LR gives approval in principle to LNG-fueled bulker

LNG fueled bulkerDECEMBER 21, 2012 — Lloyd's Register has given approval in principle (AIP) to a new "Clean Sky" bulk carrier design featuring an LNG-as-fuel system.

Chinese shipbuilder COSCO, Piraeus, Greece, headquartered shipowner Golden Union and Lloyd's Register started the project in June 2011 to investigate the potential to develop a commercially viable bulk carrier design based on an existing COSCO conventional design, but with a gas powered propulsion systems.

The Clean Sky design offers shipowners the flexibility to choose dual, or tri-fuel engines able to burn heavy fuel oil (HFO) or diesel, as well as LNG.

The initial design focus has been on a 290 m, 81,000 dwt Kamsarmax bulk carrier. Lloyd's Register says that, to date, LNG-as-fuel research, technology development and newbuilding activities have focused on specific niche sectors such as ferries, offshore vessels and short sea, or inland, trades, but that his project paves the way for take-up in deep sea bulk carrier trades and tankers.

 "This news moves the industry far beyond the concept stage," says Nick Brown, Lloyd's Register Area General Manager and Marine Manager, Greater China. "A Clean Sky ship could be built next year." He adds that the technology issues have been addressed and that the approval in principle came only after exhaustive risk investigations into the gas containment, bunkering systems and a performance assessment.

Various containment systems and configurations were considered, but the final choice was for a single, 1,160 cu.m type "C" tank that sits aft on the port side (see accompanying images).

Lloyd's Register's Risk Methodology for Novel Technology process provided a pathway through the complexity of the technical risk assessment.

COSCO Shipyard Group's Head of Engineering, Zhan Shu Ming, commented: "COSCO Shipyard Group has a strong sense of social responsibility. We are innovating to help shipowners meet new IMO emissions and performance requirements. Society is looking for alternatives to current fuels, which are also rising in price. The increased availability of gas reserves and the emissions benefits are driving interest in LNG as an alternative fuel. With COSCO Shipyard Group's depth of experience in building Kamsarmax bulk carriers, we are now very well placed to build bulk carriers with the new gas technology. Our development in LNG as an alternative fuel technology will not be only limited to the application to bulk carrier designs, but also for other ship types. The current achievement is only the beginning of our research and development for LNG as an alternative fuel and the COSCO Shipyard Group, as a pioneer in this new technology, is committed to even more in-depth research in the future."

Golden Union said: "The particularly tough environmental requirements mean vessels will have to comply with the International Maritime Organization's Tier III regulations by 2016 and this opens up demand for new ship propulsion solutions incorporating cost effective technologies. This could trigger a substantial shift towards natural gas-powered vessels; and in gas mode dual fuel engines already comply with the IMO's Tier III requirements. Using LNG may be the ideal solution for meeting increased environmental performance without losing competitiveness. This design offers significant reductions in SOx, NOx and particulate - as well as CO2 - emissions by simply using cleaner LNG instead of employing costly and complex cleaning systems which do not always work.

"Looking at the commercial perspective of LNG as a ship's fuel, the capital expense of installing an LNG fuel system should be paid off after few years by operating expense savings, especially if a vessel is trading within ECAs. Global reserves in LNG greatly surpass oil reserves. LNG is becoming more readily available in the market. This, in combination with steady demand, should reduce price volatility in comparison with HFO. Keeping this in mind, HFO and marine diesel and marine gasoil prices will be likely to increase faster than LNG rates, speeding up the pay-off of the system."

Clean Sky class design Kamsarmax bulk carrier

Length overall:   229.0 m
Breadth:    32.26 m
Depth:    20.25 m
Draft, design:   12.20 m
Draft, scantling:   14.50 m
Deadweight:   81,000 dwt
Engine:    MAN B&W 6S60ME C-8.2 – GI Tier II
Gas containment:  1 x 1,160 cu. m "C" type tank
Speed:    14.10 knots (excluding any Energy Saving Devices)

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