Alfa Laval invests in air lubrication technology firm

M/V Tharsis trialled the technology in late 2020, reducing drag by 60%

Alfa Laval is investing in the further development of air lubrication systems for marine vessels with the acquisition of a minority stake in Marine Performance Systems, a Rotterdam-based maritime technology company.

Marine Performance Systems’ technology requires no structural modifications or vessel recertification, comprising evenly spaced bands of oscillators under the vessel’s hull. Each oscillator produces tens of thousands of microbubbles per second, creating a uniform layer of air to reduce friction between the hull and the water beneath.

The use of air bubbles to reduce a vessel’s friction can lead to a significant drop in the fuel consumed when moving through the water, with the company claiming that its fluidics production method can reduce fuel consumption by 8–12% at a vessel’s normal service speed.

“The use of fluidics creates a larger air layer of superior quality,” said Frode Lundsteen Hansen, Co-Founder of Marine Performance Systems.

“Our FluidicAL technology enables truly effective air lubrication, with immediate environmental benefits and substantial savings for shipowners. Alfa Laval shares our belief that this technology will facilitate the transition to green shipping.”

“Fleets cannot be replaced overnight, so existing vessels will need to rely on clean-burning fuels to lower their emissions. In a low-margin industry where fuel represents up to 60% of a shipowner’s costs, the premium price of those fuels is a heavy burden. With very small means, air lubrication can provide significant relief.”

In late 2020, a pilot installation was carried out on the general cargo vessel M/V Tharsis, which conducted 25 controlled runs in loaded and ballast conditions. Analysis indicated a 60% reduction in specific drag over the hull’s flat area using the system, without any impact on stability or manoeuvrability.

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Rob O'Dwyer
Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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