SEPTEMBER 12, 2012 — An LNG-fueled inland waterways vessel with an air-lubricated hull is at the heart of a new concept being put forward by two Netherlands companies: Bodewes Binnenvaart B.V., Damen Shipyards Group's inland waterway shipyard, and inland shipping company QaGroup.
Rob Schuurmans, Director of Bodewes Binnenvaart and drs. ir. Jan Sneekes, QaGroup CEO say: "We deliver our customer's products from A to Z in accordance to their standards and their specific product requirements in the most environmentally friendly and safe manner possible. Because this concept is built up on a modular basis, shippers, and barge operators can pick and choose. For example, we can provide the vessel including crew for one client, but just a financing arrangement for another, while handling all for a third client. We can tailor the concept to the customer's exact requirements. This concept provides an integrated shipbuilding, ship management and financing solution."
The two Dutch companies came together on the project about four years ago. Bodewes Binnenvaart was at that time starting to develop a low emissions concept for inland waterway shipping and the QaGroup was exploring using LNG as an alternative fuel. Bodewes Binnenvaart was also working on the ACES air lubricated hull where the first impressive results at full-scale had just been recorded at Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN).
The two realized that both their systems had the same aim of saving fuel, costs and reducing emission and decided to combine them into one pioneering design.
Although the LNG/ACES system can be fitted to any inland ship, at the moment the system has been designed around a 110 m long vessel, the EcoLiner, which is based on the well-known Damen River Liner 1145. The new vessel has a bunker capacity of approximately 45 cu m LNG and it will be fully classified by Bureau Veritas. Permission to use LNG as fuel on this vessel has been granted by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ADN-UNECE).
The vessel is equipped with four generator sets and these power all of the consumers via the comprehensive power management system. The power management system ensures efficient energy generation, distribution and storage. For example, there is more power needed going upriver from Rotterdam to Basle than on the return, so the management system will automatically switch the generator sets on and off.
"A typical ship engine runs most efficient at a load of 80 percent of its full power," notes Mr. Schuurmans. "With four generator sets the power management system will ensure the engines do so. Energy created can be stored when using less power or instead it can be used to heat or cool the cargo or for cooling water or heating accommodation. In addition, waste heat is used and becomes energy, so absolutely nothing is wasted. On top of this, there's the 15 percent fuel reduction because of the ACES hull."
Extensive trials have proven that fuel savings of around 25 percent can be realized on the EcoLiner.
The concept provides reliability and guaranteed maximum uptime. The separate generators means that there is built in redundancy and the LNG vessel also comes with a Damen full service contract, which guarantees maximum uptime and service 365 days a year. Damen engineers can carry out maintenance while the vessel is continuing to do its job.
The partners are already exploring markets in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands but also they are going further afield in Brazil, China and In