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Research project eyes fuel savings for container ships

Future container ships could combine wind, solar and battery power to save fuel and cut emissions thanks to a new research project.

Engineers at Newcastle University are leading a £3m European scheme to develop an energy management system for ships, which could also use waste heat recovery and gas recycling, as well as plugging in to shore-generated electricity.

The Newcastle team is also involved in two other projects funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), developing new technology for saving energy and reducing pollutants, and studying how ships could travel at much slower speeds.

“We’re looking at operations in and around ports and related to manoeuvring because that’s where a lot of emissions have the biggest impact”

Prof Tony Roskilly

Worldwide shipping produces more than 1,000 million tonnes of CO2 each year, approximately 4.5 per cent of the global total and double the amount produced by aviation. Around 60 per cent of this comes from bulk carriers and tankers.

The aim of the INOMANS²HIP project, which Newcastle is helming, is to integrate new energy technologies used in other sectors with shipping’s existing power and propulsion systems, said project leader Prof Tony Roskilly.

‘We want to develop a new energy management system and the guidelines for the best way to produce one. Hopefully we will be producing a system that could be commercialised,’ he told The Engineer.

This would allow different energy sources to be selected according to operational needs while others were left in stand-by mode so they could be employed according to demand.

The Technologies and Scenarios for Low Emission Shipping (TEFLES) project, which includes Newcastle and several European academic and industrial partners, will focus on energy recovery and after-treatment technologies for reducing emissions.

This will include energy-recovery devices and exhaust gas cleaning methods to reduce nitrogen oxide gases (NOx) and other particulates, for example, through selective catalytic reduction or absorption.

‘In particular we’re looking at operations in and around ports and related to manoeuvring because that’s where a lot of emissions have the biggest impact because they fall on land close to highly populated areas,’ said Roskilly.

This will include studying the transfer of shore-generated power to the ships so they can switch their engines off while in port, a practice increasingly pursued by cruise ships.

The final project, Ultra Slow Ships (ULYSSES), will study the logistics of transporting goods in greater numbers of ships but travelling at much slower speeds in order to conserve fuel.

The aim is to consider shipping as a pipeline with a constant flow of goods rather than aiming to transport them as quickly as possible, said Roskilly.

‘As you increase the speed of ships, the amount of power required is a cubic function of that so you can make enormous savings in fuel and therefore emissions by going at a slower speed.’

The team will also have to consider the impact on the ships themselves, which are optimised for faster velocities and harder to steer as the speed comes down.

The European Commission is providing a total of around £9m for the projects, which will each last three years.

Carbon capture and storage could reduce the environmental impact of shipping. Click here to read more.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Reducing drag by any means is important, but making sure that the engines and propeller(s) are well matched to the drag force and power levels is important as well; many systems are well off optimum when they are moving at less than design power conditions, or at any off-design condition.

    Optimizing the system will always produce more benefits than optimizing the individual components; that often seems to be neglected in performance studies.

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  • A typically "engineering" solution to an age old problem. But essentially a wrong one. The horse has already bolted, at the explosion in the cylinder, and we are now trying to shut the gate. Until we come up with a viable solution to using this explosion as our main power source our only alternative is to look at the shape and speed of container housing the load. Slowing the speed appears to be a solution but not an attractive one by all accounts. We are therefore left with the shape. My suggestion is that this is where the solution lies. Anyone wants to discuss this matter further please contact me. But a warning......no one else will want to listen as there is too much "expertise", money and interest in chasing bolted horses - and in designing "known" containers.

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  • Wind power? Ships? Maybe some sort of sail could help propel the vessel along .....

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  • Wind power. Wing sails already tried on MV Ashington in 1986 but scuppered due to low oil prices. See http://www.cookeassociates.com/history.html for a summary.

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  • The final project, Ultra Slow Ships (ULYSSES), will study the logistics of transporting goods in greater numbers of ships but travelling at much slower speeds in order to conserve fuel.

    Here's an Idea......sailing ships??

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  • TRGA modules for processing fuel in ships without additives. Tested for reliability - uptime more than 1.5 years.

    Result : reduction viscosity (15%), ash ( up to 40%), pour point (5-10%) dispersion of particle, reducing coke (10-30%), amount of sludge which is separated by standart fuel separator, smoke, removal clots.

    Fuel economy is 4%. Tests carried out by a certified laboratory in Slovenia.

    http://energy-saving-technology.com/en/trga_ship_en.html

    pilot projet - http://bimont.si/en/Fuel_Treatment.html

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