Keel Laying of the World’s First LNG Hybrid Barge in Komárno

By Peter Pospiech at January 30, 2014 04:00
Filed Under: Company News, Fuels & Lubes, Hybrid system, LNG fuel

The keel laying of the world’s first LNG Hybrid Barge took place at a ceremony held at the ”SAM Shipbuilding and Machinery“ shipyard in Komárno, Slovakia in the second week of the new year. In  the  presence  of  representatives  of  the  shipyard,  AIDA  Cruises,  Becker  Marine  Systems  and Hybrid Port Energy (a subsidiary of Becker Marine Systems and the barge shipping company), the laying of the keel was carried out following the tradition of placing a coin on the keel block prior to lowering the first section.
The start of cooperation between Becker Marine Systems and AIDA Cruises preceded this keel laying  in  the  summer  of  2012,  with  the  aim  of  supplying  environmentally  friendly  electricity  to cruise ships during their layovers at port. The LNG Hybrid Barge currently under construction for this is equipped with 5 generators from Zeppelin Power Systems. These produce a total power of 7.5 MW (50/60 Hz) but with zero emissions of sulphur oxides and soot particles. The generators will be the first marine classified LNG Caterpillar engines to be delivered to customers.

The LNG Hybrid Barge will be delivered in the summer of 2014 – just two years after the project began.
The 74.0 m long, 11.4 m wide and approx. 1.7 m draught barge will be stationed in Hamburg. The Port of Hamburg will thus be the first one in Europe to be offering an external, environmentally friendly and low-emission power supply for cruise ships.  In addition, the LNG Hybrid Barge is equipped in such a way that other potential customers can be supplied with heat and electricity in the winter, thus further improving the barge’s “ecological footprint”.


Graph / image source: courtesy of Becker-Marine Systems

Ghost ships on the Ocean - Who says it doesn’t work?

Drones do it and spacecrafts do it, and this since many years, and recently also automobile maker have their first autonomous cars on the streets, small boats do it also: Unmanned vessels on the ocean is not any longer a dream – it becomes reality. And this as those responsible claim, possibly in a time frame of around ten years from now on.

The MUNIN project (Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks) is investigating potential concepts for a fully or partially unmanned merchant vessel. The case ship is a dry bulk carrier of handymax size, operating on routes between Europe and South America in the beginning. The project is being partly funded by the EU in pursuit of one of the project outcomes of the European Waterborne Strategic Research Agenda: The autonomous ship.

Partners of the MUNIN project are: the Fraunhofer CML, MARINTEK, Chalmers University, Hochschule Wismar, Aptomar, MarineSoft, MARORKA, University College Cork. The available budget is of 3.8 million EUR in total whereby 2.9 million EUR is funded by the EU. The MUNIN project has been started on 01.09.2012 and will be finished in three year time.

Partly or fully unmanned ships will offer many possible benefits, but one of the main driving forces for the project has been the problem of recruiting sufficient qualified crew-members. This is already a significant problem in Europe, and it will increase as “slow Steaming” becomes more widespread. Lower speeds and longer voyage durations will increase the overall demand for crew while reducing the attractiveness of the job: staying at sea for three weeks or more and communicating with friends and family via cost intensive telecommunication systems.

The idea of a ship sailing without a look-out and helmsman is worrying and even frightening to many people. One important part of the project, therefore, is to show that unmanned ships can be at least as safe as conventional vessels, and may even be safer. Professionals agree that “human error” is the cause of between 65 and 90% of shipping accidents. While the definition of human error and the role played in it by technology can be discussed, there is arguably great potential for improving safety by relieving the crew of the most tedious tasks, such as keeping a look-out over open sea for three weeks at a stretch. The MUNIN project will employ the KISS principle: Keep it Simple and Stupid! It is important that the technology employed is well-tried and trustworthy. It is also important to use the appropriate technology for the problems at hands.

Read more how unmanned navigation will work in our next article (part 2).

Graph / source: EU MUNIN project

Diesel Engine Idle to Full Load Time Halved by Intelligent Valve Train

By George Backwell at January 24, 2014 23:28
Filed Under:

One of the  new tools that engine builders are using these days to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is Valve Control Management (VCM), ABB’s variable valve train system, more so since duel-fuel engines become an increasingly popular choice by ship-owners.

Valve Control Management System (VCM): Image courtesy of ABB

Initially introduced in the shore-based gas plant sector, Christoph Rofka, Senior General Manager for New Business at ABB conjectured at that time and with an eye to the future:  “A technology like this speaks to the increasing trend to explore dual-fuel options and create solutions for gas. These engines are also very similar to what you find on many ships, and we believe that VCM will very soon be highly relevant for and effective in the marine industry.”

Basically the technology helps a turbocharger to manage air actively, and is particularly effective for high-performance engines in which large operating ranges or rapid load responses are required such as tugboats, icebreakers, pump drives, compressor drives and power generators.

The manufacturers explain that generally, most valve train systems must be set for a particular engine load and they are matched to a particular operating condition, consequently they cannot switch flexibly from one load to another and so compromise on fully leveraging the engine’s full potential. Running an engine with this type of valve train system at a load other than what it was originally set to results in lower efficiency, smoke, and greater thermal load on the engine.

To ameliorate, VCM was specifically designed as an intelligent valve train system that responds adaptively to change the timing in an engine’s valves so that it always receives an ideal amount of air. This technology thus manages transient behaviour – i.e. changes in engine speed, load or both – so that engines can accelerate more rapidly from one load point to another. VCM optimizes the configuration of the engine for every load, allowing the engine to work as efficiently as possible. A turbocharging solution equipped with VCM can take an engine that is idling to full load in half the time that it normally takes – in some cases even more quickly.

Source: ABB


Shipping companies will choose marine gas oil

By Peter Pospiech at January 23, 2014 04:00
Filed Under: Fuels & Lubes, General, LNG fuel, Scrubbers

A recent North European conducted survey of some of the biggest shipping companies in Europe shows that they  will choose the low-sulfur marine gas oil when the new emission regulations comes into force next year.
Some of Europe's large shipping owners without doubts will choose to use the more expensive, low-sulfur marine gas oil once the environmental regulations aimed at reducing the sulfur content in ship fuel comes into effect on January 1st 2015 in the European SECA zone. The alternatives to switching to marine gas oil with a lower sulfur content include continuing to use the traditional high sulfur fuel and cleaning it with scrubber (exhaust cleaning system), or switching to natural gas (LNG).

While a big number of shipping companies have announced intentions of switching to natural gas on the long term (there is no doubt: it will come), the survey shows that a majority of the carriers choose marine gas oil as the immediate solution, although it costs much more than fuel with the current sulfur content.
But there are, as usual, exceptions: Shipping and logistics company DFDS - whose entire current business area is located within the SECA zone – decided to go to make a significant investment in scrubbers. A total of 12 of the carrier's ships will have scrubbers installed by the end of 2014, and even more of the company's ships will have similar equipment installed in 2015. On the other hand, Finnlines has announced that the company is waiting to see how things develop, intending to use whatever fuel is available. In a letter to the shipping company's collaborators and customers, from November 8th 2013, Finnlines' new CEO Emanuele Grimaldi points out that the best solution  in terms of the 2015 fuel regulations remains an open question. "Our strategy - for the time being – is to study, test and wait. As technology advances, it will become easier to judge which solutions are the most adequate to our ships and services. We could even opt for changing nothing, as there are already contacts with various fuel producers for purchasing 0.1 percent sulfur products at competitive prices," said Emanuele Grimaldi.
And among feeder operators - who typically charter their tonnage - marine gas oil or other new low-sulfur fuel types seem to be the only realistic solution  - at least on the short term - according to the survey. Very few feeder owners are said to plan scrubber installations, just as switching to natural gas as fuel for feeder ships looks like an unrealistic scenario in the industry.


Image: PPM News Service Archive


A closer look inside the new Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre

Located on the site of the former Aalborg Shipyard in Aalborg, Denmark, the new Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre is an imposing structure. The massive ship simulation facility has a testing area of 250 m2, where pride of place is given to a new generation of PureSOX, currently under development.  Added to this is a dedicated control room and a training complex for visitors.

To as great an extent as possible, the Alfa Laval Test & Training Centre is designed to mimic the operation of a commercial vessel. For this reason the equipment is not installed as isolated components, but rather as an integrated system complete with heat exchangers and other auxiliaries. 

The new AlfaLaval Test&Training Centre acts as a one-to-one ship arrangement

At the heart of the testing area layout, and also connected to the control platform, is a large medium-speed marine diesel engine. This four-stroke, 9L28/32 engine from MAN supplies approximately 1.9 MW of output power via an AvK generator, which will be fed into the local grid of the city of Aalborg. 

The fuel for the engine, which will be HFO and / or MDO for the time being, will be treated using a standard setup of Alfa Laval fuel line products. In the case of HFO the also installed inline scrubber can be tested, as well as the latest version of Alfa Laval’s Ballast Water Treatment System.

Besides pursuing further developments related to the PureSOX scrubber technology, the facility will be targeting NOX reduction. Having worked extensively with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) via the PureNOX scrubber water treatment system, the company will begin a parallel exploration of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) in a project with official funding from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. To this end, the exhaust line has been fitted with an SCR unit, developed in cooperation with Haldor Topsøe. 

For the purposes of testing, there is also an exhaust gas heater, which will ensure the high exhaust gas temperatures necessary for SCR when the engine is not at full load.


Image / graph: courtesy of Alfa Laval


New LNG-Diesel Fuel Ferry for Brittany Ferries’ UK-Spain Route

By George Backwell at January 17, 2014 23:52
Filed Under: Ferries, LNG fuel

France’s Brittany Ferries has ordered a huge 210-m long, 52,000 gt, almost 2,500 passenger capacity, dual-fuel cruise ferry that they claim will be the first in UK waters to use natural gas to power its engines. At the same time they claim it will be first in the world to employ technology that allows the fuel to be carried on board at close to atmospheric pressure.

Dual-fuel cruise ferry PEGASIS: Rendering courtesy of STX France

STX France explains that the ship bears the self-explanatory code name PEGASIS (Power Efficient Gas Innovative Ship) and is one of 34 projects engaged in the ‘New Industrial France’ programme. According to Brittany Ferries four dual-fuel engines (natural gas and marine diesel oil) will be installed (they do not choose to name the engine builders at this stage) with a total installed power of 45 MW and LNG bunker capacity of 1,300 cu.m.

Clearly, much forward bunker safety and logistical planning was needed, and Brittany Ferries say that  they were in co-operation with the contracted shipbuilders for two years to study the feasibility of the project before placing the 270 million euros (£225 million) order. Now the ship is to be built at the STX France, shipyard in St. Nazaire with delivery due in late spring 2017, when the new ferry is destined to replace the conventionally powered Pont-Aven on the longer route between UK and Spain.

Main details of the new cruise ferry

    •    Length 210 metres
    •    Width 32 metres
    •    Draught 7 metres
    •    Gross tonnage: 52,500
    •    Maximum speed: 24.5 knots
    •    Dual fuel propulsion capability with marine gas oil as back up
    •    Number of decks: 12
    •    Number of passengers: 2,474
    •    Number of crew: 189
    •    Number of cabins: 675
    •    Garage capacity: 800 cars or mix, for example, of 325 cars plus 80 freight units

Compelling reasons for deciding on the bold move to natural gas as the main source of fuel for the new ship are, firstly its low emissions thanks to its clean burning properties and low content of pollutants; secondly, its very good engine combustion characteristics. According to  Brittany Ferries the design of the ferry aims to reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions by 15-20% compared to current ships. It also aims to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) by 90%, and sulphur oxide emissions (SOx) by 100%. 


IHC Merwede secures order for self-propelled CSD from Boskalis

By Peter Pospiech at January 16, 2014 04:00
Filed Under: Azimuth pod, Company News, drive systems, General

IHC Merwede has been awarded the contract for the design, construction and delivery of a 23,684kW self-propelled cutter suction dredger (CSD) from Royal Boskalis Westminster. and the pump ashore capacity is of 15,600 kW. The new CSD is a replacement investment.  The 152m-long and 28m-wide dredging vessel will be one of the largest CSDs of its kind in the world, IHC said. The total investment amounts to around EUR 170 million and construction of the vessel is expected to take more than three years.

Much attention has been paid to the design in terms of safety, the environment and increased operational workability. A particular feature of the vessel, which has a maximum dredging depth of 35m, is the widening of the aft ship in order to reduce the draught. It offers accommodation for 45 crew member.
This Cutter Suction Dredger (CSD) is a suction dredger equipped with a rotating cutterhead. The CSD is positioned on spuds and anchor wires during dredging operations. A CSD is suitable for dredging silts, sand, clay and rock. Maximum dredging depths is of 35 m.

The main parts of this CSD are:
the hull, containing the engines, (propulsion), pump(s), the crew quarters, the bridge with the dredging and navigational control, etc.; the cutter ladder, containing the cutterhead, suction pipeline and first dredge pump (optional); the discharge system, consisting of dredge pump(s) and pipeline(s); the spud poles (2) and carriage which provide a stable position and forward movement; the anchors and side winches which provide the sideward movement

Cutterhead of a CSD


Image / graphs: courtesy of Boskalis / IHC Merwede

Sister Ship of the “Norwegian Breakaway”, the “Norwegian Getaway” delivered

After transfer from Southampton service as a hotel vessel at the “Super Bowl” in New York – First cruises in the Caribbean

During a ceremony at the beginning of January 2014 in Bremerhaven, Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the 145,655 gross ton cruise ship Norwegian Getaway from MEYER WERFT after a building period of only 15 months. The ship, the second of two Breakaway Class ships, is being delivered just nine months after the launch of sister-ship Norwegian Breakaway. Following delivery today, the ship is sailing to Rotterdam for the start of inaugural festivities which will continue in Southampton before the ship departs for her transatlantic cruise to New York. The ship will be christened in Miami on February 7.
The cruise liner starts the first transfer from Southampton to New York with around 1.500 crew members from over 60 nations. In New York the vessel will act as a hotel ship for the super event “Super bowl”. After the christening ceremony in Miami the vessel enters its first seven-night cruise service into the eastern Caribbean’s islands St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau.

Artist David "Lebo" LeBatard, living in Miami configured the hull painting

2.014 cabins on 18 passenger decks can accomodate 4.028 guests. 75% out of this are outside cabins, partly with balcony.
Engine power of the MAN main engines is of 62.400 kW - they deliver the electric power towards the azipods – this drive power enables the vessel to receive a maximum speed of 21.5 knots.
According to Meyer Shipyard two more new builds will be delivered to the company in October 2015 and spring 2017: the “Norwegian Escape” and the “Norwegian Bliss”. These units are of the so called “Breakaway-Plus-Class” – they will be a bit bigger than the last delivered vessels.

Image: Courtesy of Meyer Shipyard

Marine Electrical Energy from Chaotic Motion Generator

By George Backwell at January 10, 2014 22:20
Filed Under: Research & Development

Home-based inventors, inspired to give real meaning to the much over-used word ‘innovation’, are burning the midnight oil in garage workshops and on kitchen tables all over the world, but very few of them stay the course to get a device patented and glimpse commercial opportunities on the horizon. One of the few is British inventor Martin Wickett who went on to found the small business WITT Energy (aided by his wife Marie) with aims to develop and capitalise on his ‘Whatever Input to Torsion Transfer’ (WITT)  device.

Energy from chaos
The WITT technology is capable of collecting chaotic motion in any direction clockwise, anti-clockwise, up and down and back and forth at any speed to turn a flywheel and create electricity.

The system has numerous potential applications in the marine environment - sea, river or tidal - from lighting navigational buoys to GPS systems, or even the charging of a moored boat’s batteries. The size of the device can match the requirements of the application – from a diminutive few centimeters, right up to several meters.

Whatever Input to Torsion Transfer Device: Image courtesy WITT

WITT lists the following advantages

    •    No impact on the environment, a truly green solution
    •    Tried and tested industry components with a 'fit and forget' transmission system
    •    Totally sealed from the environment and aesthetically pleasing
    •    An affordable price

A UK and European patent has been granted and core countries worldwide are pending on the basis that there is no other energy harvesting device capable of collecting all 6 degrees of motion. The business opportunities addressed are the renewable energy market for both industrial and consumer markets.

Support for WITT
In 2012 the device won a £190,000 ($305,000) development grant from the UK Technology Strategy Board, and then late in 2013 it took home the $100,000 Gulfstream Navigator Award.

A project to advance the technology –  ‘Energy Harvesting Technology from Vessel Motion’ –  led by the  UK’s A&P Falmouth (Cornwall) shipyard, and Devon-based Supacat is presently working on the design together with the inventor and the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter. They have already come up with a prototype device that can be used in water.

Paul Weston, Renewable Energy Technical Manager, for A&P Falmouth Limited and Project Lead for the consortium comments: “This project clearly demonstrates the resource, diversity and commitment that the South West [of England] can offer in the Renewable Sector and how both academia and industry can work together to establish a new product that can deliver and reduce the cost of electricity. The funding made available from the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s innovation agency, has unquestionably assisted in the development of this project. ”

Click here to see a video of the device working in water.

Super-Clean Diesel Fuel on test on “Smit Elbe” Harbour Tug

By Peter Pospiech at January 09, 2014 04:00
Filed Under: Company News, drive systems, Fuels & Lubes, LNG fuel

SMIT, a member of Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., says that their harbor tug “Smit Elbe”, which works in the Port of Rotterdam, has become the first tugboat in the Netherlands which runs with GTL (Gas-to-Liquid).

GTL fuel is a synthetic fuel, produced from natural gas by chemical transformation. GTL fuel is clean: it is non-toxic, biodegradable, and does not contain nitrogen or sulfur.

GTL Diesel is pollution free with no sulfur, aromatics, or toxic ingredients -- so pure that one can even drink it; simply hydrogen and carbon.

Blending just 20 percent GTL diesel with conventional diesel results in a fuel that exceeds nearly all international environmental standards for 2015.


The tug will run on GTL for about six months to determine whether the fuel is able to effect a remarkable reduction in emissions without the engines being adapted.

The drive line of the tug consist of two fixed pitch ASD propellers driven by two Caterpillar 3516B TA HD/C engines, each delivering 1.839 kW. Emission control on-board will be carried out on a regular basis. 

Smit Elbe has been put in service in 2007 and feature class notation: BV +Hull + MACH Tug, Unrestricted Navigation + AUT UMS. Tugs bollard pull is of 57 to.


Image: courtesy of Smit Tug

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