Collaboration is the key to boosting container ship capacity and cutting carbon emissions
International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations are challenging the shipping industry to lower its carbon emissions. Given the current high demand for maritime transportation, collaboration between ship designers, shipyards and class societies is fundamental to meet the IMO’s standards and develop new innovative solutions. Bureau Veritas M&O recognizes the importance of partnering with all stakeholders to help the industry achieve its decarbonization goals.
In February 2022, Bureau Veritas M&O gave approval in principle to a project to convert a very large container ship from heavy fuel-oil and marine gas-oil to liquefied natural gas (LNG). As well as switching to a lower-carbon energy source, the vessel will be retrofitted to achieve a higher cargo capacity.
The project was a collaboration between Bureau Veritas, global engineering company GTT, French consultancy firm ALWENA Shipping, and Chinese shipyard CHI Zhoushan. GTT designed the LNG Mark III membrane tank, while ALWENA designed and validated its integration into the ship, and CHI Zhoushan oversaw the operational aspects.
Optimizing for extended service life
The first stage was to design a tank for the LNG. “You can’t just add an LNG tank on the deck, because it’s already a crowded space,” says Jean-Benoît Bensoussan, Business Development Manager at GTT. “You need a membrane tank that’s optimized to fit in a smaller area.” GTT’s design not only suited the available space, but could also be integrated into the newly added section of the vessel. These two factors reduced the complexity of the retrofit, minimizing downtime.
According to GTT and ALWENA, LNG vessels emit 23% less CO2 over an 83-day Europe-Asia round trip – with additional reductions in nitric oxide and particulate matter – compared to a conventionally powered ship.
Enlarging the vessel’s capacity also has a positive effect on its environmental impact, as well as its commercial margins. Additionally, the increased cargo capacity will shorten the payback time for the cost of this retrofit. All this extends the commercial life of the vessel.
“Ships are designed for 25 or 30 years of service,” says Ludovic Gérard, CEO of ALWENA. “But they are commercially viable for only 15 years, due to increasing regulations about emissions. This retrofit will enable the ship to stay in service for its full design life, which is a big step forward.”
Collaborating for progress
With such a complex project, close collaboration was key to success. “It was a very rewarding collaboration,” Jean-Benoît says.
GTT focused on the technology and the fuel gas supply system. The expertise in naval architecture was brought by ALWENA, and CHI Zhoushan brought operations excellence.
“We helped with in-depth knowledge of the ship itself,” says Thibault Vinet, Project Manager at ALWENA. “How to operate the ship, its power output, the speed required by the owner and operator.”
Alexandre Tocatlian, Head of Business Development at GTT emphasizes the importance of working with Bureau Veritas M&O on this project. “This is the third one we’ve done with BV,” he says.
It’s really important to have a classification society that believes in new innovations. It’s what we need in the industry today.
“BV gave us strong technical support, plus guidance and recommendations,” Ludovic Gérard adds. “They have a long experience with auxiliary safety systems, IGF Code and, of course, with their own Rule NR 529 for gas-fueled ships, which was an enormous help on this project.”