueled motor vehicles, signifies that delivery organizations and ship crews will have to be well prepared for sure troubles.

An growing range of choice-fueled cars are transported via ferries. Transport corporations this sort of as Stena Line ought to answer to this progress by applying new safety systems on board. © Stena Line GmbH & Co. KG


Vehicles are normally on shut auto decks in the course of transportation. This presents rise to new potential threats, as a variety of mishaps have now proven: In February 2022, Felicity Ace, a cargo ship, caught hearth and sank. There have been about 4,000 automobiles on board. These incorporated quite a few plug-in hybrids and purely electric-run cars and trucks with crafted-in lithium-ion batteries, which intricate firefighting attempts. The batteries in an mysterious quantity of electric motor vehicles experienced caught fireplace on board this roll-on/roll-off ship.

Back in November 2011, an electrically run Nissan caught fire on the auto deck of the Pearl of Scandinavia ferry. An investigation disclosed that the fire broke out even though the vehicle was charging. As a final result, the delivery firm prohibited charging throughout crossings. Incidents this kind of as these motivated the lover corporations to start a job wanting into ways to enhance basic safety when transporting option fueled motor vehicles.

In ALBERO, a exploration undertaking by the German Federal Ministry of Schooling and Analysis (BMBF), a research crew from the Fraunhofer Institute for Conversation, Facts Processing and Ergonomics FKIE is doing work with associates to produce techniques and systems to integrate safely choice fueled automobiles into roll-on/roll-off ferry targeted visitors.

In addition, they collaborated with a variety of associates to produce steps to help risk-free transportation and charging of cars during sea crossings, which also took into account autos powered by alternative fuels these as natural gasoline and hydrogen.

For some time now, in addition to regular autos, gas-driven and electrically powered motor vehicles have more and more had to be transported on roll-on/roll-off ships. This involves new security procedures on board. The one of a kind situations on ferries build a specific want for action these include the cars being parked carefully together, which would make them hard to access, the amplified risk of a fireplace spreading, unpredictable temperature problems, the vibrations of the ship and much additional.

—Lerke Thiele, a researcher at Fraunhofer FKIE

An assessment by a project spouse showed that the danger of a fire spreading to the surrounding region is higher with electric powered automobiles than with standard cars. And there are additional complicated challenges to the overall health of unexpected emergency personnel and bystanders. If the battery malfunctions and catches fire, it can launch poisonous gases.

—Nina Rößler, Fraunhofer FKIE

A joint task with the Institut für Sicherheitstechnik und Schiffssicherheit e. V. (German Institute for Protected Engineering and Ship Safety), the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg College of Applied Sciences, the Investigate Institute for Automotive Engineering and Powertrain Programs Stuttgart, GTE Industrieelektronik GmbH and Lloyd’s Sign-up centered on both equally battery-driven motor vehicles and alternate fuels such as normal gas (liquid and compressed all-natural gasoline), liquefied petroleum fuel and hydrogen.

In this challenge, funded by the BMBF as element of its “Civil stability – Transportation infrastructure” discipline, researchers produced technical, structural and organizational actions to strengthen protection when transporting the automobiles and—for electric powered vehicles—when charging them through the voyage. As properly as ideal strategies for pre-sorting in the course of boarding, they intended distinctive parking spaces and loading decks that have progressive threat detection and security programs. For case in point, the scheduling procedure, pre-sorting system and visitors administration program had been integrated into the parking place layout.

Recommendations were also designed for the placement of cars on board, and visual representations of their spots and drive styles were made for the crew on the bridge. The options for detecting and extinguishing fires took into account fire detection systems this kind of as gasoline sensors, temperature monitors and numerous firefighting coaching classes specially developed for substitute fueled automobiles. The tips are supplemented with structural hearth protection approaches (e.g. partitions, air flow, explosion protection), tips for appropriate steps to be taken in the event of an accident and necessities for harmless loading, having into account the unique conditions on board.

Arranging best placement and fire avoidance for different fueled vehicles is a sophisticated matter. Our job was to structure a boarding method and create a pre-sorting approach at the port contemplating these variables. On board, appropriate details is transferred to the LoMoSS (Load Checking Assist System) details system for which we formulated a protoype. This scenario-reporting process also supplies help in final decision-making we applied and evaluated the procedure employing very low and significant fidelity prototypes. It lets us to visually represent vehicles’ precise parking positions.

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The LoMoSS data system’s person interface.


An essential ingredient of LoMoSS is that, after passengers disclose their vehicle’s drive form when booking, this facts is recorded in the booking process and linked to the vehicle’s license plate. In the circumstance of fast threat, it can also recognize the proprietor or cabin number—loading officers stated that this was a notably critical prerequisite.

—Lerke Thiele

The scientists took a human-centered solution to planning the consumer interface the possible conclude people ended up intently included in this iterative technique.

Upcoming, the scientists hope to use LoMoSS to routinely record vehicles’ precise parking positions. An industry spouse has presently revealed interest in establishing a module for this objective.