Designing the future of LNG shipping

With increased restriction on sulphur emissions, more and more ship owners and ship operators are looking at ways to comply with the restrictions and to remain efficient, profitable and environmentally friendly. Houlder is an ambassador for green technology committed to the future of LNG shipping. The company has implemented a number of green solutions onto a wide range of vessels, including, ferries and container ships.

LNG is one of the standout solutions at the moment, particularly for large shipping.  It is a natural gas that is naturally low in sulphur and still has large global reserves. It also produces around 20% less carbon compared to marine diesel. If you also include methane runoff from landfill sites it is also a renewable fuel source.

So if it is so good why are more ships not converting or being built to run on it right now? That was a question asked of Mike Simpson the Marine Design Consultancy Director for Houlder.  He commented ‘Currently part of the difficulty faced in the adoption of LNG is the infrastructure, the storage and transferring of LNG to ships. It is just not as accessible as it needs to be. With marine diesel the infrastructure is well established. With LNG there are some additional challenges and safety concerns that need to be considered when designing port infrastructure and that is something we have addressed with our latest designs.’

LNG Shipping

Houlder’s latest design for a bunker barge will breach the gap between port storage and ship transfer. The LNG 5 bunkering vessel design has a 5000m3 capacity and can act as a feeder between LNG terminals and smaller storage facilities. The vessel can also use any boil off gas as fuel for its duel fuel diesel electric generators. These will in turn power 2 azimuth thrusters so the vessel will not require tug boats to berth or unberth. For smaller requirements there is the LNG 2 Bunkering vessel that holds 2000m3 capacity.

‘Ports are getting ever busier and refuelling for LNG shipping needs to be flexible and efficient. We also have to consider that there are other potential clean fuel alternatives being developed that could end up fighting for limited port storage space, so an efficient and modern bunker barge design was needed to complete the LNG infrastructure.’

Part of Houlder’s awareness that more infrastructure is needed came due to a recent design for an LNG ferry. This vessel will be in line with the owner’s strategy to offer clean environmentally friendly transport. Houlder are seeing further interest in LNG powered ferries and with this increase in LNG, ways of refuelling in a safe and timely manner will need to be considered. Mike Simpson had this to say about the current LNG infrastructure.

‘When looking at current LNG transfer systems I believed it could be improved. Both in efficiency and in safety.’ The first solution they design was the TRAV&L. This is an LNG transfer system that uses proven marine technology. This system can be used for ship to ship transfer or shore to ship. It comes with either single or double transfer connections and emergency system shut offs and could increase current LNG transfer rates by 10%. It can also be adapted to fit existing bunker vessels.

‘Of course things evolve and improve and with greater adoption of green technology more LNG shipping challenges and issues will need solutions. We look forward to designing those solutions.’




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