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Could the future of bulk shipping be modular?

Image: Stena Bulk InfnityMAX.jpg
The general cargo trades were revolutionised by the container, and Stena Bulk has unveiled a concept design for a modular bulk carrier it believes could do the same for the dry and wet bulk trades.

The hybrid InfinityMAX concept design carries wet and dry bulk cargo in modular compartments which can be added to dropped off from the main hull of the vessel. The modular design would enable the vessel to carry dry bulk, liquid bulk or liquified gas products - such as methane, hydrogen or ammonia – all on a single voyage.

Stena Bulk said vessels modular cargo units would be designed to be totally self-sufficient in terms of their energy use, with wind turbines and solar panels generating all the electricity needed for internal systems.

Rather than the vessel berthing at a terminal modular cargo units could be dropped off outside ports and towed into berth reducing congestion. The InfinityMAX would use hydrogen as a fuel supplemented by wind turbines, and feature semi-autonomous operations.

“What we are proposing here is innovative, provocative and would radically reshape the way we think about bulk trade, rationalising two segments with complimentary expertise into one shipping segment that is ready for the challenges of the future,” said Erik Hanell, President and CEO of Stena Bulk.

“The application of advanced technologies – including hydrogen fuel and other efficiency measures – means that this is a vessel concept that proves our core philosophy that innovation is key to commercial success, given the challenges that we all face. We will continue to work closely with our innovation partners, leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the right advances happen to make the InfinityMAX concept into a reality.”

Don’t expect to see an InfinityMAX vessel too soon though. Stena Bulk believes technologies will mature to make it possible for the concept design to go into service between 2030 and 2035.