The 2020 global sulphur cap is less than a year away and fuel efficiency is high on the shipping industry’s agenda. Cutting fuel consumption and emissions is vital to meet regulation, remain competitive, and work towards a reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions. Here are four start-ups to watch out for in 2019 that have developed innovative technologies to improve fuel efficiency and ship performance.
I-Tech is a Swedish company responsible for introducing a unique biotechnology to the maritime sector. The organic, non-metal molecule known as Selektope has previously been used as a sedative in drugs for humans and animals but is now an ingredient used in marine paints and coatings that eliminates antifouling by stimulating the receptors of any barnacle larvae as they come in to contact with it on the surface of a ship. The result of Selektope is resistance-free ship surfaces, more efficient vessels, driven by a non-harmful and non-toxic ingredient.
One example of improved efficiency in a vessel using Selektope containing antifouling is Laurin Maritime’s chemical and product tanker, Calypso. The vessel operated in biofouling hotspots for twenty-four months. Calypso’s increased total resistance was calculated at 7 per cent, compared with a benchmark new vessel that would typically see an increase in resistance of 10-20 per cent. Speed losses were found to be only 2 per cent when compared with sea trial performance.
The introduction of Selektope into the maritime sector has been the culmination of a fifteen-year process for the company but hasn’t been without its challenges. Philip Chaabane, CEO, I-Tech previously told VPO Global in an interview that they faced many issues getting though the regulatory scheme. “It really was difficult to manage the regulatory environment in a system that is adapted for something completely different. This was a true challenge and we are really proud we made it, but it’s been more complicated than we ever could have envisioned.”
The Swedish company is continuously working with paint manufacturers to develop Selektope further. Mr Chaabane told us: “As a company we continue to push the boundaries of antifouling innovation and are not afraid to challenge the status quo. In 2019, we will reap the benefits from strategic acquisitions made in 2018 to strengthen our supply chain that allow us to meet rising demand for our antifouling technology Selektope. We will also welcome the launch of brand new antifouling coatings containing Selektope and the growing sales of products already on the market. Over 300 ships are currently sailing with Selektope-powered antifouling coatings and according to volumes of Selektope on order from global paint manufacturers for delivery in 2019 thus far, the number of ships protected against hard fouling thanks to Selektope is set to significantly increase next year.”
Since listing on the Nastaq First North stock exchange in May 2018, I-Tech has become the 2nd best performing company in Sweden in 2018 with an outstanding share price increase of 232 per cent.
We4Sea is a Dutch company that has developed a fuel monitoring solution to measure ship performance by collecting operational data from the ship such as position, draft, speed, and heading. According to the company, fuel savings of up to 20 per cent have been proven.
The solution requires no new software as it takes data from already installed sensors, meaning that implementing the solution is quick and straightforward. Monitoring can be up and running within 24 hours of selecting the solution.
Data is sent to shore and combined with other data sources, such as weather conditions, wave heights, currents, and wind. We4Sea then uses Digital Twin technology to turn the data into information that can be used to optimise the actual operation and configuration of a ship.
Many ships rely on noon reports for monitoring, which does not give a full analysis of ship efficiency. We4Sea’s founder Dan Veen believes that his company’s solution fills the gaps left by noon reports and improves accuracy to a minimum of 95 per cent compared with noon reports.
In one sea study, a company made fuel savings of 13 per cent following 6 months of sea voyage analysis by We4Sea. In other pilot projects, We4Sea has proven that using data analysis can cut fuel costs up to 20 per cent.
Another Swedish company, Lean Marine, has developed several fuel optimisation software and hardware products. Of note is FuelOpt, a solution that reacts directly to data from sensors already installed on-board a vessel, automatically adjusting a vessel’s running parameters to optimise fuel consumption. Fuel savings of between four and 20 per cent have been proven.
Linus Ideskog, director of development and product management, Lean Marine, explained to us that FuelOpt helps optimise vessel performance, regardless of crew experience. Those with less experience can simply give the command for the system to kick into action, analysing vessel performance parameters and adjusting them where necessary to optimise fuel use. They can do this without having to wade through various feedback reports or charts. Those with more experience and understanding of the situation can also use FuelOpt to see where the inefficiencies lie and what can be improved in real-time. This allows them to make manual changes if they prefer to do so.
Lean Marine believes that by hiding the science, engineering, technology one layer away from the user it simplifies fuel optimisation for maximum gains in efficiency.
Spanish start-up Bound4blue has developed an innovative wingsail system with the aim of integrating onto a wide range of vessels. The system is a complementary propulsion system, which produces effective thrust from existing winds, reducing the main engine power required and delivering fuel savings of between 5 and 40 per cent.
Bound4Blue’s case studies prove fuel savings capabilities. David Ferrer, co-founder and project manager, Bound4Blue explained to us that fuel savings are calculated on each specific case as the actual savings will depend on several variables such as the vessel, its engine, route, wind, number and size of wingsails, sailing speed, days at sea and other factors. One specific case study involving a 19,350 DWT chemical tanker, 20.69 per cent fuel savings were found to be achievable by installing 3x30m wingsails operating in the Seattle-Yokohama route, at 13knot, 208 days/year.
Due to achievable fuel savings being highly dependent on existing winds along the route, Bound4Blue calculates the expected average savings, accounting on all wind conditions along the year. In order to do this, the savings calculated take into account the last 10-year wind historical data along the route. Mr Ferrer said the figures obtained represent the average savings that the vessel would have obtained those past 10 years if the wingsail system were installed.
The integration of the foldable system ensures a payback period under 5 years, it does not reduce the available cargo volume and does not require an additional crew to operate.
The system protected by 4 patents granted (Europe, USA, China & Japan) and 3 patents pending.