Karin Andersson och Maria Grahn, Chalmers
Karin Andersson’s and Maria Grahn’s research collaboration focusing on the future of the shipping industry is receiving the 2017 Areas of Advance Award.

Joint research on the future of the shipping industry wins Areas of Advance Award

​Their unique initiative has put Chalmers on the map – and makes the sea a bit “greener”. The 2017 Areas of Advance Award goes to the interdisciplinary project that Karin Andersson and Maria Grahn have built up in the field of renewable fuels and future technologies for the shipping industry.

Chalmers bestows the Areas of Advance Award on interdisciplinary research collaborations that contribute to resolving the great sustainability challenges of the future. One such challenge is the shipping industry, or more specifically the fuels and technology used in it.

“It’s barely been ten years since the shipping industry even developed an interest in sustainability,” says Karin Andersson, researcher in the Mechanics and Maritime Sciences Department. “Suddenly the Swedish shipping industry began talking about a zero-emissions goal, and in a very short time the environmental issue got really hot.”

Maria Grahn and Karin Andersson, Chalmers

Combined knowledge and tools
Up until 2011, Maria Grahn’s research in physical resource theory at the Space, Earth and Environment Department had solely focused on road transports. Then Karin Andersson invited her to present her models and analytical methods for future fuels in a session at the Transport Forum conference. The two scientists realised that the maritime sector had never been analysed that way before, but that there was great interest in “someone” doing it.

“Karin found me,” Grahn says, “and combining her knowledge on ships and shipping with my tools for energy system analysis developed into something really exciting.”
The interdisciplinary collaboration that evolved from the two scientists’ initiative found its home in the Energy and Transport Area of Advance. Over the years funds have been provided from various sources to develop solutions for environmental challenges in the shipping industry in the short and long term. For example, Karin Andersson and Maria Grahn have had people doing their degree projects, doctoral and post-doc students all working jointly at both departments. The overarching structure of the Areas of Advance made it easier to conduct joint activities, which are otherwise difficult to achieve in the academic world.

World-leading system view
The issues they have worked with have primarily come directly from the shipping industry and other heavy industries. They are currently pursuing several projects in parallel that target the challenges that the shipping industry faces from different angles. Some examples are Future Fuels, a project initiated by the Swedish Energy Agency to conduct a long-term study on drop-in fuels; two projects via the F3 Center for renewable fuels on the purification of fuels and on future marine fuels; and a project in collaboration with ScandiNAOS, involving adapting a pilot boat to run on methanol.

“We're the people that various players turn to when they need the big picture and a system approach,” says Maria Grahn. “We’re the leaders in Sweden, and perhaps the world, in that field. We are putting Chalmers on the map as the only research team in the world analysing fuel challenges in the shipping industry from a global, long-term energy system perspective.”

About the Area of Advance Award
With the Areas of Advance Award, the leadership at Chalmers wants to reward people who have made significant contributions to interdisciplinary collaborations and who, in the spirit of the Areas of Advance, integrate research, education and utilisation. The award will be bestowed during the doctoral degree ceremony on 6 May 2017.

Text: Carolina Svensson
Photo and video: Johan Bodell

Published: Fri 19 May 2017.