As the regulations on greenhouse gas emission of ships have been fully enforced by the IMO(International Maritime Organization), building of green ships which are environmentally friendly is no longer a matter of choice, it becomes mandatory for all shipbuilders. The Korea shipbuilding industry shows a strong determination in developing and securing the green ship technology in order to keep up with the international trend. We visited Hyundai Heavy Industries, a representative shipbuilder of Korea to see the current status and outlook of the green ship technology.
Recently, the biggest issue of the shipbuilding industry is the regulations on greenhouse gas emission. According to EEDI (Energy Efficiency Design Index) that has been applied by IMO to ships built on or after 2013, the amount of GHG emission shall be phased out over the coming years such as a reduction of 5% by 2015, 10% by 2019, 20% by 2024 and 30% by 2030. Especially, carbon dioxide (CO2) nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (Sox) are mainly targeted by the EEDI regulations of GHG emission.
The international shipbuilding industry has been pondering over how to implement the IMO regulations of GHG emission, yet it is not easy at all to achieve two objectives of reducing GHG emission and increasing energy efficiency at the same time. Against the backdrop, Chang, Kwangpil, a chief manager of the machinery system of basic technology institute of HHI explained the situation that “the universal fuel for ships is heavy fuel oil (HFO). In order to use HFO in compliance with the current regulations, we need to install a scrubber which is a device to reduce SOx as well as SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction), a facility that reduces NOx additionally. However, equipping an engine with both of the additional devices imposes a lot of financial and energy burdens.”
The size of a scrubber is large as much as the main engine of a ship, for example, a cylindrical SCR is 3m in diameter, 6m in length and 20 tons in weight. Even if the sizes of the two devices would be changed depending on engine types, it is not good for a ship to be weighted in terms of energy efficiency. Chief manager Chang said that “if you don’t want to install this device, we need to use a premium diesel like MGO (Marine Gas Oil) containing the fewer amounts of sulfur dioxide, but it is not cost-effective.”
LNG fuel-ready Ship
The struggling effort comes up with an answer of LNG-powered ships. In comparison with existing ships fueled by heavy oil, LNG-powered ships are an environmentally friendly choice since they diminish the emission of pollutants such as NOx by 25%, Sox by 99% and CO2 by 23%. Building LNG-powered ships is required 3 core equipment of high-tech: a main propulsion engine fueled by LNG, a fuel supply device that feeds evaporated LNG into the engine, and a high stiffness fuel tank that can deal with up to 163 degree below zero in air pressure.
ME-GI engine, a main propulsion engine fueled by LNG
HHI has launched the development of LNG-powered ships in 2009, and successfully developed the main propulsion engine fueled by LNG (ME-GI engine) in Dec. 2014 in partnerships with global engine makers such as MAN Diesel and Wartsila Engine. Along with it, the FGSS (Fuel Gas Supply System) feeding evaporated LNG which was in liquid state into the engine at high or low pressure will be developed and applied mainly to large-scale LNG carriers along with the main engine. As for advantages and features of the system, Mr. Chang revealed that “if the LNG-powered system is applied to LNG carriers, not only GHG reducing, better energy efficiency but also utilizing evaporated LNG as a fuel for the propulsion of ships become possible, so we can minimize the amount of LNG discarded”.
In spite of those advantages, due to relatively high prices of the core equipment of LNG propulsion system, it is considered that the system has a weakness of lower economic feasibility in the era of low oil prices. For this, HHI has devised a measure to minimize such weakness and to maximize the advantages at once. It is the LNG-Ready technology which is going to be applied when the unit prices of manufacturing and oil prices become affordable enough to secure economic feasibility. After going through a simply retrofit, the LNG-powered system will be activated immediately because the fundamental LNG-powered facility has been already equipped from the outset. The LNG-ready technology by HHI has obtained the basic approval from DNV-GL Group (the world’s largest classification association established by the merger in 2013 of DNV with a 150-year corporate history and Germanischer Lloyds), and this technology was applied to mega-scale containerships that had been ordered in 2013 and 2014 by the Middle East. Since the first delivery of the vessel in Nov. 2014, the rest of them will be delivered subsequently until mid-2016.
Chang, Kwangpil, chief manager of the machinery system lab of basic technology institute of HHI
In addition to LNG-powered ships, HHI has other eco-friendly ship technologies such as dual-fuel engine technology, manufacturing technology of the ballast water processing system and HI-FIN technology. The dual-fuel propulsion engine technology is called as hybrid fuel propulsion engine technology meaning a technology that uses two different fuels alternatively. HHI developed the world’s first 30MW-scale dual-fuel propulsion engine using oil and LNG in Oct. 2012, and two ships loaded with this engine will be delivered to India and Norway one by one.
Ballast water is one of the representative causes that disturb the marine ecosystem, which has been under the spotlight since the zebra mussel incident in the U.S Great Lakes in 1988. To deal with this problem, HHI devised Eco-Ballast, a ballast water processing device that adopts the ultraviolet sterilization in 2011, and HI-Ballast introducing electrolysis, and it completed the applications and tests of those two devices to actual ships on sail. If the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention takes effect, un-processed ballast water cannot be discharged into the sea of the countries in which the convention is ratified. Therefore, all ships sailing around the world must be equipped with the ballast water processing device, which will lead to a new market amounting to USD 80 billion (about KRW 93trillion) globally.
HI-FIN is a windmill-shaped device that improves the fuel efficiency, attached at the hub of the propeller, generating countering swirls to offset the swirls generated by the propeller and to strengthen propulsion efficiency. The ships with HI-FIN are able to reduce the fuel consumption by up to 2.5%, if embedded in a 8,600TEU ultra-large containership, it is shown that around USD750,000 can be saved a year because it consume less fuel. At first, it had been introduced to LNG carriers only but, as it has been spreading over all of the hull forms such as containerships, ultra large-size oil carriers and LPG carriers, the contribution of this device to upgrade of the ship energy efficiency is expected to be significantly higher.
The market related to LNG-powered ships is estimated to be worth KRW17.95 trillion in 2025. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy decided to support the LNG-powered ship industry, and planned accordingly to build LNG bunkering infrastructures while making efforts to enact laws related to land and marine facilities. Above all, since Korea holds a dominant position in the large-scale LNG-powered ship technology, with proactive institutional assistance, the green ship sector is highly expected to grow as a driving force of the national shipbuilding industry in the future. According to chief manager Chang, Korea is the only one country capable of developing and building large-size LNG powered ships because the U.S. has no plan to develop LNG-powered ships, Japan is limited to standard ships, and Europe has been more focused on small-size ships like ferry boats, than on large ships. As seen, LNG-powered ships could be a chance for the Korean shipbuilding industry to kill two birds of environment and economy by one stone.
“If the LNG-powered system is applied to LNG carriers, not only GHG reducing, better energy efficiency but also utilizing evaporated LNG as a fuel for the propulsion of ships become possible, so we can minimize the amount of LNG discarded”.