Bangladeshi Marine Community, Singapore

Bangladeshi Marine Community, Singapore

The Butterfly Effect: Making Every Drop Counts

(Steps Toward Energy Efficiency of Ships)


Abu Hasan Rony

Energy Manager, Eaglestar Marines (S) Pte Ltd


Anatomically it took about 200,000 years to evolve an intelligent species like humans who had triumphed over other species and conquered the world. So far, we found no other habitable place in the universe yet, so that we could endure and extend our empire to the outer space. Of course, our expedition for new life into the galaxies continues each day we expand our horizon with new technology and discoveries. It is the time to ask, where are we heading? Abandon and Escape? Unfortunately, still it looks impossible, but, Climate Change-Clock is ticking. How much time we have here? Hurry-up!!

Fossil fuel is one important that keeping the civilization moving till today. Todays, energy scarcity is so critical that most of the modern wars can be somehow related to energy. Every country is feeling the bite of energy now. With the growing economic activities, mankind needs a clean and abundant source of energy for its existence. Greenhouse gas skyrocketing while increasing the effect of climate change- i.e., icecap melting, sea level rise, and many weather severities around globe. We should be alarmed by the environmental concerns today than ever before. There is no alternatives of taking lean approach for saving our planet which manifests as minimizing wastage and improving sustainably utilizing every bit and drop of resources, products and services are accounted for promoting greener activities in the world. A tiny amount of saving of mother earth’s resources gives a positive impact on our environmental footprint which can be appreciated as the butterfly effect.

The butterfly effects

Edward Lorenz, in 1950 developed the chaos theory which describes the butterfly effect representing the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The concept is imagined with a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a typhoon. Of course, a single act like the butterfly flapping its wings cannot cause a typhoon. A small event can act as a catalyst at the outset of an event and have a greater impact on the later stage along the time towards the final product of the event.

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For want of a horse the rider was lost,

For want of a rider the battle was lost,

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail”.

Here, the absence of horseshoe nail indirectly caused the loss of a war.  We may think that only big thing can cause a big impact and change the world, like big nukes, a giant storm and earthquakes. But the idea has changed in modern time. The things that change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of a continent.

The butterfly is a symbolic representation of an unknowable quantity. It is very difficult to estimate the effect of a catalyst at an initial stage what would be the effect on the trajectory at the final result. Knowing the precise starting condition is impossible. Likewise, our efforts and today’s simple and single action on preserving and conserving nature may contribute to saving millions of life thousands of years down the road

Water Scarcity

The word water scarcity reminds me of the stranded sailor from the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge,

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.

Where we can see an albatross came and lead the way out from ice jammed sea, the ship’s crew liked the Albatross but the Mariner shoot the bird down. Eventually, all of them fall into deadly suffering, one by one all crew dies, but the mariner lives to see the curse for seven days and nights, not a drop to drink from the slimy sea. However, finally, the mariner’s curse was lifted for loving a living creature moving on the sea.

The story tells us a lot about saving the mother nature. The Albatross here can be depicted as nature. We, the mariner, all are responsible for deliberately killing our mother nature, thus, welcoming death, sorrows, and punishment into our fate. We, the humans, are responsible for the irreversible damage to the climate.

Likewise, the alarming story of water scarcity continues, according to the UN database, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population and is projected to rise who are still deprived of access to improved water sources. Also, at least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated. About 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines. We are still far away from sustainable use of water source until today more than 80 percent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or sea without any pollution removal. Moreover, like the sufferings of the sailors on the stranded ship, each day nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases.

Minimizing water waste and conservation are most important for minimizing water usage on board vessels. “There is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.

The followings are things we do to help to save water: 

  1. Raise awareness for more thoughtful and responsible when using water for washing dishes, clothing, showers, etc.
  2. Report any water leakages in taps or toilet system.
  3. Repair leakages identified
  4. Ensure maintenance to freshwater cooling system(s) are in good order.    5.  Exercise individual responsibility.

Fuel Efficiency of Ships

Maritime industry is driven by the regulations developed by the IMO or localized regulatory bodies with special requirements with respect to safety and environment. Although, the maritime emission is only 2.8% of the Global emission, the industry needs to improve a lot to align with UN’s 1.50C targets. During the last decades, technological incorporation towards reducing the carbon footprint of ships made a significant progress, however, still we have a long way to go. We are now talking about Zero Emission vessels for longer sailing vessels. Zero Emission Vessels will be available as early as 2027. Probably, these technologies, such as, Hydrogen, Ammonia or Nuclear power will take another decade to get massive uptake by the industry.  However, we have to act fast as our time is running out and we are heading towards irreversible climate change.

With the introduction of Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) in 2012 by IMO, the maritime industry observed vessels got 30% to 40% more efficient than pre-EEDI vessels. Similarly, Energy Efficiency Index for Existing Ships (EEXI) and Carbon Intensity Index (CII) shall contribute to greater reduction of the GHG in shipping. IMO’s GHG strategy of reducing 40% of the intensity by 2030 and 50% reduction of carbon intensity by 2050 will make a paradigm shift with respect to the emissions.

While industry if going through the shift, everyone has their contribution to make. We need to remember that we have nowhere to go except mother earth. One metric ton of fuel produces more than three metric tons of CO2 when burnt in engines. Imagine, how much CO2 we are putting on the atmosphere each day.

Like the butterfly effect, small behavioral changes really can make a significant difference with respect to fuel saving. Making sure of small things, such as, avoid excessive steam dumping, stopping pumps when not in use, maintaining consistent ship speed, avoid running generators on low loads., etc.  Cumulative effects of these small changes really can make huge impact on emissions. Maintaining high efficiency reheating steam cycle, waste heat recovery systems on vessels with significant use of water on steam propulsion turbines and power generation is challenging and more crucial for efficient operations and in the same way scalable savings.

Your Action Matters

Today, billions of people are still living without safe water. Marginalized groups are often overlooked and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need. In an organizational level, corporate and every individual’s actions influencing the use of resources needs to be controlled and monitored and designed towards making a positive contribution so that everybody can benefit.  Be it water conservation or energy saving, our cumulative efforts of millions and todays’ small steps will contribute to maintain our legacy in this world.

Abu Hasan Rony (33), Energy Manager, Eaglestar Marines (S) Pte Ltd, CEM, CEng, CMarEng, MIMarEST. He is looking after energy management system towards the reduction of Carbon Dioxide emissions for over 100 ships. He manages petroleum tankers, chemical tankers, and LNG vessels including DP shuttle tankers owned by AET and MISC.


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