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Green innovation in maritime technology

New environmental regulations are increasingly driving innovation in the Norwegian maritime sector. A select group of companies at Maritime Innovation Day in October revealed the latest within SOx scrubbers, LNG, and voyage management.

According to a study by DNV GL for the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, a number of developments in the next decade will impact the way ships are designed. The report “Shipping Towards 2030: A Series of Challenges,” highlighted in particular stricter regulations on SOx (sulphur oxide) and NOx (nitrogen oxide), greenhouse gas emissions, ballast water treatment and recycling conventions, black carbon, underwater noise, bio-fouling and volatile organic compounds.

Some of the technology developments that could follow are the optimization of hull shape and propellers, various energy sources and hybrid solutions for machinery, maturing technologies within scrubber, SCR (selective catalytic reduction), EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) and low-pressure LNG engines, and increased system integration. The industry will also see fuel developments in the form of decreased demand for heavy fuel oil, LNG in the short sea market, a global LNG distribution network, increased uptake of bio fuel, and hydrogen solutions.

“We will see designs made ready for retrofit of LNG or scrubbers,” said Tore Longva, DNV GL principal consultant for international regulatory affairs, at Maritime Innovation Day in Oslo.

World’s Largest Scrubber

Wilhlemsen Maritime Services (WMS) recently retrofitted its vessel M/S Tarago with a Wärtsilä Hamworthy hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system, the world’s largest multi-stream scrubber. The solution will remove sulphur and particulates from the exhaust gases of the vessel’s main and auxiliary engines and weigh roughly 70 tonnes in equipment plus piping.


The Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute MARINTEK will verify the project to endorse the viability of scrubbing as an efficient and cost effective solution for Emission Control Areas (ECA) compliance. The new sulphur emission regulations, set to come into effect January 2015, requires vessels to burn fuel with a sulphur content of 0.1% within the ECA. Tarago will operate from 2015 without the USD 300 to 400 price premium that standard vessels will have to pay for the distillate fuels they will need to burn to remain compliant.


“This is an interesting test project with Wärtsilä because it is the biggest installation ever done on such a ship,” said Dag Schjerven, Wilhelmsen Maritime Services president. “This combines information about new regulations with innovation.”

Wilhelmsen is also working to reduce NOx emissions at sea via a recent collaborative agreement with Norwegian fertilizer group Yara. Under the deal signed in October, WMS will take ownership of Yarwil’s NOx abatement technology for SCR and further develop it for use in the marine emissions to air market. Yara will in turn buy the SOx scrubber development from Maritime Protection, recently acquired by Wilhelmsen Technical Solutions. A commercial agreement will be established giving WTS the right to sell the technology when it becomes commercially available.

Small Scale LNG

Another trend is the increasing diversification of the fuel mix. DNV sees distillates and LNG becoming more prominent sources in 2030. Energy prices, sulphur regulations and stricter CO2 requirements will drive new solutions. According to its report, LNG will be generally available in the period 2020-2025 and deep sea ships will run on distillates, LNG, bio fuels, renewable and batteries.


One company closely following this market opportunity is Connect LNG. The Trondheim-based company has developed the Universal Buoyancy System (UBS), which can transfer LNG between ships and onshore terminals.


Currently there is a capacity problem at the major ports. The solution is to either expand the quay or build a jetty. In shallow ports, there might be need for dredging or even longer jetties. The problem with small-scale LNG terminals is that there is a longer payback time on investments. Connect LNG’s solution substitutes the jetty with a UBS, moving the loading operation up to 200 meters from land and making it a more profitable solution.


“The plan is to develop a turn key solution and we are looking for partners to make that possible,” said Morten Christophersen, Connect LNG co-founder and CEO. “The point is to reduce investment costs, have a quicker installation time, and provide a more flexible infrastructure.”


The advantage of the UBS is its size. Although there are other buoy loading and discharge systems on the market, the UBS is particularly suited to smaller scale terminals, typically for ships up to 30,000 cubic feet in remote locations, said Christophersen. This could be applicable in areas such as the Caribbean, where there is a demand for small LNG vessels sailing between the islands.


Christophersen foresees the global market potential could reach EUR 2.6 billion by 2025. The company is currently seeking additional partners to join it in a EUR 5.5 million industrial R&D project together with Innovation Norway (45% funder) and an industry partner for a pilot project. It received a MAROFF (Maritime Activities and Offshore Operations) grant from the Norwegian Research Council in 2012 and won a recent award as the most promising start-up in Mid Norway and recently completed test trials at MARINTEK’s Ocean Basin in Trondheim.

Greener Voyage

Another way shipping companies can minimise emissions is to plan an efficient sailing route. The traditional factors taking into account by charterers are port, fuel, handling and canal costs, but new factors are cost of emissions. Norwegian Maritime Solutions has developed a software program called GreenerScheduling2004 that estimates the emissions a fleet of vessel generate when it is scheduled on a commercial basis.

Voyages are calculated with days at sea, port stay, cargo loaded, and freight revenue for each voyage. The program works by calculating the total amount of fuel consumed and kwh output of engines and estimate emissions. It will then find the optimal schedule for the fleet to minimise air emissions.

“There is a lot of inefficiency in shipping,” said Erik Stavseth, Norwegian Maritime Solutions managing director.

Image credit

M/S Tarago was retrofitted this year with the world’s largest multi-stream scrubber to meet coming sulphur emissions regulations.

Credit: Wilhelmsen Maritime Services