Oldendorff partners with MIT to design energy efficient ships

Oldendorff partners with MIT to design energy efficient ships
Oldendorff reports that it has already installed a number of fuel saving devices onboard its vessels including larger propellers and boss cap fin propellers. Image courtesy of Oldendorff

Oldendorff Carriers has signed a research agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Centre for Bits and Atoms (CBA) to improve the energy efficiency of the German dry bulk operator’s vessels.

Oldendorff, together with CBA and its campus collaborators including MIT’s Sea Grant Program, will investigate disruptive improvements in ship design and propulsion to achieve the IMO 2030/50 requirements.

The initial emphasis will be directed at improving hydrodynamic efficiency, which builds on work CBA has been doing with the aerospace and automotive industries. The work goes beyond traditional naval architecture to a deeper integration of form and function. Anticipated research areas include morphing structures, hydrodynamic cloaking, moving boundary layers, and alternative energy sources.

CBA’s digital material technology is based on digitising not just designs but also the construction of materials. The resulting structures aim to bring to shipping benefits including record-setting material properties, integrated heterogeneous functionality, automated lifecycle assembly and disassembly, and reduced environmental footprints.

According to Clarkson Research, only about 30 per cent of the world fleet today is made up of “eco” vessels. Since 2013, Oldendorff has invested USD 3 billion in 90 new eco vessels built in China, Korea and Japan, which have fuel-efficient and reduced greenhouse gas emissions engines, and a number of fuel saving devices to reduce consumption and carbon emissions.

Oldendorff says that today over 95 per cent of its fleet, and most of its chartered vessels, are eco type vessels. The average age of the 116 vessels of the Oldendorff owned and bareboat chartered fleet is 4.09 years.

“We recognise that clean oceans and clean air are vital for our survival, both as a company and as individuals. With less than 10 years to implement a fundamental shift on how ships are powered in order to achieve the GHG reduction mandates, Oldendorff Carriers is partnering with MIT’s preeminent experts in technology research to forge the way ahead,” said Oldendorff CEO, Peter Twiss.

“We’re pleased to have this opportunity to extend our research on high-performance structures from air and space to the seas, and appreciate the ambitious commitment that Oldendorff Carriers is making to the important goal of meeting the IMO mandate for reducing the environmental impact of shipping,” said CBA director Neil Gershenfeld.