Commercial ships are usually designed such that they can withstand the test of time. Thus, it is always possible that their engines are older or have decreased in efficiency over time, which may result to diminished performance. At times, if the cost of redesigning is more expensive, owners decide to dispose of these ships. However, there are solutions that can be taken to solve this issue, such as improving the ship’s fuel quality or observing energy conservation strategies so the ships can burn less fuel and decrease their emissions.
The following are some of the ways to reduce fuel consumption:
- Air lubrication. This is the use of air bubbles to lessen the resistance between a ship’s hull and water in the ocean.
- Photo-voltaic solar panels
- Wind turbines – can harvest useful energy from the wind
- Exhaust gas waste heat recovery (EGWHR). Heat in the engine exhaust is utilized to create steam which can heat space, produce electrical power and reduce the load on the chilled water plant. This technology can be found mostly in offshore applications and is a source of recoverable energy.
- Fuel cells. According to a study designed for the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the three most promising technologies for marine use are the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), the PEMFC (proton exchange membrane fuel cell), and the high temperature PEMFC. Hydrogen fuel cells have been used as well as a clean energy technology for shipping.
- Use of energy-saving devices such as propeller attachments that can improve propulsion efficiency. In addition, the Royal Dutch Shell and Maersk shipping group have teamed up to create wind-powered oil tankers using rotor sails, expecting the devices to save up to 10 percent of fuel on average on a regular global route.
- Modification of a ship’s bulbous bow. The Maersk Line has been replacing their bulbous bows in order to make them more fuel efficient. The idea was to replace the entire bulb with one that is aligned to the ship’s actual speed profile.
Below is a video showing a project developed by MAN Diesel & Turbo and Odfjell aimed at reducing fuel consumption and emissions by more than 20%:
To maintain a competitive edge, having the right partner and being open-minded to change are a must in an industry where the search for fuel-saving technologies is constantly evolving.
By Dez Duran-Lamanilao