Green Ship Technology

Date: Wednesday 13th November 2013

Venue: The UK Chamber of Shipping, 30 Park Street, London SE1

Host: Michael Parker of CMA CGM (UK) Holdings

Speaker: Dr Abdul Rahim, ClassNK

Subject: “Green ship technology to reduce greenhouse gas emission from ships”

Report by James Brewer

13th-november-2013-green-ship-technologyIf classification societies are coming to be recognised* as catalysts for change in the maritime sector, few people realise the extent of their contribution.  Even seasoned members of the audience at this IMIF meeting were impressed by the scale and scope of projects fostered by the major society ClassNK.

Dr Rahim, regional manager for Europe and Africa at ClassNK, opened his address by outlining the changing role of class since 1760 when the world’s first classification society was founded. Today class had a new role as both a regulator and innovator.

The situation in 2008 of falling charter rates, rising bunker prices and falling ship prices, with costly new regulation, posed the need for innovation to keep costs under control, but the problem was, who could provide funding and support? “That is where we stepped in,” said Dr Rahim.

ClassNK research and development expenditure as a percentage of annual revenue had risen to 15% in 2012, compared with about 8% in 2008. “No [other] industry in the world is spending this percentage on research and development,” he said. “The backbone is technology, and we do not want to lose that.”

“We are not alone,” he went on, but ClassNK was a main catalyst in driving things forward over a wide spectrum of industry. “We as a group together with all sectors of the industry are moving forward to pursue this maritime innovation, so ships can be more efficient and cost-effective.” There was collaboration with yards, owners, manufacturers, universities and other interested parties. Among them, Dr Rahim listed 16 maritime industry partners, and 15 university partners.

“The key is collaboration,” he emphasised, referring to the Joint R&D for Industry Programme founded in 2009 – “now our largest R&D expense.” It accounted for 55% of the society’s R&D budget. Industry projects with support and funding from ClassNK, as of end July 2013, were: 122 completed, 93 in progress and 78 in planning.

Dr Rahim detailed the main initiatives. The first stemmed from the Ship Recycling Convention, under which ships will need a document listing all the hazardous materials on board, known as the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM), and will need  to develop a recycling plan. Compiling this manually would entail too much cost. One IHM plan could require between 500 and 1,800 documents. Collecting, collating, searching and storing data might have to cover at least 10,000 pieces of equipment.  Apart from this it would entail a large amount of correspondence between manufacturers and yards to track and follow the history of the equipment.

In particular, each ship would require a large amount of storage space for the documentation.”So we have developed a system known as PrimeShip – GREEN/SRM. It is a cloud-based system for ship recycling management. Paperless, with uniform data,  minimal correspondence, IHM is created, updated, maintained and certified all on one single platform: one platform for the entire maritime industry,” said Dr Rahim. As of now, more than 90 shipbuilders and 1,300 ship suppliers were registered.

Meanwhile, the industry was rushing to meet the requirements of the Ballast Water Management Convention.  As of the end of June 2013, 37 states with total tonnage of 30.32% of the relevant world fleet had ratified the convention, as against the requirement for it to come into force of a minimum 30 states covering 35% of tonnage.

In this context, the industry needed to face up to the challenges of compliance: limited existing drawings, measurement accuracy of existing equipment , involvement of engineering experts, time in dock and retrofit costs.

Here, as with ship recycling convention, ClassNK had acted, by developing a 3D laser scanning system to produce a 3D model giving the latest picture of the engine room. The benefits were: no drydocking, time required for on board examination minimised, modifications in retrofit work on board lowered, and design complications reduced. Limited existing drawings would be supplemented by highly accurate data.  The involvement and expense of outside engineers were reduced. Dock work could be planned well in advance, and cutting of major shell plates was avoided.

ClassNK had also worked on storing electronic drawings into a ‘cloud-based’ system, collaborating with IBM. Instead of large storage (2 to 3 sq m) being required for the drawings of a vessel, to which there was limited, on-site access, what is known as ClassNK Archive Center eliminated the need for physical space, provided access anytime anywhere, and could be shared in case of emergencies or other needs, subject to security.

Turning to greenhouse gas reduction technology, Dr Rahim spoke of a Japanese undertaking recently completed. The Japanese GHG Reduction Programme involves 22 projects, 12 yards, seven owners, 11 manufacturers, ClassNK, government, and non-profit organisations. The shipyards have already produced new designs for several eco-ships.

He summarised recent test results of improved diesel engines: savings in optimised combustion 3%; in exhaust heat recycling 5%, and in distillate optimisation 2%.

Hybrid turbocharger test results showed -3%(based on single running) and -1.8% based on parallel running), although conditions for the latter were not ideal, and better results are expected from future vessels.

Of the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System, test results of savings at sea trial were -12 %, and in operations -7%.

Dr Rahim referred to advanced low friction paint with an action which copies the dolphins in having a layer that traps water, giving a smoother paint film surface. Test results indicated savings of between 6% and 10%.

Considerable efforts were being devoted to research and development for renewable energy, in particular the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, which was under design. Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Farm would have to be located far out at sea. Various companies were likely to come up with different designs.

One key problem related to sea trials. Ships with the same fuel efficiency at sea trials could perform differently in real sea operations. What was needed was a new paradigm combining cutting edge greenhouse gas technology with new advances in IT tools, “to provide real benefits in real operational conditions.”

Dr Rahim asked: “What if we could carry out a ‘sea-trial’ every 5-10 minutes during regular operations? With a software system, we could use that data to accurately predict real performance in real conditions. We could achieve better operations… know when exactly to clean the hull and polish the propellers. You can predict how much fuel a vessel will use, or design for actual conditions.” It would produce “designs better optimised for real operations.”

A system under the heading Dynamic Performance Model learns by means of intelligent hydrodynamic analysis based on real voyage data (wind, waves, shaft torque, fuel flow).  The ship performance model is improved continuously, making it possible to optimise speed, routing, and other parameters while greatly reducing costs. It would be possible easily to evaluate the effectiveness of new greenhouse gas reducing technologies in real conditions.

“Let’s make the maritime industry a little bit smarter and greener,” he concluded.

Questions flowed readily, and in answer to the first, Dr Rahim said the number of personnel involved in the research outlined would vary from project to project.

A subsequent question was: how much of the budget is spent on the development of people, human capital? Answer: that is a very difficult question. The human capital is mostly people working for these companies, or the ship crew. Huge changes come with the development of technology; by way of proceeding with the project, we are upgrading their ability. How much of this investment goes to the development of the people involved in it? It is difficult to quantify, as was the financial return.

Jim Davis stressed the importance of paying attention to speed: “We used to run ships at 22 knots. Do we really need that?” There should be less emphasis on “projectiles” and more about the saving that can be achieved by sailing steadily. “It is the transport element that needs to be questioned besides all this excellent technical work.”

Dr Rahim added that if you reduce your speed of 22 knots by four knots, there is a 20% saving over a lifespan of 25 years in total costs ship and fuel. “Nobody thought of fuel-efficient ships 10 years ago.”

Another member of the audience referred to scepticism about fuel efficiency. “Is that because the data is very raw, or do we need more analysis?” he asked. Dr Rahim warned that buyers of ships had to be careful. There could be bogus claims of cost saving.

He said that the capital cost of putting equipment into a new ship was very low; on an older ship it was very high. “The technology is available, but it is your responsibility to ask the right questions.”

Mr Davis said that ecologists had described ships as big global polluters.  “Are they aware of the benefits to them of the things you [Dr Rahim] are talking about, because they are a powerful lobby?”

Dr Rahim said there needed to be in this regard a concerted effort from the maritime industry.

Mr Davis thanked Dr Rahim for his “brilliant exposition.” We owe a very big vote of thanks,” as his words were enlightening “even for non-technical people, concerned about efficiency, saving and fuel costs. It was very clearly explained. We have a lot to do in our industry. It is good to know a classification society is going far beyond classing ships, to try to help very much in the future, with much more R&D than ever before.”

On behalf of all present, the chairman expressed his appreciation to the host, Mr Parker, for his kind hospitality.

* ClassNK chairman and President Noboru Ueda was honoured with the Seatrade Lifetime Achievement Award at the Seatrade Asia Awards in June 2013 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the maritime sector in Asia.  At the same event, ClassNK received the Classification Society Award and the Technical Innovation Award, the third consecutive year in which ClassNK had received the first-named of these accolades.

span>One contributory factor was the industry getting together to produce the statistics alluded to –government had not been able to measure the industry and neither had the media.

Another delegate asked how prominent the insurance industry was in the processes outlined.  “They could make a major contribution,” he said. Mr Brownrigg replied that in Maritime UK there were P&I clubs, law firms, the Baltic Exchange and so on, but the structures generally do not tend to exist in some of the other insurance sectors.  One of the tasks ahead was to involve the City in a much broader way. “We have to make sure that all sectors are fully represented.”

Responding to comment that the majority of shipowners are now beneficially owned outside the UK (parallel with foreign ownership in the UK car industry and utilities, for instance), Mr Brownrigg declared: “Shipping is alive and kicking here.  Very much so, of course with international shareholders.” Mr Davis added: “The flag is one thing, the activity is another.”

Another delegate referred to rumours that the European Union was again considering the concept of a European flag. In 1989 the Commission proposed establishing on a voluntary basis a Community fleet, and a shipping register to be named Euros, but the plan was withdrawn after opposition from member states.  Mr Brownrigg was doubtful that the scheme would be revived, and he said, “it never was a flag, it was a badge.”

Mr Davis thanked the Chamber for its generous hospitality, and on behalf of IMIF wished Mr Brownrigg well for his future plans. The Chamber announced in July 2013 that Mr Brownrigg had decided to step down as director general from the end of the year, having been in the post since February 2003. In all, Mr Brownrigg has served the Chamber for more than 40 years. He will be succeeded, in a role designated chief executive, in January 2014 by Guy Platten, currently chief executive of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd.