Korean shipbuilding industry, Jump into the eco-friendly ship research

Green ships are on the rise. Green ships mean ships that reduce greenhouse gas including carbon dioxide emitted from ships by increasing fuel efficiency through various methods. Since the maritime industry is no longer free from ever-increasing air pollution, the Korea’s shipbuilding industry has jumped into the eco-friendly ship technology research.

IMO has decided to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the maritime industry by setting the allowance of carbon dioxide emissions depending on the type and size of ships at the 61th Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) held in September, 2010. As for ships on sail, larger than a certain size, the ‘Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI)’ will be applied. Ship operators should establish and execute the ‘Ship Efficiency Management Plan (SEMP)’ to promote fuel-efficient operation of ships. Also it institutionalized the ‘Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI)’ that digitizes the amount of carbon dioxide (g) emitted while transporting a ton of freight every mile for new ships to be built. The EEDI can be understood as the fuel efficiency of cars.

Since the announcement of those three regulations, the global shipbuilding industry and shipping industry have been eager for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Korea, joint research projects have been on the way under the government leadership. A project named as ‘Development of energy-saving hull forms and propulsion systems to build the green ship foundation’, which has been conducted by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy since 2011, is now coming to completion. Under the comprehensive projects in which Korea Shipbuilding Research Association and Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering (KRISO) are participated in as principal research institutes, five detail projects of each research area are served by the industry-university-institute partnerships. With the participations of Korea’s major shipbuilders such as Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Hanjin Heavy Industries and STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, companies like POSCO Plantec and POSCO Power, and major universities related to shipbuilding and marine such as Seoul National University, Pusan National University, Chungnam National University, KAIST, Dong Eui University and Korea Maritime and Ocean University have joined along with Koreas Register and Korea Marine Equipment Research Institute(KOMERI). Of the five specific projects, the 1st and 3rd projects are about devising a method that reduces CO2 by optimizing the hull forms and hydrodynamic designs of ships.

The 2nd specific project is to research the optimization of propeller efficiency, aiming to increasing the propulsion system efficiency by 10% higher than before. The 4th specific project is related to recycle methods that recover waste heat produced by ships to utilize as an energy source, and the 5th one is about discovering new renewable energy resources and securing new power sources.

Specifically, the 1st project is under the investigation of the KRISO, a principal research organization, studying original technologies on the improvement of hydrodynamic performances to reduce ship resistance and increase propulsion, as in technologies regarding the development of hull forms that reduce added resistance in waves, the optimization of ship hull forms and the reduction of frictional resistance using air layer. The 2nd project with its principal researcher of Samsung Heavy Industries has a final goal to develop a whole new contra-rotating propeller (CRP) as well as building up a mockup. Hyundai Heavy Industries takes the 3rd specific project with objectives of obtaining a variety of energy saving design (ESD) technologies that enhance the propulsion efficiency by 3~5% depending on ship types, and actually installing them in new ships. POSCO Plantec has completed its 4rd project, which was about developing a pilot model of the 259kW-scale ORC Generation system for ships in relation to the low-temperature waste heat recovery system, and obtaining 1MW-scale design technology. Another completed 5th project was principally participated by Korean Register. It established a test bed for combined power sources based on fuel cells, which aims to verify the feasibility of application of new power sources to ships.

Dr. Ban Suk-Ho who has been leading this research projects in the KRISO said that “the ultimate goal of all the projects is to reduce CO2” and “the biggest achievements are the optimization of hull forms, the development of energy saving devices, the development of design through which the CRP can be actually deployed, and securing the independent technology for the waste heat recovery system. Since this research project has been conducted as a government project, it will come to an end after 5 years of the project period. Therefore follow-up researches are likely to be performed separately in the future.

At present, Korea is the No. 1 country in the global shipbuilding industry. Korea’s large-scale shipbuilders participate in the government projects, which mean that the R&D on green ships is that much important to the Korean shipbuilders. Especially, the researches on new technologies related to EEDI are being conducted very actively because ships that fail to meet the ‘base line’ would not be taken over by shipping companies. For this reason, it is highly possible that the gap becomes wider between shipbuilders being capable of designing to fulfill the EEDI and those who are not. For now, the EEDI base line could be maintained low but the IMO will increase the base line inevitably and continuously. As a result, shipbuilders that cannot control over carbon dioxide would not survive.

Interestingly enough, similar researches had been on the way even before the regulations on greenhouse gas were enforced by the international society because one of the big issues regarding the reduction of GHG emission was fuel-saving, and this is still a nagging problem to the shipbuilding industry. From the ship owner’s perspective, considering the high oil prices, it is reasonable to invest in ships that can save more fuels. And those researches seem to have been progressed to green ship researches.

Dr. Ban, Suk-Ho of the KRISO classified the future green technologies into 10 categories – Slow-streaming technology, Technology to minimize the ship resistance by adjusting a tilt angle to the bow or stern of a ship, Navigation method taking into account weather favorable to sailing based on meteorological satellite information, Energy saving device, Increasing the efficiency of propellers and rudders, Antifouling paint, Alternative fuels, Reduction of loads on main engine, Waste heat recovery device, LNG-fueled ships – Experts agreed that the slow-streaming technology is a way to increase the fuel efficiency at ease and to achieve the greenhouse gas reducing effect without developing additional technologies. If the speed of a ship is reduced by 10%, 30% of horsepower can be saved.

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