Shipping needs solutions to support decarbonization goals

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Silverstream talks shipping decarbonization

[Credit: Silverstream Technologies]

By Noah Silberschmidt, CEO and Founder, Silverstream Technologies

Shipping’s clean technology market is growing more complicated in the rush to decarbonize, says Noah Silberschmidt, CEO and Founder of Silverstream Technologies. Proof of performance is critical to choosing between the growing range of solutions.  

Shipping needs solutions to support its decarbonization goals. But many new technologies are still on the test bench, with their emissions saving potential being as yet unproven in practice.

Some of the changes our industry must face are radical. For example, the idea of having one main engine is being challenged by the concept of taking power from multiple generators that can be upgraded or replaced as new fuels and technologies mature.

Many solutions are initially being proposed for a limited number of vessel types and trade routes, because proving even the most promising business cases is a time-consuming challenge.


At this critical juncture, shipping can’t afford to choose the wrong solutions. Existing ships are already about to be subjected to more stringent requirements through the IMO’s upcoming EEXI and CII regulations, and the newbuildings ordered this decade face even greater scrutiny from regulators, financiers, insurers and shippers.

In other words, vessel efficiency is becoming a commercial imperative, and choosing underperforming, unproven, sub-standard technologies could lead to stranded assets and unprofitability in just a few short years.

Meanwhile, some of the industry’s defined decarbonization pathways risk undermining efforts to reduce emissions. For example, one proposed solution to CII and EEXI requirements is to introduce widespread slow steaming across operations.

However, this must realistically be challenged as short-term thinking which not only fails to address the underlying aim of design efficiency but constrains operational flexibility. In short, achieving compliance with impending regulation by simply going slower now ignores the reality that regulation is likely to tighten over the coming decades.

It is in this context that Silverstream is working to make air lubrication a standard on all ships in the global fleet. The Silverstream® System creates a carpet of microbubbles that coat the entire flat bottom of a ship to reduce frictional resistance between the hull and the water. The technology works in all maritime conditions, is not weather dependent, and does not constrain or negatively impact the normal operational profile of the ship. In addition to energy and emissions savings, the system helps minimize noise, vibration and fouling.

Real Ship Examples

The system has been in operation on Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess since June 2017. Final contract trials demonstrated that the original performance expectations were exceeded with net efficiency improvements of over 5% at design service speed, verified by Lloyd’s Register.

Since then, Silverstream’s and Shell’s engineers have demonstrated 6.6% net savings generated by the Silverstream® System on the 2010-built LNG carrier Methane Patricia Camila during normal operations.

And savings of 5.1% were measured during initial performance testing for Grimaldi’s newbuild Ro/Ro Eco Valencia. Subsequent testing has shown savings of up to 7% are being regularly recorded.

In July, Silverstream completed the installation of its system on a Vale-owned newbuild, the 324,300dwt ore carrier Sea Victoria. This was the first time that air lubrication technology had been deployed on a very large ore carrier. The technology was chosen by Vale because the Silverstream® System’s independently verified savings directly align with its plans for reducing Scope 3 (supply chain) emissions.

This has been followed by Silverstream’s largest single order of air lubrication to date with MSC. The order for more than 30 installations of the system is the largest order in the history of the maritime industry. A new project with A.P. Moller – Maersk, with support from the technology group Wärtsilä, an authorized sales and service partner for the system, is also set to place Silverstream at the front and center of shipping’s decarbonization journey.

These recent announcements and our already significant reference list support Silverstream’s continued ambition to make air lubrication a standard on all vessels, but it also proves the role that clean technologies – or, more importantly, technology solutions that are independently verified by third parties – will play in decarbonizing our sector.

As regulatory pressure mounts, we must not become distracted by the profusion of technologies entering the market. Instead, we must recognize the best performing, proven solutions, reward owners for adopting them, and reward charterers by driving fuel and emissions savings.

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