'Fuel saving' product line: launch announced

New range of products aims to optimize ship fuel usage and improve profitability.

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Updated on 04 Jun 2009 18:22 GMT

FutureShip, a new Germanischer Lloyd (GL) subsidiary established recently, has announced that it will launch the FuelSaver family of energy consumption optimisation (ECO) services at Nor-Shipping 2009 in Oslo.

The FuelSaver product line delivers a range of services with a common objective: optimising ship fuel usage to improve profitability, both for ships in operation and those yet to be built.

For ships in operation, it all begins with ECO-Patterns. This service is the first stage in the FuelSaver line, and delivers an overview of the operational fuel consumption performance of a ship. FutureShip experts statistically organise and analyse a ship's voyage data considering speed, distance, and capacity utilisation factors. Ship owners are not only made aware of variances between sister vessels, but learn how their ships perform against the market average for ships of the same type and capacity. They also come away with an understanding of the factors that directly affect their operational energy efficiency.

The next step is to investigate the on-board operational levers that directly affect energy efficiency. A frequent cause of wasted energy relates to the way in which on-board systems and equipment are operated. Additionally, many systems operate permanently at full load, without the option of reducing their energy use. With FutureShip's ECO-Practices service, experts work with a ship's crew and staff during a two-day workshop, going over preselected on-board systems to identify their operating routines.

Workshop analysis results in recommendations for behaviours and practices that can bring significant savings at little or no cost. In addition, clients receive recommendations for technical equipment changes that potentially require additional investment. The estimated investment costs are plotted against fuel savings and against constant average yearly fuel prices to allow easy prioritisation of options.

According to GL, while there are significant savings from operational and low-level technical changes, the greatest savings generally can be achieved when engineering optimisations are taken into account.

"Most ships were designed for operating conditions that are no longer valid. For example, a ship with a design speed of 25 knots might be operated at 18 knots in today's environment. Since its bulbous bow is not optimised for this speed, the generated wave patterns cause the water resistance to increase. As a result, fuel costs rise," GL said.

But hull lines and bulbous bows alone are not the only determinants of resistance. That is why FutureShip's ECO-Chances is designed to provide a holistic evaluation of a ship. Utilising advanced software tools, such as FutureShip's dedicated flow simulation/optimisation tools and powerful parametric modelling software, experts assess the ship from top to bottom to identify the most promising focus areas for optimisation.

A typical evaluation might result in a series of five to six engineering options that offer significant fuel savings. These are presented with estimates of expected savings as well as estimated return on investment.

Some of the suggested options may require additional engineering before implementation. However, hydrodynamic optimisations, for example, often require detailed studies by experienced engineers with advanced software tools in order to optimise results. For these situations, FutureShip offers the services of their engineering experts and partners in the form of its ECO-Solutions service. In consultation with clients, experts identify three options for detailed study, which are typically selected from the ECO-Chances results. These focus areas are analysed in detail to provide shipowners with the engineering parameters necessary to maximise their energy savings.

A typical study of a ship's hull lines is described by Dr Karsten Hochkirch, FutureShip's Head of the Department of Hydrodynamics: "We usually begin our calculations by generating a reference design - a plan for a ship that needs to be optimised." Using the parametric modelling tool Friendship-Framework and the custom-developed flow simulation software FS-Flow, the experts put 500 processors to work to calculate more than 20,000 hull variants within as little as two days. "In most cases, our design turns out to be four per cent more efficient," reports Hochkirch. "Once we actually achieved as much as 20 per cent."