LNG-powered ecoliner set to launch in september

Published in category: Innovation

DRAMATIC FUEL SAVINGS AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION

Damen’s first EcoLiner, an LNG-powered inland tanker vessel, will be officially launched in September. Addressing the challenges the inland shipping sector faces, the prototype embodies years of R&D into fuel efficiency and emissions reduction. Fuel savings of more than 25% are expected.

As well as being the first LNG-powered inland ship in the world, the new type also sees the first installation of the ‘Air Chamber Energy Saving’ air-lubricated hull, known as ACES, and the first installation of the retractable Van der Velden® FLEX Tunnel on a tanker vessel.

Having worked in the inland shipping sector for more than 20 years, Simon Provoost, Product Director Inland Waterway Transport at Damen, says the EcoLiner facilitates optimal efficiency for extremely long waterway stretches such as journeys from Rotterdam to Basle for example.

The Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has already approved the gas-powered design, enabling the vessel to operate on all international inland waterways.

Low maintenance
Damen’s EcoLiner is the first inland vessel to combine LNG with a conventional shaft tunnel propulsion and steering gear instead of electric drive rudder propellers.

The 110-metre vessel has a capacity of 3,040 m3 in eight tanks. It has a proven, low maintenance propeller shaft/rudder configuration. And rather than having a standard shaft tunnel for the 1.5 metre propeller, Damen has introduced the hydraulically operated Van der Velden® FLEX Tunnel. The FLEX Tunnel is combined with the benefits of the ACES air-lubricated hull, which was originally developed at the former Damen shipyard Bodewes.

Air lubricated hull
With ACES, air is held in chambers under the hull while a small amount is pushed into the chamber to compensate for any that might escape while the vessel is underway. “It’s a simple concept, but delivers substantial savings. These two innovations alone, give fuel savings of 25%, plus there are still further reductions from using LNG instead of marine diesel.”

Simon explains: “The EcoLiner represents a huge amount of innovation and technical input.” For example, inland shipping vessels typically use shaft tunnels to ensure optimal water flow to larger propellers at shallow draughts. But this leads to a huge increase in hull resistance. In a typical operation, a shaft tunnel gives a huge amount of resistance, between 20% and 25%, he points out. Van der Velden® FLEX tunnel Inland ships typically sail with a deeper draught for about 85% of the time. The Van der Velden® FLEX tunnel can easily be lowered or retracted to avoid added resistance. And when sailing with shallow draughts, the special tunnel deploys to ensure sufficient water flow to the propellers to maintain their efficiency.

It’s a simple concept, but delivers substantial savings.

Damen’s solution of two shaft lines with a FLEX Tunnel, high efficiency nozzle propellers and steering gear, delivers the most cost effective performance with the least maintenance, Simon stresses. All of which is important for today’s inland shipping community. Classed by Bureau Veritas, the EcoLiner is believed to be the greenest and cleanest inland vessel in existence. Using LNG dramatically reduces CO2, SOX, NOX and particulate emissions. He adds that sustainable operations are increasingly important for owners and operators as they prepare for the future and the introduction of inland ‘green corridors’.

Emissions reductions
A power management system for four generator sets ensures optimum engine loads and reduced fuel consumption, both upstream and downstream. Additionally, a waste heat recovery system heats or cools the cargo and accommodation. Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld in the Netherlands is managing the project and installing and outfitting the main engines, power management system, propulsion and steering gear.

Although the first EcoLiner will be delivered as a tanker, the modular design can be adapted for containers and dry bulk. The complete LNG installation, including tanks with a bunker capacity of 45 m3, is located aft of the wheelhouse, which means that the configuration forward of the cofferdam can be entirely tailor-made to suit customer requirements.

More inland vessel solutions – Introducing the Streamliner
In addition to the EcoLiner, Damen has also designed another innovative inland vessel, the StreamLiner. However, this is a full propeller vessel, with a dual-fuel engine. The vessel can essentially run on gas with a small amount of diesel needed for pilot oil or it can run completely on diesel, making it very flexible.

Because the gearbox is directly next to the propeller, there is very little energy loss, Simon adds. Currently, Damen is working on designing a suitable hull shape for the StreamLiner, which will also facilitate the ACES concept.