Setting a more sustainable course for the maritime industry

CFR highlights how organisations are helping improve the sustainability of passenger ships

Setting a more sustainable course for the maritime industry


NAPA’s 3D ship modelling and digital twins help customers to accurately understand the impact of switching to new propulsion technologies

By Alex Smith |

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the damage that could be caused if global warming reaches 1.5C higher than pre-industrial levels, in a report published in 2018. The warnings are clear – if human consumption of fossil-based fuels and emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) continue at their current levels, our planet will suffer more intense and frequent extreme events, which will lead to drastic negative effects to resources, ecosystems, biodiversity and food security.  

In reaction to the publication, the International Maritime Organization created a strategy to reduce GHG emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2050. Many businesses operating within the industry have heeded the call to action. For example, COLUMBIA Shipmanagement has joined forces with maritime service provider Blue Dynamics and the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute to develop a digital platform that boosts the operational performance of vessels. The Pangia project – which will launch in July 2023 – will offer users several services, including data management, standardisation, and advanced data analytics and machine learning to identify trends and help with maintenance planning.  

“COLUMBIA is proud to be working with our partners on this pioneering development of our Performance Optimization Control Room and to be leading the way in ground-breaking projects to promote sustainability, while utilising the very best of technological advancements to protect the environment and deliver cost efficiencies to ship managers and operators,” says Mark O’Neil, CEO of COLUMBIA Group.  

Partnerships are key for the sustainability initiatives of many organisations. Emissions and energy management firm TecnoVeritas has joined the International Association for Catalytic Control of Ship Emissions to Air to demonstrate the viability of selective catalytic reactor technology in reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from marine engines.  

Decarbonisation is a top priority for maritime organisations, with many focusing on finding alternative fuels. A 2023 report from the Lloyd’s Register (LR) Maritime Decarbonisation Hub and safety and risk management firm Safetytech Accelerator highlights the importance of using technology to track, verify and assure the carbon intensity of sustainable marine fuels. 

“The complexity of the marine fuel supply chain, with its diverse production methods, presents significant challenges to the shipping industry as the definition of sustainability is extended to include all stages of well-to-wake emissions,” says Charles Haskell, director of LR Maritime Decarbonisation Hub. “We hope that this joint study can serve as the basis for synergies and pilot projects to emerge and further contribute to the discussions for the development of new industry standards that can authentically validate the environmental and commercial impact of these new fuels.” 

Water pump provider IRON Pump is working to help cruise and ferry operators further reduce their fuel consumption with its high-efficiency water pumps, which require less energy than other available systems. Its new eco-pump design (pictured left) optimises the flow of water, which improves efficiency further while reducing the system’s overall weight.  

With alternative fuels, new propulsion systems and other technologies on the rise, shipowners and operators need to be able to evaluate the safety and cost-efficiency of these options before committing to a decision. Maritime software provider NAPA has recognised this need and leverages its expertise in 3D ship modelling and digital twins to help customers to accurately understand the impact of switching to newer solutions. NAPA also helps crew members to optimise traditional safety margins – such as loading conditions and ballast water – to make voyages more fuel efficient while maintaining stability.  

Despite the potential major benefits of alternative fuels, these options also present risks. Fire prevention firm Daspos has developed LAS-10, an atmospheric oil mist and hydrocarbon detection system, as a fire prevention solution for cruise and ferry operators. Detectors – which are connected to a central processor unit – identify airborne oil mists and hydrocarbon vapours from fuel oils, methanol, hydrogen and lubrication oils. This then triggers an alarm to quickly notify crew of the issue before a fire has ignited. 

CBG Systems is also improving the sustainability of passenger ships through its RAC Plus structural fire protection system. The solution – which comes in the form of wall panelling – can withstand temperatures of more than 1,000C and offer at least 60 minutes of fire protection. It also delivers significant weight reductions, which directly lowers fuel consumption and carbon emissions.  

In addition to alternative fuels, shipowners are installing new propulsion systems available to reduce their environmental impact and safety risks. One example is the compact version of Schottel’s EcoPeller solution, which combines propeller thrust and lateral force. The unit has been made smaller by removing the gearbox and integrated electric motor, which minimises noise and vibration, optimises hydrodynamics and improves efficiency and stability. This lowers fuel consumption and operating costs and emissions. 

Beyond decarbonisation, alternative fuels and fire prevention, many maritime organisations are considering the use of and effects on water in their work to improve the industry’s sustainability status. For Tower Supplies, this means creating more responsible products for onboard cleaning and disinfection. Current offerings often include synthetically manufactured chemicals with a high carbon footprint that can pollute seawater, thereby impacting underwater ecosystems and biodiversity. Tower Supplies’ CtrlFlow ECA solution uses electrochemical activation (ECA) to clean onboard surfaces, removing the need for harmful chemicals and minimising use of plastic storage solutions. Once installed onboard, the system provides an infinite supply and can quickly improve a vessel’s sustainability status. 

Biofouling also has serious implications for underwater ecosystems and fuel consumption. The accumulation of microorganisms, plants or algae on ship hulls can cause invasive aquatic species to be translocated, while the extra mass on the ship can increase drag and reduce hydrodynamics. Subsea Global Solutions helps its customers to combat these challenges through its underwater services. Its skilled technicians use hull cleaning systems with multi-stage filtration to save clients’ money, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and recycle biofouling waste. 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.   

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