A joint project aimed at developing a ballast-free design for an LNG carrier has received approval in principal at the Marintec exhibition in Shanghai this week.
Lloyd’s Register gave the go ahead for GTT and Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co (DSIC) to pursue the design of a 30,000 m3-capacity ballast-free prototype they call B-FREE.
DSIC engineer Ma Yingbin said “While we are still in the initial stage of the project and the design is subject to ongoing change, the initial results are indicating that we will meet our goal of having a ballast-free ship that is equal to, or better than existing conventional designs.”
“The cumulative improvements in operating costs coming from the combination of innovations and new ideas applied to the design are better than we anticipated, although we should be mindful that this is only the preliminary results phase and we need phase two to further refine and validate the design, we are hopeful this will result in more efficient small-scale LNG carriers.”
In addition to the environmental benefits of the design, which would eliminate the transmission of invasive species often contained in ballast water, there are also potential cost savings.
The design removes the need for fitting a ballast water treatment system and avoids costs associated with the Performance Standard for Protective Coatings for ballast tanks and related infrastructure. Maintenance costs associated with ballast system upkeep would be avoided, too.
In a statement, Lloyd’s Register said estimates based on the initial design pointed to lowered fuel consumption as well as lowered LNG boil-off than designs currently on the market.
The idea of a ballast-free ship is not new, according to GTT vice president David Coulson.
“The ballast-free [vessel] was an old idea that GTT had in mind several years ago and we are excited to see it now materialised in a conceptual design … The first results show that this ballast-free design has introduced complimentary advantages such as a reduction in the number of cargo tanks, handling equipment, engine power and more.”