Brazilian mining giant Vale has received Sea Victoria, a 325,000-tonne ore carrier featuring Silverstream’s air lubrication technology
Ten compressors installed on the ship’s deck sending air to 20 devices positioned under the ship to produce a carpet of bubbles. These bubbles reduce the friction between the hull and the water, reducing fuel consumption and, consequently, emissions.
Vale said Sea Victoria is the first ore carrier in the world to use this technology. The company’s navigation team estimates that, if the test is successful, the technology could be replicated on the remainder of the contracted fleet dedicated to transporting iron ore.
“Conservative estimates point to a fuel reduction of around 5 to 8%, with a potential reduction of 4.4% in annual emissions from Vale’s maritime transport of iron ore”, said Vale technical manager of navigation Rodrigo Bermelho.
Vale developed the project in partnerships with Vale Institute of Technology and South Korean shipowner Pan Ocean to install the technology on one of the company’s very large ore carriers (VLOCs) dedicated to transporting Vale ores.
Shanghai Ship Design Research Institute was responsible for the ship design and its integration with the bubbles. Chinese shipyard New Times Shipbuilding prepared the vessel during its construction and Shenzen-based Yiu Lian Dockyards installed the equipment in 35 days.
The adoption of air lubrication is part of Vale’s Ecoshipping programme, created to help cull the company’s carbon emissions. Vale hopes to reduce its emissions from the value chain by 15% by 2035.
Vale was also an early adopter of rotor sails, with a VLOC equipped with rotor sails scheduled to arrive in Brazil at the end of the month. If it proves to be efficient, Vale estimates the technology can be expanded to “at least 40% of the fleet.”
The company has also signed a MoU with another 23 companies to kickstart a study on the use of ammonia as an alternative marine fuel.
Dozens of second-generation VLOCs already in operation have been designed for the future installation of a LNG system, including an under-deck compartment to accommodate a full-trip tank. The Ecoshipping programme is developing a multi-fuel tank that in the future will be capable of storing and consuming methanol and ammonia in addition to LNG.
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