There is a current trend taking place among cargo ships to reduce their carbon emissions. For the most part it is economically viable go look at green shipping practices which can be defined as anything that reduces the carbon footprint of shipping. The reason that it is so important to look to reduce the emissions of these carbon footprints is primarily because 50% of costs for these vessels comes from the fuel itself. So simply by reducing fuel costs, shipping companies make more money.
Transporting cargo by boat remains the most efficient and carbon friendly means of transport but there are still billions of tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere each year as a result of the ship transport industry. Ships transporting cargo equals 2.6 percent of total carbon emissions worldwide and that number is certainly going to increase at a rapid rate as is reported in this European Parliament report which estimates shipping accounting for 1/6 of total carbon emissions by 2050.
L.N.G Powered Ships
This method uses liquefied natural gas which can be chilled to minus 260 degrees Farenheit. This releases up to 20% less carbon emissions than the standard tar like fuel.
“We came to a decision that rather than putting Band-Aids on things, we should look for ways to address core issues of maritime emissions,” Peter Keller, executive vice president of Tote, who built two ships that can use this technology after shelling out $350m. This method is not necessarily cheaper but provides a better marketing angle for companies who want to reduce their carbon footprint during transportation of goods.
Several companies such as Silverstream have created a bubble technology to produce a carpet of bubbles along the bottom of a ship. As the hull is mostly encountering air instead of water, the friction encountered is reduced and so the ship can go faster. Tests on a Shell 575 foot long tanker showed nearly 5% change in fuel efficiency and with further improvement they feel that they could even get close to 10%. While this technology is in it’s infancy, with time it could become adopted on a mainstream level.
Slow steaming has had a significant impact on liner ships since the economic crisis back in 2008. Simply by reducing the speed, by several nautical miles per hour, fuel consumption is reduced significantly and less CO2 is emitted overall.
Over improvements can be small but effective such as polishing propellers or coating the hull with paint that inhibits algae growth. In any case, it would seem that real technological advancement will need to take place in these larger ships before it can be passed down to the leisure boat industry.
With 70,000 cargo ships on the high seas there is a lot of potential for decreasing carbon emissions and saving money, so technological advances seems like a no brainer. Perhaps it won’t be too long before your boat will be fitted with air bubble friction reduction technology.
Watch this video below about improving shipping fuel effeciency: