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Maersk fails to verify savings in air lubrication system trial

Maersk fails to verify savings in air lubrication system trial
Maersk says it was unable to verify efficiency savings from a trial of an air lubrication system on a containership.

The Danish company trialed an air lubrication system on the bottom and sides of the hull on a retrofitted 3,000 teu, 240 metre long containership.

Although the technology was proven in lab testing Jasper Boessenkool, head of strategic R&D for Maersk Maritime Technology, said, “The balance is how much energy do you need to create these bubbles and how much do you save? And how you create a stable boundary layer (of bubbles) on a ship?”

Speaking at media gathering at Maersk’s headquarters in Copenhagen he said the vessel had been retrofitted with compressors connected to 2 km of piping in the hull to 124 openings.

“The only problem is we couldn’t really verify the savings. We sailed it with the system on and off but we really couldn’t find the saving,” he explained.

Despite Maersk’s failure to verify savings the concept is still being explored by a number of other companies. “It’s not that because of the pilot and trial we did the technology is dead, there are still quite a lot of people investigating and creating various ways of creating this micro –layers of bubbles,” Boessenkool said.

Where as Maersk trailed the system using both the sides and bottom of the hull some other companies are taking slightly different approach. “There are systems now that focus completely on the flat bottom where it is a little bit easier in theory that the bubbles actually stay there,” he said.

“We couldn’t find the balance between the energy we put into creating the bubbles and the energy we saved,” Boessenkool concluded.