Monday, January 25, 2021

Another Multi Million Euro Project to Look at Maritime Emissions

Shipping Hopefully Sailing Toward a Cleaner Future
Shipping News Feature

FINLAND – WORLDWIDE – Not so long ago we could not see a day go by without a pirate headline, then it was Brexit, rapidly chased up by Covid, however a theme which has cropped up consistently during that whole time is climate change, with the need to cut maritime emissions playing a major role.

This week it is once again the turn of technology group Wärtsilä which, as part of a consortium led by the University of Vaasa in Finland, will play a major role in an important project aimed at reducing the environmental impact of shipping. Other project partners are BAR Technologies, Cargill Ocean Transportation, Climeon, Deltamarin, Hasytec Electronics, Lloyds Register, MSC Cruises, Silverstream Technologies and the World Maritime University.

The goal of the appallingly named CHEK project (deCarbonising sHipping by Enabling Key technology symbiosis on real vessel concept designs) is to reduce emissions from shipping through the integrated use of low-carbon energy forms and technologies. These include the use of hydrogen fuel, wind power, electric batteries, heat recovery, air lubrication, and new anti-fouling technology. Development work on the way by which vessels are designed and operated is also included.

CHEK has been granted funding of €10 million by the EU as part of its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to design two concept vessels; a bulk carrier, which will utilise sails to capture wind energy, and a cruise ship that will operate with a Wärtsilä designed engine running on hydrogen fuel. It is estimated that by combining new and innovative technologies, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 99%, energy savings of up to 50% can be achieved, while black carbon emissions can be cut by more than 95%.

Several key enabling technologies will be demonstrated in practice on actual operational ships and Jonas Åkerman, Director of Research and Technology Development at Wärtsilä, enthusiastically backed the project, saying:

“CHEK represents another significant step in Wärtsilä’s commitment and efforts to decarbonise marine operations. There is no silver bullet to meeting the challenge of combating climate change, you need to exploit a number of parallel paths, and that’s exactly what we are doing together with our partners here. What makes the project so exciting is that we are stretching what can be done.”

Wärtsilä says the project dovetails with its already extensive investments in developing an ecosystem of co-creation. The company’s Smart Technology Hub in Vaasa is a new state-of-the-art innovation centre driving research, development, and production aimed at creating solutions for a more sustainable world.

This initiative is complemented with Wärtsilä’s Smart Partner Campus platform, where stakeholders are invited to participate in the co-creation of win-win solutions. And, in addition to developing and testing the hydrogen engine, Wärtsilä’s contributions to the project will include the following;

System integration for both vessels, including hybridisation, energy storage and shore power connections; Developing a modular fuel-flexible powertrain for reduced fuel consumption and optimum efficiency; Implementing the novel gate rudder system for enhanced manoeuvrability and better efficiency; and Route optimisation for the wind assisted bulker to take advantage of prevailing and forecasted wind conditions.

The Finnish company claims it has unrivalled experience in developing marine engine technology and supply systems for a broad range of fuels, including LNG, LPG and volatile organic compounds. It says it is already well advanced in researching potential future ‘clean’ fuels capable of making a real contribution to decarbonising shipping operations, and it continues to invest in research into fuels such as bio and synthetic LNG, ammonia, methanol, bio-diesel, as well as hydrogen.

The CHEK project is scheduled to kick off in spring 2021. With the new vessel design method, the results of the two test vessels can also be applied to other vessel types, such as tankers, container ships, general cargo vessels, and ferries. The project will also undertake the preparation of future scenarios, and an analysis of factors affecting the development potential for low-carbon shipping.

Photo: The Aurora Botnia ferry project by Wärtsilä designed to operate on dual-fuel engines capable of operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and biogas and cutting CO2 by 50%.