Space technology brought to LNG shipping

Space technology brought to LNG shipping

ABS, OceanFinance, and Scorpius Space Launch Company (SSLC) have launched a joint Space Tech4Sea project to help adapt composite technologies developed for the space industry to liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping.

The project, which has received more than EUR 1 million from the European Commission, will apply composite technology, which offers a reported 80 per cent reduction in weight over existing LNG tank designs, making it more cost-effective and a competitive alternative for LNG as marine fuel.

The three-year Space Tech4Sea development project will adapt SSLC’S PRESSURMAXX composite tanks for marine applications, based on its current use in a range of industries and more than 200 clients including NASA.

Using composite carbon fibre technology, ultralight compact tanks can be developed. The composite material is also not affected by corrosion.

Existing technology is much heavier and reduces cargo carrying capacity, therefore the lighter composite technology is expected to make LNG a more viable option for shipowners.

The new tank designs will furthermore introduce space technology safety standards to marine operations.

ABS vice president for global gas solutions Patrick Janssens said: “ABS remains at the forefront of LNG innovation by partnering with ground-breaking companies all over the world. Existing LNG tank technology can make adoption of the fuel prohibitively expensive. This composite technology has proven itself in other industries; we are committed to learning how to safely apply those lessons to benefit the maritime industries.”

“This technology is a game-changer product that will unlock latent demand for LNG as marine fuel. The benefit of leveraging this US space technology, to improve the environment in European Sea basins, is obvious. We expect introduction of this innovative product will enable sales of more than 2,000 tanks in the next 10 years,” added managing director, OceanFinance, Dr. Panayotis Zacharioudakis.

The tanks are currently made by hand. The project plans to adopt an automated production line to ensure a competitive pricing level.

Engineers from ABS’ Global Ship Systems Centre in Greece will provide the rules, regulations and standards under which the composite tank technology can be approved for marine applications, reviewing the designs submitted by SSLC.