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Ballast-free shipping comes a step closer

Written by Nick Blenkey
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AiP was announced at Marintec Chins

DECEMBER 7, 2017 — Lloyd’s Register has given approval in principle (AiP) to a ballast-free 30,000 cu.m LNG carrier design. Called the B-FREE, the design has been developed by LNG containment system specialist GTT and China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co. Ltd (DSIC.

According to Lloyd’s Register, the innovative design has several advantages over conventional designs (based on Type C cargo tanks and using ballast), combining environmentally-friendly features with increased efficiency as well as predicted lower build and operating costs.

Savings in build cost are expected through the avoidance of fitting a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) and not having to comply with the Performance Standard for Protective Coatings (PSPC) for ballast tanks, ballast piping, pumps and values. Operational savings should be seen from not having to, for example, run and maintain a BWTS, ballast systems and maintain ballast tank coatings.

Initial predictions also show lower fuel consumption compared to “standard” designs as well as lower LNG boil-off due to the GTT membrane, compared to a Type C tank.

“While we are still in the initial stage of the project and the design is subject to ongoing change, the initial results are indicating that we will meet our goal of having a ballast-free ship that is equal to, or better than existing conventional designs,” said Ma Yingbin, Vice Chief Engineer, DSIC. “The cumulative improvements in operating costs coming from the combination of the various innovations and new ideas applied to the design are better than we anticipated, although we should be mindful that this is only the preliminary results phase and we need phase two to further refine and validate the design, we are hopeful this will result in more efficient small-scale LNG carriers.”

He added: “Interest received from owners and operators so far has exceeded our expectations. We have been consulting some experienced owners for their thoughts and feedback.”

“The ballast-free ship was an old idea that GTT had in mind several years ago and we are excited to see it now materialized in a conceptual design thanks to the excellent work from DSIC R&D institute and the very strong support and advice of LR,” said David Colson, Commercial VP of GTT. “The good teamwork between the three parties in China enabled us to move forward with the design to this stage. The first results show that this ballast-free design has also introduced complimentary advantages such as a reduction in the number of cargo tanks, handling equipment, engine power, and more. We are excited to move forward with the next phase.”

Nick Brown, LR Marine & Offshore Director, commented: “We are privileged to be working on this truly innovative design that could bring many benefits to the industry as well as offering a potential solution to one of our most challenging environmental concerns. It is an honor for us to have been once again selected to support DSIC. This work builds on the JDP we had together for a low-ballast VLCC and also follows on from the work LR did in supporting DSIC to prepare for building LNG carriers using GTT membrane technology.”

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