DNV brings LNG-fuel bulkers to the table

30 May 2011
Ecore, a joint industry LNG-fuelled bulk carrier concept, with FKAB bunkering vessel alongside

Ecore, a joint industry LNG-fuelled bulk carrier concept, with FKAB bunkering vessel alongside

Det Norske Veritas has revealed two projects in which it has been jointly involved, both for high-efficiency, environmentally-friendly bulk carriers, fuelled by LNG.

The first is known as Ecore, and DNV has partnered with FKAB, TGE Marine, Cargotec and MAN Diesel & Turbo in a joint industry project. Ecore is described as  a very large ore carrier (VLOC) concept designed to lower fuel costs and improve loading efficiency. Based on existing technologies, the Ecore concept is said by DNV to represent a step change in VLOC design. Powered by two-stroke dual fuel ME-GI engines, the concept features a more ballast friendly hull shape, a large centre cargo hold layout and introduces an efficient self-loading system.

The other project, known as ECO-Ship 2020, is the result of a joint programme between DNV and Oshima Shipbuilding of Japan. This is an open hatch bulk carrier (OHBC) developed to significantly lower fuel costs, meet or exceed regulatory standards and improve commercial performance. The most significant aspect is that it is designed to run with LNG as the sole fuel, using Rolls-Royce lean-burn four stroke medium speed gas engines as part of a flexible propulsion and power generation system with shaft generator/motor in PTO/PTI configuration. Other innovations include a wide twin skeg hull, Oshima’s Seaworthy bow, and an air lubrication system to reduce hull friction. The concept features a waste-heat recovery system that can feed electric power into the PTI to be used as a supplement to ship propulsion power, representing about 5% fuel savings at normal cruising speeds. The ECO-Ship is outfitted with four large capacity electric jib cranes and hatch covers made of a composite material that weighs about 50% less than traditional steel covers. The vessel has been specifically designed to be fully compliant with future IMO, ECA and Tier III emission requirements, estimated to emit about 50% less CO2 than typical existing OHBCs. A significant part of the reduction is due to the highly efficient propulsion system running on LNG.

DNV project manager Pål Wold, says that the Ecore concept would not only improve VLOC performance but also help lower fuel costs and corresponding emissions. “Working closely with our partners, we recognised that significant improvements can be achieved on both the machinery and hull side by using existing technology,” he says. “Our goal was to combine proven systems and design concepts to demonstrate how fuel costs can be reduced and loading efficiency improved.”

Wold notes that while Ecore may challenge existing ideas on the design of VLOCs, the concept is built on real data. The project team sent out a survey to shipowners, cargo owners and brokers to ensure the project was consistent with market demand, and designed the vessel for a recognised trade – iron ore between China and Australia. “Ecore is grounded in market reality and applies existing technology to real-world issues,” he says.

For example, the cargo centre-hold layout and midship-form was developed to minimise the need for ballast, and enable more efficient cargo handling and allow space for LNG tanks to be situated below the main deck. The self-loading system enables the shore-based loader to operate at a single point along the vessel, said to be safer and to educe the time spent in port. At the same time, the ME-GI gas engines developed by MAN Diesel & Turbo make it possible to use both conventional fuels and LNG, offering a degree of safeguard against volatile fuel prices. Wold acknowledges that LNG fuel creates challenges with regard to bunkering and re-training onboard personnel, but says that solutions are being developed. “Engine makers – including MAN Diesel & Turbo – are already developing training modules to build competence,” he says.

Speaking about the ECO-Ship 2020, Oshima president Hiroshi Minami says that the company is committed to helping customers improve environmental and commercial performance. “Our objective is to be the first shipyard to deliver an LNG-powered bulk carrier,” he says. “To achieve our goal, we worked closely with DNV and other suppliers to develop a viable design concept. We are confident the results will exceed expectations.”

Adam Larsson, project manager for DNV, points out that the project involved input from Rolls-Royce Marine on LNG, machinery and propulsion solutions, while Kockums and FiReCo helped develop the composite GRP hatch covers. “ECO-Ship is an innovative concept, but every feature is based on existing or emerging technologies,” he says. “And as one of the world’s leading yards for bulk carriers, Oshima’s commitment to more environmental-friendly shipping represents a clear sign that the industry is getting serious about LNG-fuelled shipping.”

Larsson notes that the ECO-Ship’s design is not only innovative but practical. “Rising demand for more fuel efficient ships combined with new technologies and Oshima’s shipbuilding expertise, will help to turn the ECO-Ship from a concept to a reality,” he says.

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