Thursday, August 30, 2018

Air Lubrication for New RoRo Vessels as Merchant Shipping Again Drives Technology Forward

Bubble Reduce Friction and Improve Fuel Consumption and Emissions
Shipping News Feature
ITALY – UK – There is no doubt that, as with the space race and the demands of wartime, the merchant shipping industry drives technology as the business of moving passengers and freight around the world gets ever more competitive. Once it was all about speed, getting the cargo to its destination as quickly as possible, now the impetus has shifted to greener, more efficient ships, vessels producing fewer emissions whilst using less fuel.

One idea which at first sight might seem to have come from the scribbling’s of a mad scientist is that of passing a curtain of air bubbles under the hull of a vessel to reduce its drag coefficient using ‘hydrostatic reduction’. And yet for the past decade that is exactly what the boffins at London headquartered Silverstream Technologies have been working on.

Air lubrication it would seem is not a passing phase, the technology, which produces a thin layer of micro-bubbles flowing underneath the hull of the vessel, will be an integral part of twelve new RoRo ships under construction for independent Italian ship owner Grimaldi Group SpA. The system, which will last the lifetime of the new flat bottomed vessels, aims at reducing fuel consumption and associated emissions.

The Grimaldi Group expects the first of the new vessels, being constructed at the Chinese Jinling shipyard, to be completed in May 2020 and become operational by Q3 2020 on its Mediterranean RoRo trade routes. Emanuele Grimaldi, Managing Director, Grimaldi Group said:

“I am pleased that the Silverstream® System will form the centrepiece of our pioneering new Ro-Ro vessels. The GG5G project always set out to create a new paradigm in ship design and demonstrate to the whole industry what is possible in terms of driving sustainability with proven solutions already on the market. In signing this deal with Silverstream, we have shown that a more sustainable future for shipping is not just possible, but is closely within our grasp.”

Grimaldi’s Green 5th Generation (GG5G) vessel project was conceived over the last year in conjunction with Danish naval architect Knud E Hansen. The vessels will emit zero emissions in port following the installation of lithium batteries, and, in addition to Silverstream’s technology, will also be fitted with solar panels and scrubbers to further reduce emissions. Dario Bocchetti, Head of Corporate Energy Saving and Innovation Dept at Grimaldi, commented:

“Grimaldi’s commitment to sustainability is unparalleled within the shipping industry. This deal with Silverstream demonstrates that the time for innovative solutions to shipping’s problems is upon us. The reduction of fuel costs and associated emissions is central to Grimaldi’s aims as a progressive, forward-thinking company, and we are extremely pleased that Silverstream will help us fulfil those goals.”

Siverstream says that as well as saving fuel and thereby cutting emissions, its system has been designed to provide continuous reliable performance and is simple to operate and maintain. Noah Silberschmidt, CEO, Silverstream Technologies observed:

“This agreement marks an important milestone in the continued proliferation of air lubrication technology in the shipping industry. With major environmental regulatory challenges on the horizon, it is important to see key players like Grimaldi stepping forward and proving that solutions to reduce fuel costs and emissions are already available on the market. We believe that this deal has thrown down the gauntlet for other ship owners, and sends a message that real savings can be realised through the application of credible and proven clean technologies.”