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Rio Tinto to test Alfa Laval air lubrication technology

Photo: Alfa Laval/Rio Tinto Rio Tinto bulk carrier in port
Multinational mining group, Rio Tinto, is to install an OceanGlide air lubrication system developed by Alfa Laval on one of its bulk carriers.

It is the latest dry bulk major to assess fuel-saving opportunities asn companies seek to cut carbon emissions. Berge Bulk and Vale are amongst those trying out fuel-saving options.

So far, Rio Tinto has not named the ship but the OceanGlide technology will be retrofitted to one of its own vessels to assess energy efficiency gains.

The OceanGlide system, launched by Alfa Laval last year, is a patented arrangement that combines air lubrication with fluidic technology. The company claims that its system is easy to install and can reduce specific drag by 50-75%. This translates into potential propulsion power savings of up to 12%.

OceanGlide creates a streamlined air layer over a ship’s flat bottom. It divides the hull surface into segments, with each segment featuring its own fluidic band. These bands provide a means of airflow control over the hull to achieve the largest reductions in frictional resistance.

The bulk carrier will not require any structural alterations but is likely to be modified with between three and five hull penetrations for the system. The retrofit can be undertaken without any major changes and easy adaptation of existing class certificates, the company said.

Alfa Lava’s Head of Air Lubrication, Rajiv Sarin, commented: “We are delighted about OceanGlide being selected as one of the promising technologies that can support Rio Tinto in its decarbonisation journey. By providing innovative solutions, like OceanGlide, we empower our customers to achieve both efficiency and sustainability.”

The fuel and emissions savings resulting from the OceanGlide system are likely to have a significant impact on the ship’s EEXI and CII ratings.

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