Fuel efficiency has long been high on the agenda for shipowners and operators worldwide but never more so than now. Shipping has evolved considerably over the last 10 years with a greater emphasis on efficient and sustainable operations, and every player in the maritime supply chain has a role to play.
The role of a coating
There is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution when it comes to maximising fuel efficiency, but a mix of various eco-efficient technologies can go a long way to optimising fuel use. Here, advanced hull coatings can play a significant part. Many hull coatings claim to improve hull smoothness and so reduce vessel fuel consumption and associated emissions. The simple reason is that the fouling on a ship’s hull creates friction as a vessel moves through the water. This friction increases the power needed by the ship to maintain a given speed, which in turn leads to higher fuel consumption and more emissions.
Any ship will start to accumulate fouling on its hull as soon as it hits the water. An initial single cell, light slime micro fouling could increase the fuel bill by seven to nine per cent. Over time, with growth and the arrival of larger organisms, plants and animals, the resulting drag could increase fuel consumption by as much as 40 per cent. In today’s challenging operating environment, this is an increasing cost that few shipowners or operators can afford.
But numerous factors affect fuel consumption, which makes it hard to determine the exact performance and return on investment of a hull coating. What’s more, improvements are difficult to sustain. This is why worldwide coatings manufacturer Hempel has invested significant resource in developing its digital analysis tool SHAPE (Systems for Hull and Propeller Efficiency) to help ship owners and operators understand the correlation between hull friction and the application of hull coatings systems on fuel performance.
Shaping a better industry
SHAPE takes the basic principles of ISO19030 – the international standard for performance monitoring - and develops them further to offer customers a tailored hull performance package alongside expert data interpretation and advice from a team of chemists, physicists and hydrodynamicists.
By using in-service Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track long term trends, the SHAPE process generates important data for fact-based decisions to improve efficiency and lower operating costs - and Hempel works with its customers to interpret the data at every stage. This enables shipowners and operators to analyse the impact of changes in vessel operation – such as drydocking, in service solutions and maintenance – on fuel efficiency over the entire lifecycle of the vessel.
Using SHAPE, Hempel has documented real savings for an oil tanker operating over a two-year period (with an 82 per cent uptime) in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. After being coated with the company’s flagship hull coating Hempaguard X7, the fuel saving achieved (compared with a market average hull coating) was 7 per cent, equivalent to just under US$1 million in bunker costs.
Another further demonstration is the fuel efficiency saving measured by SHAPE and delivered from the application of Hempaguard X5 on a bulk carrier operating in the South Atlantic, South China Sea and Indian Ocean (with an 83 per cent uptime) over a three-year period. Here – and again compared with a market average hull coating – Hempaguard X5 delivered an 8.3 per cent fuel saving equivalent to around US$ 1.9 million in the bunker bill. Overall, Hempaguard X5 has been seen to dramatically increase the performance of the hull and propeller at dry-docking and maintain the high-performance level for the duration of the service interval.
In both instances, the SHAPE system provided tangible evidence which enabled the vessel owners to accurately measure fuel performance and make continual adjustments to enhance efficiency performance, protect their bottom line and, crucially, reduce the impact of their operations on the natural environment.
Indeed, at Hempel, we are seeing that delivering on sustainability performance overall is now one of the key influencing factors in our customers’ decision making when it comes to selecting hull coatings; so being able to demonstrate sustainability impacts with empirical data is of significant benefit.
Having this data and intelligence is also incredibly important to us as an organisation, so we can monitor our own contribution to improving sustainability performance. At Hempel, sustainability is a key driver of our business, operations and culture and our sustainability framework, ‘Futureproof’, sets out ambitious goals for Hempel to become a sustainability leader in selected segments and geographies. The framework sets out sustainability targets including for Hempel to become carbon neutral in own operations by 2025 whilst simultaneously enabling our customers to reduce up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 in total by 2025.These are ambitious targets which aim to radically advance our environmental and social performance and enable us to help our customers and employees thrive now and in the future.
Hempel SHAPE at a glance: