The system, which can be retrofitted within 14 days, operates similarly to the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS) installed on the Soyo bulk carrier, creating a layer of micro-bubbles along the bottom of the vessel between hull and seawater, reducing frictional resistance and fuel consumption.
The tests, funded by Shell, found net average energy efficiency savings from the technology averaging 4.3% in ballast and 3.8% when laden. The averages were calculated from all raw data captured during each trial, which included optimal and non-optimal air flows, and Silverstream indicates the system could potentially deliver more than 5% fuel savings, “when deployed on a full-bodied vessel with a large flat bottom”, according to the company.
“This is a landmark moment for Silverstream Technologies and the development of our air lubrication technology, confirming it as a current, and commercially viable solution for reducing fuel costs and emissions within the shipping industry,” said Noah Silberschmidt ceo of Silverstream Technologies.
Adri Postema, gm of Shell Shipping & Maritime Technology, stated: “We constantly look for ways to improve our shipping efficiency, both operationally and with innovative technology. Our maritime technical experts worked closely with Silverstream Technologies, Lloyd’s Register and a number of other parties to achieve a successful trial of this promising technology.”
Nick Brown, LR coo of Marine, explained: “Shipowners and operators need to trust the savings and return on investment calculations that manufacturers claim. This trust can only be built by ensuring rigour and transparency within the trial process, to ensure the highest level of accuracy in the projected figures that are communicated to the market. The sea trials for the Silverstream System have been conducted in such a way, with independence ensured throughout.”
In January, scientists from the University of Leeds found that similar technology could be used to offset global warming, by increasing the reflectivity of ship's wakes.