The Blue Sky Maritime Coalition (BSMC) in conjunction with the Vanderbilt University Climate Change Initiative has released a new report which highlights the identified pathways and approaches to optimize technologies and operations to accelerate GHG emissions reductions in the maritime sector.
The report spotlights the main technologies and techniques that can be applied for optimized vessel operations including, hull optimization approaches, addition of waste heat recovery systems, speed and routing optimization and the application of digitalization and advanced technologies.
#1 Hull optimization
- Hull design. Advanced automated modeling simulations and even artificial intelligence can be used to support both design and performance testing through computational fluid dynamics before a vessel is constructed in the “real world.” Designing or retrofitting a vessel with a bulbous bow can also offer fuel savings on larger vessels depending on the vessel’s operational profile.
- Interceptor trim plates. These can be installed either on new-build vessels or retrofitted on existing vessels and have the advantage (where automated) of engaging when the operational parameters of the vessel can be improved. The plates are installed at the rear of the hull and direct the high pressure flow from the vessel downward, creating lift. However, the plates are less effective at slower speeds.
- Hull coatings. High performance hull coatings can be used on all vessel types and reduce the hull’s resistance in the water, improving fuel efficiency. Older ships may require hull sandblasting to smooth the surface prior to coatings.
- Hull cleaning. The growth of algae and shellfish on the surface of the hull increase the vessel’s drag and reduce fuel efficiencies. Physical corrosion of the surface also can increase friction and reduce fuel efficiency
- Air lubrication. This relatively new technology directs air bubbles down and across the underside of the vessel, reducing drag, but is not suited to all vessel types.
#2 Waste Heat Recovery Systems
Waste Heat Recovery Systems (WHRC) recover and use heat that is generated by existing vessel systems and otherwise lost. Heat can be collected from exhaust gases, excess steam, or cooling water and used to generate electricity on board, typically for auxiliary engines that would otherwise rely on marine diesel fuel.
#3 Optimizing operations
- Speed (or “slow steaming”). It is well accepted that in some operating conditions speed reductions will realize substantial fuel savings and carbon emissions reductions. However, there is a lack of agreement in quantifying the extent of that benefit.
- Routing. Ship operators can revise planned routes to minimize water and air resistance from these forces, reducing fuel consumption. Combining routing factors with arrival time considerations (such as berth availability or contractual obligations for cargo delivery) can balance and optimize fuel savings and economics.
- Wind or solar propulsion assistance. Wind and solar can be used to increase the efficiency of fossil-fuel based propulsion systems. Adding kite sails to existing vessels can reduce the power demand from engines and may save fuel, but will likely only be feasible on smaller vessels where sustained directional wind is available. Similarly, adding photovoltaic cells can reduce onboard power needs but will require adequate vessel space for installation and routes with high solar potential
- Reducing onboard power needs. Energy modeling can assist operators identify and reduce energy inefficiencies associated with heat loss, HVAC operations, lighting, and more.
- Optimizing maintenance schedules. Intervals between certain maintenance activities (such as hull cleaning) can be optimized with fuel consumption impacts in mind.
Some emerging and future digitalization technologies include:
- Big data analytics. The vast amount of data collected through sensors can be used to develop machine learning models that can in turn recognize patterns and use algorithms to make vessel operations more efficient, faster, and more environmentally friendly—either as recommendations to operators or entirely automated.
- Advanced simulation technologies. Using vessel information combined with modeling techniques, impacts on vessel operations (or structures) from a range of stimuli (vessel traffic, weather or waves, port congestion, etc.) can be projected in advance to enable re-routing or other operational changes that result in increased efficiency, safety, and eventually, automated operations.
- Blockchain. Blockchain has potential to impact the accuracy and speed of cargo movements between ships as well as cargo loading and off-loading, reducing vessel time in harbor (and associated power use), and creating efficiency and security in the financial transactions between customer, ports, and operators.
- On-board 3-D Printing. Vessels in need of parts or tools could print them as needed on the vessel, reducing the need to carry spare parts and assuring immediate replacement/repair contributing to continued, efficiency operations.
Energy efficiency measures combined with digital innovation to drive vessel optimization will continue to serve as a central component to any decarbonization strategy
… said David Cummins, BSMC President and CEO.
Mrs Maria Polakis, Former Lead of Blue Sky’s Finance Commercial & Chartering Workstream, had also highlighted the importance of the decarbonization of shipping in an exclusive interview with SAFETY4SEA. She had pointed out that Blue Sky’s objective is to support significant near-term reductions in GHG emissions and accelerate the industry toward commercially viable, net-zero emissions shipping. A key priority is to encourage innovation and accelerate the needed investments in vessels, infrastructure and pilot projects that will achieve this objective.
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