German dry bulk fleet owner Oldendorff has signed an agreement with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) to find ’disruptive improvements’ in ship design and propulsion that could help to achieve IMO’s 2030 and 2050 emissions reduction targets
A statement from Oldendorff said the project’s initial emphasis will be directed at improving vessels’ hydrodynamic efficiency, building on work CBA has undertaken with the aerospace and automotive industries.
MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms is an interdisciplinary initiative incorporating computer science and physical science known for advances in the fields of digital fabrication, materials, robotics, computing, biology and design. The research centre manages a separate facility for rapid-prototyping of designs.
Oldendorff anticipates collaborative research in areas outside of traditional naval architecture including morphing structures, hydrodynamic cloaking, moving boundary layers and alternative energy sources.
The company said CBA’s digital material technology is based on "digitalising not just designs but also the construction of materials, in the same way that all of life is based on 20 amino acids.The resulting structures promise to bring to shipping benefits like automated lifecycle assembly and disassembly and reduced environmental footprints."
Privately held Oldendorff claims 95% of its 700-vessel fleet, including most of its chartered vessels, are ‘eco’ type vessels, which the company said have fuel-efficient engines and fuel saving devices to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
Oldendorff chief executive Peter Twiss said, “We recognise that clean oceans and clean air are vital for our survival, both as a company and as individuals. With less than 10 years to implement a fundamental shift on how ships are powered in order to achieve the GHG reduction mandates, Oldendorff Carriers is partnering with MIT’s pre-eminent experts in technology research to forge the way ahead.”