The jungle ship
Season 3, Ep. 7
Craig EasonHello, and welcome to the Aronnax Show, a podcast about the shipping and ocean space. It’spowered by Fathom.World. I am Craig Eason and that is Danielle Doggett, the CEO of Sail Cargo a company she launched to do something very, very different.This episode of the Aronnax Show is dedicated to the ship in the jungle. A wooden ship being built in a wooden shipyard on the coast of Costa Rica and destined to sail with sustainable cargoes by shippers seeking sustainable shipping up and down the west coast of the Americas.I was drawn to the story of CEIBA, as the vessel will be known, not only because of the extremeness of the idea, but how Sail Cargo is going to sail in a competitive market, and according to Doggett’s plans make money.According to the website CEIBA is a 46 meter three masted squared-rigged, wooden schooner. It’s cargo capacity is modest, the equivalent of 9x twenty foot container sunder the deck.The vessel looks like a romantic and some will no doubt say foolish dream of returning to the past, but CEIBA will have a battery system on board to power two electric engines and have the ability to use its propellers while under sail power as turbines and generate electricity to recharge those.I spent an hour on a Zoom call with Danielle, me in my home studio in Sweden and she in her wooden shipyard the jungles of Costa Rica, which is more than evident in the background noise throughout the interview.I wanted to know how this carbon-positive plan would make money, and to dig into her plans for future vessels, which include fuel cells with the potential for onboard hydrogen generation and even other larger vessels which she is currently collaborating with other potential partners on.But I began by asking Danielle about the challenges of not only deciding to build a sustainable ship, but to build a sustainable shipyard, and find cargo owners who really believe in sustainable supply chains enough to invest in them. Danielle Doggett Yeah, you've hit the nail on the head, as well add to that, that that's this is approximately a $4.2 million project. And we started this with $10,000 Canadian, which is about $7,000. And that's that was it. Starting this with next to no financial backing actually made it more necessary for us to have the answers to every single question, to have planned better, to have a stronger foundation to have more, have done more feasibility studies, to have every everything figured out. Because we needed our investors to trust us. It's not easy to say to somebody you've never met, 'please send $20,000 to this account in Central America where I'm standing in a field', and we have nothing to show for it. So we needed to have those answers. It's something important that you brought up, is that we are a for-profit business model, whilewe actually do maintain a lot of nonprofit organization goals and values. So I actually worked as a volunteer, or very close to volunteer for almost 10 years of my life, and so very familiar with the non-profit sector and very much in love with it. But that wasn't the point of this business. So we wanted to say exactly as you said that we can hold up our numbers, and that, you know, it's a much smaller scale, but hold up our numbers and the numbers beside Maersk or any other for profit shipping company. And we could say, look, we did it, we paid our taxes, we paid our investors, we paid our crew, and we did it, carbon negative. And so that was very, very important for us to be able to say that. And so we do have, as I said, values that are more traditionally associated with being in the nonprofit sector, which to me, this makes no sense why they're associated only with that. But it's called a triple bottom line. So you care about the environment, you care about people and you care about financing. I do believe that the for-profit world is moving towards that a lot of people disagree with me. But it's the only way to make long term financial sense. And so that those things are inherent in our business model.Craig Eason How do you see this then scaling up? You've got the CEIBA, which is is it still going to be launched next year? 2022? Is it still on schedule? How do you see that scaling up?Danielle DoggettYes, we are actually still on schedule, which is really amazing to say, we'll see if we're on schedule when it actually gets in the water. But we are. And it's very interesting. A lot of people think that CEIBA is a symbolic flagship, and that, you know, it's it's nice, but it's not scalable, I would actually completely different disagree. And when I look at how can we decarbonize the maritime sector, we do look at scaling up, but actually, we really look at scaling out in all directions. And so here, for example, in where I live in the Gulf of Nicoya, it's beautiful Bay in the Pacific in Costa Rica, we have an artesanal fishing cooperative here that has 90 boats, little open boats that are about five meters or 15 feet long. And this is, by the way, one of the poorest communities in the entire country, which is where we are located. And we're looking at their little boats and saying, How can we decarbonize that industry, because that's the entire Gulf, that's what all those families depend on. So we are looking as small as little open boats, and we are looking as large as very large commercial steel vessels as well. So with CEIBA, what we want to do is prove the value of clean shipping, which actually, we've already done, that. CEIBA has already achieved permission, because we have so many letters of intent from cargo clients, that we could easily justify building a second ship of the same design. So we see the scaling in in all, all ways that the maritime industry is active.Craig Eason Tell me a little bit about the cargo side then, because I quite often hear from ship owners, that there's a bit of a it's not a tense dialogue, but let's just say some of the stumbling blocks are often between what the shipping groups say they can do and what the cargo owners the charters say they want and are willing to pay. And there seems to be a bit of a standoff there, when you look at more traditional charter parties, when you look at the the the arrangement, the commercial arrangement that they have got between each other, that seems to be a bit of a stumbling block.But you're saying here that you've managed to identify how have you managed to find so many cargo owners that are willing to fill the CEIBA and another vessel?Danielle DoggettWell, they've they've found us as far as I can understand, they've they've really found us. And it's simple. They recognize that by eliminating their carbon footprint, they add value to the product, and that's just a simple mental shift. And people have begun to to make that shift. And so when I can say to somebody, you know, this is one reason actually we identified Canada as an interesting place to go because for example, coffee does not grown in Canada, at any commercial scale whatsoever. Maybe somebody has a tree in a greenhouse privately but or plant rather. So, assuming that there is no coffee grown in Canada and I go to Vancouver, which Vancouver loves coffee. They're massive coffee drinkers and if I go to a high end roastery that is, you know, say they have micro-lot biodynamic, Fairtrade, eco-packaging, organic, they're they're all the things, they are not carbon neutral, they are not carbon negative, not truly, they can offset it. But every single bean that's brought into Canada has a carbon footprint associated with it. So if the roaster in Vancouver can say, 'We are the first and the only carbon neutral coffee in the entire province of British Columbia', that's going to add value to the product.Craig EasonI mean, we're not we're not looking at a very large ship here are we and the cargo that you can carry is limited, but to balance surely being profitable for the cargo owners to be able to sail it on that vessel? Because are they then going to find that their prices are going to have to be higher as a result of putting something onto your vessel?Danielle DoggettActually, absolutely not. It's a surprising thing to say but no. On the route that we've been looking at, which is Costa Rica to Vancouver, if the end product, which is, you know, one kilo of coffee on the on the shelf, or 2.2 pounds of coffee, that would be somewhere in the range of Canadian $30- so call it C$20 to C$25 or so a kilo. Basically, they would have to add around 70 cents to that final final end product. And for something like that kind of product where people are already willing to pay a little bit more, that was not a barrier. And actually, in conversations with our single largest cargo client, who signed signed a letter of intent, which is a coffee roaster, we'veworked with them to create a new business plan, and we would actually be able to exactly price match their current service.Craig EasonOkay, so there's a good market entry point there, the good market incentive there.Danielle DoggettBut at the same time, sorry, to cut ou off, at the same time, we could match their current service price, which I was, I was surprised to find that out myself. But why why should we? We are providing a premium service. And this is a premium, you know, exclusive opportunity. For this client we work really closely with we are going to do everything we can to lower the price. But why should we say it's cheaper than to subsidize fossil fuel industry?Craig EasonBefore I go on to talking about what your plans are for the future, there's another question about what you're doing there today when it came to building a traditional style of vessel like you've got there are three masted schooner, square rig, - when it came to building ships like that, where on earth did you find the shipwright skills to do so.Danielle DoggettSo although we don't, we don't really need to look for people they come to us from around the world, we've had around 26 different nations participate already in the build of this vessel. And the reason they come to us is this is,unless there's an undocumented, I can't say properly -Pinisi - Indonesian vessels that's not being properly documented, this will be the largest traditional wooden build currently in the world of a ship. So we attract world class timber framers and shipwrights like, like bees to honey. So that's amazing. And it's interesting this ship, CEIBA, is the largest ship of any kind built in the history of Costa Rica of any material, as well When she's launched, she will be the largest emission free cargo ship in the entire world at 9 TEU, with people that are building out of wood in the jungle starting with $7,000. But to me, that's like mind boggling. That's how slow the competitive shipping industry is, is that we're winning but like with a hammer and a chisel, and they're not doing it I don't understand. So CEIBA will be the largest in the world with 9 TEU.Craig EasonI guess in one way, you've set the bar high, but at the same time, you've set it quite low at the same time, haven't you?Danielle Doggettshould be able to beat that. Come on, guys. Take my title away. Like please. I want the shipping industry to change, you know, so CEIBA will be the largest but I hope it's not for long. There'd better be bigger boat soon.Craig EasonHow are you working with bringing this vessel CEIBA into the maritime industry? When you bring an ordinary ship and you've got to go through all the classification requirements, you've got all the safety requirements, the flagging, you've got all of those regulations that you need to abide by? How are you going through with that? How are you have you found any obstacles that you've had to overcome in terms of bringing a vessel like this into international trade?Danielle DoggettWell, we are going through that process currently. So CEIBA will be fully classed up to modern safety standards, and adhering to all those regulations, regulations. We are hoping to have the flightsafety here in Costa Rica, though that does present some challenges because there are really no precedents here, set for that. And so they also are the maritime industry here is kind of small,they don't recognize ABS, they don't recognize other things, so whether or not she's actually flagged in Costa Rica is still to be determined. One of the largest problems that I don't think that we will really face simply because of where we're based, but would typically be a commercial vessel built out of wood. And this is one reason that CEIBA is not and will never be built in Canada, because Transport Canada, which is the Ministry there, does not recognize wood as a viable material to make any commercial vessel out of, which is absurd, because we've been doing it as a human race for 1000's of years. And this is absurd to me, you cannot, you're not going to get an exemption. And your vessel also, you will not get one grandfathered in. But for example, the United States has a nationwide exemption to this, and which is why they have such a thriving beautiful wooden boatbuilding tradition that's still alive.Craig EasonSo you can't build a commercial vessel in Canada made of wood?Danielle Doggettit's not gonna happen. Some people might tell you could apply for an exemption, but I've been familiar with it for many years, it's not going to happen. It's very unfortunate. And maybe one day, when I'm older, I'll work for Transport Canada, and I can't wait to strike that from the, from the paperwork.Craig EasonLet's talk a little bit about your future plans, because you made it clear on the website, that Sabre is a flagship, you're not stopping at one vessel. This isn't just a Showboat. This is a commercial enterprise. And there are commercial goals. So what are your plans? Tell me a little bit now about what you're doing next. Because you can't continue to build CEIBA after CEIBA where you're building it at the moment, you'd probably run out of wood before long.Danielle DoggettWell, it's funny you say that. So we, as I said earlier, are looking to expand kind of in multi directional, many different ways. And so really, we do actually, okay, it's not announced, I didn't say this, we're going to announce we are building a second ship of this design. You guys didn't hear it here, though. And that'll be announced quite soon. And no, there's no, no, no, you can build with wood.We actually have an inherent tree planting program and say that is mandated to plant 12,000 trees before she hits the water, I think we've put around at the end of this year, it'll be 5,000 trees in the ground. And we've only cut down maybe 500. So we're putting at least 10 times more we were in 500 is pretty much the highest number that will be used for the ship, so we are planting many, many more. But here in Costa Rica, they have some of the most strict forestry laws. And it's one of the only countries in the world where the National Forest is actually increasing in size every year. And this is something that's very important for us to be able to verify that we are getting wood in a sustainable and regenerative manner. Actually, right now we have a nonprofit branch and they're running their "Trees for Seas" tree planting campaign. So if you want to plant a tree, you can contribute that way. But to answer your question, we're also looking at building large commercial ships. We are forming some partnerships right now that are very exciting, with port authorities and industrial shipyards and naval architects, they're really the best from around the world. And if everything falls into place, which we're not sure if it will, there would be guaranteed cargo contracts for those vessels as well, the large commercial ones,Craig Easonand these larger commercial vessels, well, they all but also be looking at wood constructions, are you looking at expanding your vessel types as well?Danielle Doggett Yeah, these would actually be built of steel. And this is a big step for us because CEIBA is very beautiful, because she is inherently carbon negative and organic and her life cycle will be very beautiful. When that ship comes to its end of its life, which could be as long as 100 years, it's made of wood, and it goes back to Earth. And of course, steel is a natural material from Earth, but it's not really the same. When you look at lifecycle analysis. So I'm happy to say, you know, if we build a large steel vessel, I'd write imperfect, I paint the word imperfect, very large on the side of it, so even if the operation is carbon neutral, because we would not be using fossil fuels of any kind, the steel itself has a very heavy, heavy carbon and social footprint, which is something that we need to look into before I can really comment further. But we do intend to do feasibility studies and environmental impact studies on that. You know,Craig EasonI'm aware that the production of steel is particularly intensive, in terms of energy needs. I know there is there are projects, I've read of some research going into looking at renewable energy to provide electrification of steel production, in terms of how the the iron ore is, is melted down to produce the steel, but I believe it's very much in its infancy. So that and that was one of the questions I had about how you would how you could justify that switch to steel, given what you were saying before?Danielle DoggettYeah, well, and it's funny, you know. Wth saiba we're very environmentally inclined, we're, you know, really bordering on being activists, I guess in some ways people always ask us, how can you be environmental if you're cutting down trees? You should build out of steel, so you don't cut down trees? And I say, Do you know the first step of making a mine? You clear cut. You clear cut, and it's typically in Brazil that has all the world's largest iron mines, you clear cut the Amazon and then you start so no, it's not more sustainable than building with wood. But this is something we haven't,we don't have a formal answer on yet. How do we justify working with steel still, which we will be doing research on that, and having statements and having carbon offsets and talking about that. But the justification is decarbonize the maritime industry, inspire others to do more, and work towards a better future. They invented the lightbulb working by candlelight, you know, so you kind of have to work with what you have, and push that forward. And that's what we're doing. So again, I would paint in letters imperfect on the side of that vessel.Craig EasonHow do you say the CEIBA and the these other vessels that you're working on, they will also these other vessels will also be sail powered, so you're demonstrating the use of wind power primarily. But I know in the CEIBA, you're you're looking at other technologies on board, you're looking at having fuel cells and hydrogen. And another area that I found really, really quite interesting is this ability to use the propeller, when you're under sale to Gen to basically generate electricity to then as electrolysis and then generate your own hydrogen on board. Do you see this as being something that you can demonstrate on larger vessels as well, this ability to use fuel sales and use your own hydrogen generation?Danielle DoggettSo just a quick point, CEIBA, the actual first ship we're building is going to be powered by to 150 kilowatt electric engines, which are supported by a very large battery bank. So those will be regenerated using the solar panels and as well, as you said, the propeller. So when the ship is actually being propelled forward using the sails, we can adjust that variable pitch propeller and just generate as much drag resistance and create electricity as we desire. We have conducted, in hope that's the right word now, in partnership, where we have contracted a feasibility study for a CEIBA-type vessel for using green hydrogen fuel cells to power the ship and this is something we're just beginning to explore now that's very exciting. CEIBA seems to, according to the study, which we've been reading, by Ad Astra rocket company, which is an affiliate of NASA, CEIBA seems to be the smallest vessel that hydrogen becomes feasible. And so to really scale hydrogen, you want to have larger and larger ships or at least larger and larger applications, and then that can justify a ship using that. So we're even looking at potentially having a hydrogen, green hydrogen, production facility here at our shipyard,which would power potentially a potential CEIBA-type ship, all of the work at the shipyard, and up to a fleet of 90 open boats, fishing boats, that I referred to. So when you have larger applications, even smaller ones make sense if they can fit in as part of it.Craig EasonThe reason I was asking that I am aware of the Energy Observer, which is sailing around the world, demonstrating solar power, wind power, and the ability to generate its own hydrogen on board for a hydrogen PEM fuel cell that it has installed. And that's why I was interested in how you're taking what is essentially, what I see there as a demonstration of onboard hydrogen generation and putting it into a into living commercial space here, and then even scaling it up, even further to make it even more viable.Danielle DoggettYeah, absolutely. We're very excited about moving forward with potential hydrogen in a large commercial vessel. So this is very, very early stages. But according to I got to meet an astronaut on two days ago, Dr. Franklin Chan was the founder of an Ad Astra rocket company, and he believes that it is possible and scalable and would be viable to do it on a very large scale. But basically, we're driven by the fact that we will not use fossil fuel, so we're not clinging to it, like every single other design out there have large commercial vessels. So you know, for example, OceanBird reduces their use by 90%, but they're just clinging to this fossil fuel, and I don't really know why. So as soon as you eliminate that from the equation, other things start to look more interesting.Craig EasonWhen you look at the effects of this scaling up aspect, and with the saber, you've got certain limits that you've got on the size of the vessel that when you designed it, but do you, you're saying with these other vessels when they become larger vessels, then as you're moving forward, you're looking at larger vessels, and how do you see what do you put them into the same kind of trade that you've got planned for CEIBA,, where you've got long term contracts with cargo owners who really want to demonstrate that they are actually sustainable in that part of their production?Danielle Doggett Yes, absolutely. And we it looks like, as tese contracts come together, so I can't say that they are secured yet, but all every single one of our larger conversations, they all want exclusivity. So they recognize the value of that, they want to have long-term exclusive contracts to really lock in the fact that they are special, they are the ones who have this, and they do not want to lose that service to to a higher paid a higher bidder. And so because there are so few ships, there's almost no ships available right now. And we're seeing pretty, pretty competitive conversations, actually.Craig EasonWho do you think that they do you think you'll soon start to see competitors emerge?Danielle DoggettYes, and no, I mean, I hope we do. And I hope we see competitors emerge. But I just don't really see it happening. As I've said, this even Ocean Bird, which is a very wonderful example, I have the whole thesis study here on my bookshelf, clings to fossil fuels. So until there is a vessel that simply lets it go and they are emission free, and they're carbon negative, or minimum operational is carbon neutral, we literally do not have any competitor because we offer different service.Craig EasonSo what kind of influence do you think you're having on the maritime sector?Danielle DoggettI'm not sure sometimes it feels a little bit removed here in their jungle shipyard in Costa Rica, and I don't always get to get out and really see what's going on. But just last week, actually returned from a sort of reconnaissance mission to the Bahamas to Grand Bahama and to New Providence, which is where Nassau is, and it seems like people are catching on, basically that this isn't simply greenwashing gimmick fad, this is long term financial stability. And this is resilience. And we see this with the Ever Given. And we see this with the COVID pandemic, and we see this with the fluctuating oil prices, and because of COVID, the lack of access to oil, shipping grinding to a halt. The resilience factors is in our faces. And people literally can't get the things they want to order on Amazon and this frustrates people. So it's in their face. Now.Craig EasonYou said that the this is a sort of a $4 million project, and you started off with barely, I don't know, just a few, a few $1,000 in your back pocket almost. How have you managed to get those funds in? And what sort of business do you see this becoming? Because I see on your website, you're still looking for funding to be astakeholder or a shareholder in Sailcargo? That is still part of your plan? Because obviously that's the business model. How are you managing with that process? Because at first glance, people might think, 'Oh, I'm investing in a charity wonderful', but you're not,you're a business. They're they're making a financial investment, effectively, aren't they? So what would I if I invest in Sailcargo? What do I get out of it?Danielle DoggettSo right now, our only investment opportunity is to invest directly in CEIBA, the ship, which is represented by a company called Inverssiones Maritimes Ceiba, and that's the entity that just represent that ship, and you would own a part of that ship and the returns would come from the operation of that vessel. And you can actually email me right now, if you'd like at info at sailcargo.org.and I'll send you a info pack on all the return on investment projections, we present a 25-year plan. But really, it's a very long term investment as well, and so the operation of this ship should was proper maintenance be up to 100 years. And if you if you look at a container vessel that's up there right now, the average age is 10.5 years. And so there are some really interesting details about our business plan that they really tend to convince people. What we will be doing soon, very, very soon, is opening up to receive investment with the umbrella company called Sailcargo Inc. and that's going to signify the shift that we're making, from only doing smaller wooden vessels and potentially scaling up into a pretty competitive, large commercial sector. Basically, just keep your eye on us and watch for these investment opportunities, but they're going to be popping up.Craig EasonThat’s Danielle Doggett from Sail Cargo on the future plans for CEIBA, a CEIBA twin and her ideas on sustainable steel hulled ships in the future. And I hope to talk to Danielle again later in the year to hear how her plans have developed.
Pressure and Propulsion
Season 3, Ep. 6
Links to stories:The cost of decarbonisationNigel Topping on the need for governments to align their message on decarbonisation: Podcast transcriptHello and welcome to another episode of the Aronnax show, the podcast powered by Fathom World and hosted by me, Crag Eason.Later in the programme we will hear from Orestis Schinas from innovative ship finance firm HHX.Blue who has estimated for the EU funded wind assisted ship propulsion project, the potential value ofthe wind assist propulsion technology market as ships all around the world face the challenge of meeting the targets set for shipping’s immediate carbon intensity reduction.CLIPAt Fathom World I focus on the transformation of the shipping maritime and ocean space, but undoubtedly the most exciting part is keeping track of the changing technologies and solutions that are becoming available to help shipping become a cleaner industry.Shipowners around the world face some excruciatingly difficult decisions in the coming years, and I mean the coming four or five years as expectations rise to reduce CO2 emissions and then decarbonise.Political pressure is mounting. Here’s Nigel Topping, who is the UK high level champion for climate change for the next UNFCCC COP meeting which will be in Glasgow at the end of this year.“So, it seems to me that we clearly, very rapidly moving to convergence on agreeing that a transition to zero is feasible within the scientific required timeframe by 2050. All signs are pointing to hydrogen and ammonia being the most promising fuels. Zero emission fuels being ready by 2024, ready to order by 2022 - those dates seem to be coming forward every time - I'm not steeped in shipping – but every time I dip in, we seem to be getting more confident we can go faster. And I think the rapid increase in greenhouse commitments from both governments and private sector players is encouraging. We have a large number of cargo owners in The Race to Zero, but we need to have more shipowners so far only, only, only the only container shipping is Maersk, we need more players along the value chain more commitments from ports and from fuel manufacturers so that we can drive that near term collaboration across industry and government to drive the pace needed. Finally, long term, we've got to have a level playing field. And that I think it's going to mean that some sort of carbon levy or similar forcing mechanism. And there the IMO role is going to be critical. And the discussions at the MEPC in June, on the proposals from the Marshall and Solomon Islands will be, I think, an important opportunity for the IMO to indicate its commitment to playing an active role in the transition to net zero. I know that a lot of people are looking to the IMO to show that leadership and are sceptical at that moment, because I feel I haven't seen it. So I would encourage all governments to make sure that your IMO delegations are sending a clear message on the need for rapidly increased ambition. We can't continue to have one set of ambition communicated through climate ministries and a separate one through transport ministries”.That is Nigel Topping The UK high level champion on climate change for the next UNFCCC COP meeting in Glasgow towards the end of the year. He was talking during a World Bank webinar to explain two recent papers the Bank has recently commissioned and published. One looks at the benefits for developing countries of a decentralised fuel network as shipping turns to fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia that can be made using renewable electricity and not the hydrocarbons of today which are controlled by a powerful few.The second papers outlined explained its views that shipping is heading down a dead end if it continues to order ships powered by LNG. This report is more controversial and has been criticised by groups who say that hydrogen and ammonia fuel and engines that can burn the fuel will not be available in the short term.Nigel Topping sides with the World Bank perspective, but he also believes countries, the UN member states that are also IMO member states, are under increased pressure in the face of the UNFCCC meeting to align their priorities. And that means making sure that what they say about decarbonisation goals in general is what they get their delegations to say at MEPC. The IMO has been riddled with inaction in the past as delegations procrastinate on one theme or another over about 20 years.Things seem to be changing now though. Both the UK and US have alluded to increased pressure on the shipping industry, an industry that has agreed to certain targets by 2030 and 2050 but which may soon find that those targets are just not going to be enough.The UK has said it it wants to bring what it sees as its share of shipping’s emissions into its own GHG budget accounting along with aviation’s. The US has reaffirmed in a recent world leaders summit its commitment to the talks at the International Maritime Organization. So, yes. The pressure, and the rhetoric seem to be mounting.Since the Paris Agreement in 2015 the science has shown that even the sudden surge in acceptance of the problem has not resulted in enough action. So, this year, despite the restrictions of the pandemic we see the world looking to the next UNFCCC meeting which is in Glasgow in November. It is seen by some as the most important meeting since Paris.Some of the papers for the IMO’s June MEPC meeting include submissions about market-based measures from the Bahamas that Topping alluded to, as well as papers on the two agreed measures to make initial curbs on shippings emissions – that’s the EEXI and the CII, the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index and the Carbon Intensity Indicator – as well as more acceptance of alternative technologies especially as pressure may increase to strengthen the current 2030 goals.Now, one such technology is wind assist solutions. These are a growing range of solutions which provide some additional thrust to an existing vessel. these are flettner rotors, wingsails and kites that can harness wind and provide a vessel with a little push, enabling the vessel’s engines to be run at a more efficient power, reducing emissions, while the ship still maintains its expected speed.If you look back in the Aronnax Podcast archives you will find a number of interviews with companies that have been developing, testing and selling such concepts.There are now more than a dozen examples on commercial shipping, some of which are subject to additional research to achieve better understanding of the benefits, as well as a better way of estimating what these technologies can offer by way of fuel savings and reduced emissions for owners interested in new installations.But one of the issues with WASP technology deployment is access to capital both for the companies developing the technology and the shipowners interested in using them.I recently took part in a webinar organised by the Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion project, an EU funded project organised through the Interreg North Sea Europe programme, part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The project has brought together universities, research groups and ship owners to not only test wind assist system performance, but to also look at how modelling of performance can be better developed and then this modelling both used to assess technology potential performance on a retrofit.In this way the aim is to give better reassurance to ship operators that have an interest in applying wind assist technologies to an existing ship or one they want to order and have built.Wind assist technologies from companies such as Norsepower, AirSeas, Anemoi, Econowind, and others are still new, but they are a very visible demonstration of how the industry is changing.But in order to convince shipowners and operators that these technologies can be applied, it needs both good data to show expected results and a good finance model to show the return of investment.As part of that webinar, I heard from Prof. Dr. OrestisSchinas from alternative ship finance firm HHX.Blue who said that the regulations that have recently been approved, namely the EEXI and CII will be drivers for technology investment. And that this should be good news for anyone with investments in cleantech.“Allow me to remind you that the value of the assets, let's say the ships currently in the water, is around $1trn to $1.2trn, and as per the current regulatory requirements, the ones that we expect to have in MEPC 76, and in the near future, almost 80% to 90%, depending on the ship type and size, will not comply with the regulations of EEXI, energy efficient operating index, and the Carbon Intensity index. And this gives a huge, let's say, trigger for financers and operators, to invest in shipping assets gain. “And this is, let's say, what this is also the outcome of the studies and the input that we get from classification societies where practically 90% of the total fleet of existing total made does not comply with the EEDI phase three requirements.“In this regard, bank lending, and generally available capital for debt is decreasing from banks, due to banking and financial regulatory issues, so the leverage of the industry is still 50%. And that means, I mean, right now I'm talking about I'm talking about across segments and sectors. So and that means that it is really challenging for ship owners to raise capital in order to retrofit, or lets say to update with the technology onboard, or build new ships. And this is challenging.“We have concluded an analysis that will be published soon, where around $300bn is the cost of the estimated decarbonisation efforts in assets, for the period 2025 to 2030. That is the day the first period of the compliance with the 2030 goals for the IMO. And we have, as I said, this figure is very close to what other sources estimate. So you can have a range from $250m to $350m, only for, let's say new ships for retrofit in this period and keep in mind that the order book right now most yards worldwide, is, let's say empty. “To cut a long story short, if we estimate $100 billions. That is let’s say the total amount of costs for decarbonisation and to achieve the goals of IMO 2030. And considering that the wind assist technologies are already in, let's say in the list of technologies that are promoted by classification societies, technical experts, etc, etc. And it will consider that only 10% of this budget will be allocated to wind-assist technologies-why because it is easy to let's say retrofit, because it's easy to install, because there is already knowledge and technologyand know how, then we can see that a new market of $30bn potential is generated. “And this is a very interesting point for our colleagues working on the technical aspects for WASP, because unless we have credible data, from a technical point of view, unless we have a credible data on the energy, let's say savings, on the operating profiles. Unless let's say we do our technical homework properly, then our financial calculations are more speculative than, let's say, very well substantiated”. Prof. Dr. OrestisSchinasHHX.Blue talking during the EU funded WASP project webinar recently. Now, there is another option when it comes to wind powered technology and that’s to build a ship that can use the wind for its entire sailing power. A return to sail sounds nostalgic and even romantic, but it can be commercially sound according to Sail-Cargo CEO Danielle Doggett. She and her team are currently building CEIBA a wooden schooner that she says can run commercially and make a profit. Now, this is certainly not a big vessel, it’s cargo capacity under deck is the equivalent of only 9 x twenty foot containers. But size is not everything.The vessel is being built in Costa Rica and everything about it has been thought through in asustainable way. The shipyard where the vessel is being built was built by Sail-Cargo. The ship will be ready to sail next year, so I caught up with Danielle, and we have the full interview in next weeks episode of the Aronnax Show, but here is what she told me about the start of realising her ambition. “Starting this with next-to-no financial backing actually made it more necessary for us to have the answers to every single question, to have planned better to have a stronger foundation to have more, have done more feasibility studies to have every everything figured out. Because we needed our investors to trust us. “It's not easy to say to somebody you've never met, please send $20,000 to this account and Central America where I'm standing in a field. And we have nothing to show for it. So we needed to have those answers. It's something important that you brought up is that we are a for-profit business model, while we do maintain a lot of nonprofit organization goals and values. “But that wasn't the point of this business, we wanted to say exactly, as you said, we can hold up our numbers, and that, you know, it's a much smaller scale, but hold up our numbers and the numbers beside Maersk or any other for-profit shipping company. And we could say, look, we did it, we paid our taxes, we paid our investors, we paid our crew, and we did it, carbon negative. And so that was very, very important for us to be able to say that.”The jungle ship being built in a wooden shipyard on the coast of Jungle Rica. More from Danielle Doggett about the ship, its trade and her business plans in the next edition of the Aronnax Show.So now we have our regular update from Nick Chubb, at Thetius, on some of the other activities that have been shaping the transformation of the shipping and maritime industry over the last few days.“Thanks, Craig. It's been a big week for technology funding. Singapore-based fleet performance startup Alpha Ori closed a $6 million series A round with shipowners, Hafnia and BW Group leading the round. Alpha already develops fleet management tools that help operators to better manage their fleets. The start-up surpassed 100 deployments in 2020. And this latest investment will help them fuel their growth.“Also, raising a series A this week is Israeli start-up Orca AI. The company has developed a collision avoidance system that uses computer vision to help bridge teams to make better decisions and ultimately, to enable autonomous collision avoidance in the future. The $13 million investment was led by OCV partners with Ms Ma Ventures and Playfair capital, also joining around. “Over in the UK the Port of Southampton has announced that is deploying the UK's first private 5G network in a port alongside Nokia and Verizon. The aim is to create an ultra-low latency high security network to enable technologies such as IoT and edge computing that will improve the operation of the port. “Coming back to Singapore now and the Maritime and Port Authority has announced a new $90 million fund for a Maritime Decarbonization Research Center that will be set up in the city. Corporate partners including VW Group, Eastern Pacific Ocean Network Express, and BHP to name a few. Each chipping in around seven and a half million dollars to be part of the program. MPA, Singapore is going to match their contributions. “We just launched a new report on Singapore as a maritime technology ecosystem. One of the key findings is that technology spending is set to grow from 11% of the country's maritime economy to 20% over the next decade, with digital technologies becoming a major source of growth for the country's maritime industry. The 44 page report which was sponsored by Startup Wharf and Inmarsat is available to download for free from our website”.Nick Chubb from Thetius ending this episode of the Aronnax show.And a final personal note. If you like this podcast I would really appreciate it if you could rate it, share it and give it a thumbs up. Such small acts do nothing more than make me feel good and reassure me that people want what we can offer.I’d also encourage you to visit the Fathom World Website (where you can read more on the stories I cover on the podcast) and where you can also subscribe for our ever popular but occasional newsletter.Until the next time, GoodbyeI am grateful to the Wind Assist Ship Propulsion project, funded by the EU North Sea Region funds for permission to use the excerpt from their recent webinar on the project. Details can be found here
Training for autonomoy & electronic lookouts
Season 3, Ep. 5
This episode looks at attracting youngsters into shipping with an apprenticeship focused on autonomy and unmanned ships and how technology can be the eyes and ears of a ship officer on the bridge (as a proposed electornic lookout function).WithGordon Meadow, CEO, SeaBot XREero Lehtovaara, Head of Regulatory Affairs, ABBIndustry updates fromNick Chubb, Founder, ThetiusHostCraig Eason, Fathom.WorldFull transcript belowCraig EasonHello and welcome to the Aronnax Show. This is a podcast looking at the shipping and maritime space. I’m Craig Eason, and I own and edit the Fathom World news site focused on the changing aspects of our industry.I’ll tell you something about myself quickly. I’m an ex-seafarer. I worked as a navigation and deck officer, deep sea on the bridge of many different ship’s and it was a career I was and still am proud of, even if I did not do what so many of my fellow apprenticeship friends did at the time and go on to become master mariners. I chose to go into journalism instead.Over the years the role of the mariner has changed. You can see many articles on Fathom World and find episodes of the Aronnax Show about this transformation as new levels of connectivity and technology have developed. Society itself is trying to tackle this change too, and we have a range of discussions in many corners of many of our industries about autonomy, autonomous systems and so on.Now, I’ve quite often railed against those headlines that state that fleets of ghost robot ships are coming. These are sensationalist headlines. Reality has never got in the way of a good headline.But having said that, the way technology is going and with the discussions at the International Maritime Organization on which regulations prohibit their appearance, we know that something is changing. What is happening though is technology is creating a new dynamic onboard vessel, and yes, they may coalesce into increased autonomy, and even unmanned ships in some corners in the future. But today on this episode of the Aronnax Show I want to look at two things that are happening that are more immediate next steps.Two things are happening on a regulatory front now that I think make a big difference. The first is a pair of submissions that are going into the regulatory body the International Maritime organization that is asking it to consider the idea of an electronic lookout function, something that those supporting the idea believe is a required part of having periodically unmanned ship bridges. And the word ‘periodically’ is important here.The proposal has a lot to do with all round video cameras and elephant ears on a ship. More on that later(Pause)Now, my cadetship was in the 1980’s It involved learning morse code, and how to use Decca and even Loran-C. I remember sat in a former world war military bunker style building in Plymouth England looking at the swirling green radar screens and a Decca chart with its multicoloured tramlines. And yes, the sextant. That’s all history or nearly all, history.Today’s apprentice in the UK still must learn about seafaring and some of the skills of electronic navigation.But it’s getting even more complicated, and now there’s the growing awareness of autonomy. So how do we get kids to leave school and join an industry which on the one hand has been an unpopular choice in recent years, but has the potential to be so so different.In the UK, a group has come together to look at how an apprenticeship can be developed that caters for this. It’s looking at the development of a new type of apprenticeship bearing in mind the increased amount of autonomy that is appearing in civilian and naval craft. That’s not just autonomy on the ship for onboard crew, but also for remote operations. The group was announced last month and consists of the UK’s Royal Navy, the geo-data company Fugru, the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, marine robotics business Ocean Infinity. And it is being chaired by UK advanced training business Seabot XR.Gordon Meadow, CEO Seabot XR told me about the plans and why it is important:Gordon Meadow, SeaBot XRThe apprenticeship is a response in industry need.Operators want to operate in a responsible way, and they have a workforce that has been built on experience at sea, and they're now being given the opportunity to use autonomous systems and new ways of working.So, there's a gap, and this apprenticeship will look towards identifying that skills gap, mapping those competencies and creating a new workforce with more enhanced skills, but this is simply about training the people who are going to be operating vessels today, not about the future, not about, you know, sort of this kind of fanciful idea that, you know, all ships will be autonomous in the next 10 years.This is this is simply about taking a responsible approach to the migration of the workforce, and the workforce is underpinned by seafaring and STCW qualifications -really that's paramount that experience. Now projecting forward 30 -40-50 years any occupation will change, you know, any occupation will change will you need to have gone to see in 50 years’ time, who knows? Bufor the time being the key migration is of this is the current and existing maritime workforce and that knowledge that neds to come with it - that experiential knowledge.Craig EasonNow autonomous craft that the apprenticeship group are looking at are up to around 24 m in length, but there are plans to go bigger, with Ocean Infinity, one of the apprenticeship development group partners already looking at 70 m vessels This apprenticeship looks at it from an operational point of view from how you control them, how you maintain control, maintenance issues.It's important to realise that this programme to develop an apprenticeship is not about international shipping, that requires, as Meadow says work at the IMO on the seafarer training requirements. Many people agree that these need updating, but it would be an enormous task as any changes need to encompass shipping for today as well as the future, and everywhere in the world.Gordon Meadow, SeaBot XRThis UK apprenticeship isn't, isn't based on developing international standards around the world. This is responding to responsible operators operating their craft in and around UK waters and more broadly. But this will capture the operators’ requirements, which we can then feedback up through the system, for the likes of the maritime and Coastguard agency and say look, actually, these are the competencies we have identified through this group. There's also a top-down approach where the MASSPpeople group was launched - I think two weeks ago now - where to Seabox XR, Fugru and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency are founder members. That group consists of a number of flag states and which will look at the standards required internationally, and try and benchmark those standards, and then share those standards, and create new standards and then create recommendations to go to IMO and say, "Look, this, these are the recommendations, we think that should be added in terms of competencies to STCW".Craig EasonIn my interview with Gordon Meadow, he kept the focus on the people, and the need to ensure it is about skills, not systems, robots and software. In his opinion we all need to challenge a rhetoric that machines are good, and the human is bad. Seafaring skills remains as crucial as ever.But it is about a migration of the workforce, about writing down the new skills that existing seafarers will need.Gordon Meadow, SeaBot XRAnd that's, I guess, that's, that's being looked at, to some extent separately, by the you know, but by Maritime UK, they MNTB and that the Maritime Skills Commission, we’re interested in looking at a particular new developing occupation, which is quite a sexy occupation. I think, you know, I think I have always found it to my amazement, that the, there's this sea blindness, and I think, I think they're really trying to make an effort are really trying to make an effort in the UK to be able to remove this Sea blindness and make the industry more attractive to young people and help them to help them to realize that it's there, and this has huge potential and huge, huge opportunity for careers. I know that one champion, one person showing this is Sarah Kenny, from BMT. She's really trying to shine the light and shine a light on this. So, for me, there is a huge, huge opportunity for young people on this to get into a career that would be, you know, a fascinating career to get into it's a new avenue into maritime, and it's also a new avenue into maritime, which would provide perhaps a similar appetite to get involved in for both men and women. And there's two there's a there's a, there's kind of there's a gender equality issue too, as well. And as well, I think there are other opportunities from other people in other sectors who may not have considered career maritime before such as those, you know, those not perhaps seen as physically able to be able to perform. You know, it's not mandatory to to fit a wheelchair ramp on a ship necessarily, but it will be on a remote operation centre. So, so there are lots of opportunities for new entrants into it. I think, with some of the underlying skill requirements you will need as operations centres move forward. And the complexity of them, it will attract other people in the industry. And will there be jobs? Yes, there are because there's already a massive shortage in the industry of seafarers, as we as we will know. So, will there be jobs going forward? Absolutely.Craig EasonGordon Meadow from Seabot XR on the evolution of the seafarer and a new breed of people who will need to work in operation centres, ones who will not necessarily need to walk on the deck. Now while Meadow says these UK initiatives on training and apprenticeship are focused on the new generation, there is still the existing workforce at sea, those spending months on end on a ship. Those on a bridge watch spend those months with a broken sleep pattern, four-hour bridge watches once every twelve hours, with other duties expected to be completed in the non-watch periods. And this is where the idea of a Bridge Zero function first materialised. Yes it can be seen as a step towards unmanned ships, but it has its initial purpose on welfare and safety.It is the idea that under certain times a bridge can be left unmanned while the vessel is underway. Those conditions would have to be very specific- clear visibility, good weather, zero traffic in the proximity etc. Now to allow that situation to be permitted the International Maritime Organization is being asked to accept technology as a suitable replacement for the eyes and ears of the watch officer or a watchkeeper.The proposal is going to come from the European Union into IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, but the idea has been developed in Finland.One of the proponents is Eero Lehtovaara, who is head of regulatory affairs at engineering firm ABB.I have spoken to Eero, a former maritime officer and captain, many times of the years as the ideas for autonomy have developed, looking at how digitalization and autonomy can increase safety for those onboard as opposed to the idea of taking people off the ship.It is an important distinction for Eero and helps frame the discussion. Is digitalisation and autonomy about unmanned ships per-se, or about increased safety and welfare for those on the ship?Eero Lehtovaara ABBIf we're starting to, to do something that will even at some level substitute the human, even if it will be for a shorter period of time, we need to be first of all, we need to be sure that we are right that it's actually better. But then we know that that is something we call the social licence to do to to operate. Meaning that you and I, when we see technology, we expect that technology to be way better than what we can do. And there's this kind of expectation, meaning also that on a modern-day cruiser, or car carrier, you could say that you don't have the best visibility straight behind you. There will be an expectation of full coverage of 360 degrees, and continuous scan and so on. We also learned and this is obviously something where we talk about the scientific research that is far outside of our area of competence. I mean, ophthalmologists, who research the eye, and so on, so we used material that we can find on the subject. And then it was quite interesting in the sense that, first of all, if we are focusing the eyes somewhere, we physically tend to lose everything around us. And you can only focus. I mean, if you're focusing somewhere far, then you tend to lose things that are happening close and vice versa, and so on. Also, if you're focusing on a point far ahead, you're not only lose movement and seeing on the periphery, but that you're very early, also starting to lose colours, which was news for me. Meaning that if you have a theoretical situation where you have a ship coming against ahead of you, or you're in a collision course head-to-head, you focus on that ship. That means that you stop seeing things around you. Obviously with machine learning machine machines doing that, you would not have that issue because they would monitor continuously around you.Craig EasonAnd this is where Elephant Ears and the Snellen chart – you know it as that pyramid of letters at the opticians that decrease in size as you read down. For an optician, a person with normal eyesight has an eight on the Snellen scale and a seafarer must pass an eye test and get more than five. Hearing is also tested.Now hearing is one area where the regulations already allow for technology. This is the Elephant Ears. Quite a few ships are built today with totally enclosed bridges, that means the bridge wings are not out in the open air. One of the requirements under international rules is for ships to have specific audio signals (such as in fog) and an officer or watchkeeper in a totally enclosed bridge will be unable to hear those signals. Hence the development of a technology that is basically a microphone outdoors feeding into a speaker or alarm system indoors.Eero Lehtovaara points to this as a first step in how the electronic lookout function would work, as this and the required cameras that would point all around a vessel would be coupled to a system capable of recognition that there is something there and then sounding the alarm.Eero Lehtovaara ABBWe talk about three different levels or stages. What they are calling the DRI - the detection, recognition and identification. And what we presented in the electronic lookout function is really the D part -detection. So, the aim is to detect that there's something else outside than water. Period. In its lowest level that will make an alarm, and someone, a human will come up and then make the recognition and the identification and after that the decisions. I mean, at this stage, I would say that machines are better today at detecting than people are, but people are way better in recognition than the machines are today and able to make conclusions and take that further into decisions and in actions. So, obviously, we see that if you're ever going to have an unmanned ship, they need to be able to do all of these, based on first detection, what is it what it's going to be doing? How is that reflected into col-regs and so on and so on. But at its lowest level, in order to be able to fulfil the requirements of B-0, just detection is enough. If we can detect that there are things there, then we get the alarm, and somebody is coming to the bridge. And then we will be able to make the necessary right decisions thenCraig EasonEero Lehtovaara on the possible way a manned ship could occasionally sail with an electronic lookout function allowing for a bridge or wheelhouse to be unmanned, while the watchkeeper and officer of the watch do other things.While this potential work at the IMO on the electric lookout function may be for a stand-alone alarm system connected to the OOW who remains on standby if an alarm sounds, there is no doubt this function can be connected to other bridge technology. In its simplest form it is a series of high-resolution cameras giving an overlapping 36o degree coverage of a ship potentially as far as the horizon, going forward this can be part of the further digitalisation of a ship to give even greater situational awareness, with the lookout function an integral part of a digital sensing brain also linked to the radar, GPS, electronic displays and charts as well as other systems.There are smaller vessels already doing this, just look at the Mayflower project with an IBM brain inside is.ENDS
Shipping's future ammonia engine
Season 3, Ep. 4
Hello and welcome to the Aronnax Show a podcast focused nt he transformation of the shipping, maritime and ocean space My name is Craig Eason, and I own and edit the Fathom World website.Today’s show is focused on the efforts being made in the industry to develop the first engines capable of being powered by ammonia.Ammonia is being seen by some as a key fuel for international shipping to decarbonise. It’s chemical composition (one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms in each molecule) mean that it has no carbon that can be formed into carbon dioxide when it is burned in a marine engine. So CO2 emissions are zero.Now I know there are arguments about how environmentally sound ammonia is. Today’s ammonia is largely made from LNG and other hydrocarbons so is grey ammonia, or at best blue. Green ammonia is that which is made using electricity from renewable sources.However, regardless of the ammonia origin, it is the same molecule that is combusted to create power in an engine.Another issue is that of laughing gas. When ammonia is burned it has the potential to produce laughing gas or N20- Laughing gas is a greenhouse gas and much worse than CO2MAN ES in Copenhagen has promised to have an ammonia two stroke engine on the market by 2024.It also announced a recent project to develop a four-stroke engine. My guest on this episode is Brian Østergaard Sørensen who is head of two stroke research in Copenhagen, and responsible for the trials in the company’s test facilities in the Daish capital.I spoke with him just over a year ago when the company announced an enlargement of its test facilities to accommodate increased interest in new fuels.So, I caught up with him to ask about what has been happening in the last year since we spoke and what needs to happen for the industry to get an ammonia engine from MAN.Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah, so, so thanks a lot, Craig for for inviting me back and I'm actually happy to be here today and share some of the insights that has happened over the last over the last 12 months. A lot of activity has gone through has been going on in relation to the development of our ammonia engine, we have come quite far we have established you can say a number of of initiatives together with other partners, we are working closely together with with fuel supply makers with classification societies with universities in the development. So, while we have not had you can say one of our two test engines in the research and the Copenhagen running on ammonia yet, we have done a lot of the initial preparations for this. So, it is preparations in terms of understanding the, you can say, the fuel supply system characteristics. It is dealing with with the safety and the health hazard that ammonia as a fuel is posing and some of the challenges we see in the engine design around that. We have looked at the engine itself. What does it require in terms of materials? What do we need to change? Do we see any immediate challenges here and of course, we have been looking at, you can say more from a theoretical angle, on the combustion characteristics and and started to look into some of the automation algorithms, the performance metrics we will be using. And then we have recently started to look into the emission side as well. And we are in a consortia around that to look at in case you have certain types of emissions you need to deal with -what what would that entail in terms of technical developments?Craig EasonWhen you're looking at the fuel supply side of things, so start at the beginning there in terms of the process of how things would go through the engine - when you're looking at the fuel supply side ammonia would be supplied onto the ship as a liquid. What can you tell me about so far that you know so far about how you would then have that fed into a dual-fuel engine? What sort of temperature what sort of pressures and what sort of considerations would you need to have for that part of the process?Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah, so we believe the storage shoe you can say on board is easier than other types of fuel. So we believe it is well known to to the industry. What we're looking at presently is supply pressure around 80 bar or so in the system. And then we do not see any major challenges handling, you can see it being supplied to to the engine. We have seen other tool fuel type installations where we have dealt with these challenges. So, from that perspective, we do not see major challenges for ammonia. One thing I have to say though is that ammonia Of course, can be a corrosive and we need to handle that and that is why the material part in it needs to be to be dealt with quite carefully. So, so, we have we have generated a fuel specification which which we believe will will be the right one for for our engines and and that is now available and here the one of the important parts is that there needs to be a little water in the ammonia for it it to be compatable with with the materials we currently have.Craig EasonSo, would the ammonia that you're talking about here, would it be the same kind of ammonia that we're seeing supplied to other industries? Is it the same ammonia or would it be a bit like marine fuels today would it be marine grade ammonia?Brian Østergaard SørensenIt will look very much very much the same. There could be something around around purity water content and so on. And that is why we have made this specification to actually be able to to give quite a good guidance on this, but it will not be significantly different from from what you see today.Craig EasonSo,I'm not asking you on the pricing side of things, but there won't be that significant pricing difference between ammonia that is in society and ammonia that is going to be used for marine use.Brian Østergaard Sørensen No we don't we don't believe show that you can say the ammonia available today though is generated from a fossil base and and what we are talking about of course is is green ammonia. But from an engine builder/designer point of view, the molecule is the same. So, whether it is fossil based or whether it is coming from renewable energy for our engine, it does not matter but of course it matters for the overall sustainability of the system you can say.Craig Easonyou mentioned you've looked at the the kind of the theoretical side of the combustion in the engine which you get to construct in the in your test center in Copenhagen What can you tell me about the combustion cycle then of ammonia in these kind of engines?Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah, so, so, what we have we have looked at you can say the LTI concept we are having that is the liquid-to-gas injection platform we have in our engine program. And then we have looked at the characteristics around around ammonia - you can say flame speed, different combustion characteristics, and what do we believe the pilot fuel amount would be what would the flame propagation speed be and so on. And I think that that has been important for us to establish the the starting set of parameters once we start the single sylinder tests. Then of course, during those tests, we will we will challenge the boundaries and we will we will continuously optimize the combustion.Craig EasonOne of the things with LNG of course is methane slip and you've been addressing that with a number of different technologies including exhaust gas recirculation and SCR selective catalytic reduction there are a number of ways that you've been working on NOx and methane slip and other things like that, what would happen with incomplete ammonia combustion? What what do you see is that after emissions part of the ammonia combustion?Brian Østergaard SørensenSo, we still believe we need some sort of after treatment system. So when SCR would would be would probably be a good choice we need to deal with the NOx and some of the active ingredients in in some SCR, the selective category reactors are actually ammonia and we have that in abundance on board. So the NOx needs to be dealt with. And we also believe in this way we can actually deal with the ammonia slip. The challenge will be if we get the generation of laughter gas (N2O) which is a very potent greenhouse gas. So so we do not want to end up with a solution where we have exchanged you can say CO2 as a greenhouse gas with another very potent greenhouse gas. So it's important for us that the footprint -the environmental footprin- is low. And that is why we need to deal with the with the N2O if that is formed. So our first option would be to deal with it through the combustion process and and basically not generate the laughter gas, if that turns out not to be feasible, then we would need some sort of after treatment technology to deal with the with an after gas that it has been done before you can say on shore side. So, it is not completely unknown technology. But then of course needs to be adapted to a marine environment and to the conditions we have we will have as part of the engine system.Craig EasonA lot of the engines that you've been developing over the last 510 years have all been notably dual fuel when it comes to alternative fuels, whether it's ethane, LNG, methanol, they're all they all tend to be dual fuel. Why are you looking almost exclusively at dual fuel? Why not go for single fuel solutions then potentially could have higher efficiency.Brian Østergaard SørensenI think this is also you can say it is all a backup solution for for many ship owners, you can say. Let's say that here in the transition phase and for the next many years, you would not have ammonia available then you would be able to go back to diesel oil for example. So, it gives you more flexibility on the solution on the dual fuel solution. That is one of the reasons we have developed this you can say the dual fuel approach.Craig EasonAnd the the option for dual fuel you mentioned diesel with ammonia here are we looking at simply two fuels are we looking at a multiple option here would in a single engine be able to take two fuels, whichever ones the ship owner decides it wants to have as its options or multi fuel engine. So, you got three fuiels that you could choose fromBrian Østergaard SørensenI think I think many people would like to have that option, I do not see this as as the first generation. This will be you can say this will be either a diesel oil mode or an ammonia mode. And the reason being that some of the the the auxiliary systems would would be different,some of the pressures could be different, maybe the lubrication oil we are using on the engine would have to be different. And that is why it is not just the switch of a button that you can change from LNG for example to ammonia. What we are looking into is to modularize our engine design. So so we make a transition from one to the other as easy as possible in terms of rebuilding or retrofitting an engine, that is something we have an eye for.Craig EasonSo that gives an owner that confidence perhaps that there is a solution, if they go down a particular avenue, there is a solution that is more affordable than actually trying to take out a whole engine, which of course is nigh on impossible on a large ship anyway.Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah. And so, so, this future proofing The engine is one of our you can say one of the mantras we have and then in the design work making sure that that if you choose a conventional engine or or a different second fuel engine today, then it can be rebuilt later on. So, while we will have the first you can say ammonia engine design available in 2024, we will also be focusing on having a retrofit solution available approximately a year later in 2025 allowing for rebuild. And then there are certain preparations you can make and I know a lot of people in the industry is looking into to this,saying you know what, what will have to be done both in terms of of the engine that is our area, but also in terms of tank capacity, in terms of venting areas and so on. So, it goes beyond just the engine or the supply system for the engine. It actually you need to think in the this ship design basically, when you look ahead.Craig EasonYou mentioned the test engine, your test facility in Copenhagen and you haven't built this ammonia engine yet or we haven't converted the engine that you've got in and that's an important distinction - you're not building an engine from scratch here in Copenhagen. You've got two engines and you effectively retrofit them to test capabilities on new fuels. And you've been doing that with the first engine. And it's only recently that you got the second engine in the same process then as well? When do you see yourself starting to do the tests on ammonia in CopenhagenBrian Østergaard SørensenWe plan to start on that during next year, and then we will do it throughout 23. So, we will be starting to run on one cylinder and then you can say test the characteristics on one cylinder and then you move from there to the four cylinders. So, the complete engine and that is how we are normally doing you can say the development. So, a single cylinder will give us a lot of indications around combustion characteristics and so on. And of course, when you then go to the full engine, then then you can really play with the with the control system and then look at the emissions and optimize the performance. So, that is the normal development cycle which we have also used on some of our other other developments like the ME-EA we recently released an ME-GI before that and so on.Craig EasonHow do you then take that engine design then and give it to your partners that build the engines I'm not sure if many people really know this. But as a, you know, as a world renowned marine engine maker, you don't actually make most of the engines- the two stroke engines you have licensees that then make them for you around the world, notably in China, Korea, Japan, where the major shipbuilding takes place. How do you then take this new design for an ammonia engine and show it to them about how to build an ammonia engine to go into a brand new ship.Brian Østergaard SørensenSo, so, basically, we are taking the learnings from our test engine from test centre, and then we build it into a design during that phase, when we are designing you can say, the commercial engine, then then we would for example, team up with a different technical people from from the various licensees, we will make sure that we have the right documentation and then you can say then basically we we built the first commercial engine together and that first commercial engine will actually go into a vessel. What we often do, then, depending on on on the magnitude of the innovations or the development, then there will be some R&D test time for the first prototype engine. That means that where you normally might test for a couple of weeks, then it could be we will be testing for for for a month or two months optimizing you can say that design. But due to the sheer size of these engines, it is simply not feasible to build one demonstration engine and then have that one standing there. So we will be demonstrating you can say the concepts on our test engine. And then the first commercial engine will serve as as a demonstrator if you can call it like that.Craig EasonA lot of the initial evolution of ammonia and hydrogen and these alternative fuel to seeing is happening around the coast, a lot of smaller vessels, coastal vessels, and so on. And that's and they quite often use four stroke engines. And I know that this isn't your area of research and expertise. But I just wanted to ask you about the other project that I saw were announced recently from MAN ES notably in Germany on four stroke engines, because I see there was a marine element to that as well what sort of project is that what sort of project you're involved in there relating to the evolution of a four stroke, ammonia internal combustion engine.Brian Østergaard SørensenSo, we work very closely together with our colleagues in the fourstroke you can say design area and and we share a lot of the data, there are commonalities and then there are things that are different. What we what we are discussing with them and what they are working on is when you look at a ship, you have the main propulsion system, which is often for the large seagoing vessels, two stroke engine, and then you will have power generation engines-gensets- that would often be fourstroke Indians, and I think many ship owners if you want a really zero carbon vessel, you need both actually to have the capability to run on on a zero carbon fuel. And what our colleagues in the fourstroke area is doing is that they are actually looking into, you know, how can we adapt ammonia as a fuel on their platform. And that is the work that they are going into now. They're they're looking into the initial area, what would it take for a four stroke engine to to be adapted to burn ammonia? And then they are looking very much into hydrogen as well. What would it take for for hydrogen to be burned on a four stroke engine? And that is because four-stroke engines are also used on the shore side for power generation, not only on on marine side.Craig EasonWhat what are the expectations here of using hydrogen, in an internal combustion engine in marine environment?Brian Østergaard SørensenI think it's depending a little you can say, on who you ask. We think and we knowit's for sure possible. We think the cost of storage on board and handling it on board would be quite high. And we see ammonia as an effective hydrogen carrier, basically, which is easier to handle on board and it's well known to the industry. And that is why we think that, that for large vessels, ammonia would probably be the preferred choice. But you could see coastal vessels and near-shore shipping going for for hydrogen, where you could bunker more frequently than you would do ona on a global trading vessel.End
Season 3, Ep. 3
In this episode of the Aronnax Show, Craig Eason talks to Mark Cameron, Chief Operating Officer at Irish shipowner Ardmore Shipping about the company's unusual decision to launch a join venture commercial enterprise looking to marinise methanol reformers for shipping.The technology takes liquid methanol and makes hydrogen which can be fed into a PEM fuel cell. The company believes this technology could be used to replace electrical generators and auxiliary engines in ocean going ships and main engines of inland waterway vessels.Additionally we hear brief comment from MAN ES about their new engine. It's an Otto cycle engine as opposed to a Diesel cycle which the company is more known. Like all it engines these days it is dual fuel, able to burn fuel oil and liquid natural gas, but it adds to a portfolio of engines which will soon include an ammonia powered engine. But what is also interesting is the application of exhaust gas re-circulation a technology which, as its name suggests, feeds engine exhaust back into the engine while it is running. MAN ES explains how it improves performance and has an added benefit of reducing methane slip, a weakness of the LNG dual fuel engines that critics have been keen to highlight.Finally we have a regular update from Nick Chubb from Thetius on some of the other news and announcements that underscores the transformation of the shipping and maritime space.Stories covered in this episode can be found on Fathom.WorldMAN ES demonstrates new Otto cycle two stroke main engineArdmore Shipping launches new venture:
Last week there were two noticeable announcements from shipping companies about the types of ships they are going to, or to be accurate could be, ordering in the future, and these were noticeable as these two vessels were a methanol powered container ship and a wind powered deep sea car carrier.As we see the drive to decarbonise society and the shipping industry there is pressure on many sides for more action and less talking. But given the ask, the action has been slow to materialise. As we have heard in previous episodes of Aronnax show the race is speeding up to find new fuels and new ways to create a cleaner more sustainable shipping industry, one that is up to the challenge that society is setting itself.These two announcements from Maersk Line in Copenhagen Denmark and Wallenius Wilhelmsen in Oslo Norway, could, if their promises remain true be seen in the future as some of the first significant steps on this journey.Maersk Line said it will be building a feeder container vessel that will run off methanol. Well, actually it will be dual fuelleld so it will still has the option to use existing fossil bunker fuels as well.Tis is not one of the giant boxships that sail between Asia and Europe and the US, these huge vessels have a nominal capacity of well over 20,000 20 foot containers. This methanol vessel, with 2,000 teu is a lot smaller and run on a regular shuttle feeder route according to Morten Bo Christiansen, who is head of Decarbonisaiton at AP Moller MaerskThe company gave me a short window of opportunity to talk to him about the news, but in that time he told me about the challenges they will face. The group aims to get the vessel in the water and in service by 2023. Christiansen says this order for the ship, and the announcement that all future newbuilds will be dual fuelled for future fuels, which should help fuel makers see the potential market for fuels. The company has told the press that customers using this vessel will see higher rates for cargo, reflecting the current higher costs of ordering such a vessel, and the cost of greener fuels which remain higher than current fossil based fuels.Also last week Wallenius Wilhelmsen said it will also be pushing on with a project o build a wind powered giant car carrier. The challenges are significant, but the company is moving the Oceanbird project that Swedish partner Wallenius Linebegan last year.But it was back in 2005, Norwegian shipowner and manager Wilhelmsen designed a ship it was never intending to build.It was called Orcelle, like the company’s other vessel’s at the time it was a car carrier, but unlike anything else it was a design of a future ship that had sails, alternative power, wave power, solar panels and other technological ideas that were at the time looking unlikely to become reality.The announcement last week was for a vessel it is calling Orcelle Wind, and which it hopes to order next year providing the project meets five key feasibility criteria: Namely that such a vessel makes technical, operational, regulatory, financial and commercial sense. Roger Strevens, vice president of Global Sustainability at Wallenius Wilhelmsen talks about the decision to develop such a radically different vessel. The listed company is majority owned by Wallenius in Sweden and Wilhelmsen in Norway. The Oceanbird project which has led to Orcelle Wind was driven largely by Wallenius in the beginning. Wilhelmsen in Norway has been evolving its own projects within it subsidiaries, including hydrogen fuelled projects and electrification. And in an earlier episode we talked about another joint venture called Massterley which Wilhelmsen runs with Norwegian tech firm Kongsberg.
Stena goes electric and the ammonia report
Season 3, Ep. 1
In the first episode of 2021 we hear about the TransZero Partnership between the Port of Göteborg, Stena Line, Scania and Volvo, especially the decision by the Swedish shipowner to build a pair of battery powered freight and passenger vessels to sail across from the Swedish Port to Denmark. We also look at the potential of ammonia production to meet shipping's potential demand for the fuel, providing it can be made from renewable hydrogen.Voices in this episode:Craig Eason, Host & Editorial Director, Fathom WorldStena LIne CEO Niclas Mårtensson (clip in Swedish)Port of Gothenburg CEO Elvir DzanicStephen Crolius, President, Ammonia Energy AssociationTrevor Brown, Executive Director, Ammonia Energy AssociationNick Chubb, Founder, Thetius
Seamanship is dead, long live the seafarer
Season 2, Ep. 7
This particular podcast episode looks at two stories that have been in the news. One deals with changing definition of seamanship in connection with the technologies, and the other the search for technologies to help seafarers.First we have an academic paper published in Norway (NTNU) which has raised the question about what seamanship is ….and whether it is the right word to be using in modern shipping.Then we look at how fatigue, tiredness, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the mandatory requirements for rest hours have led to new technologies from software startups to give seafarers a better life onboard their vessels by making them aware of their own health and linking this to onboard productivity In this episode we hear from:Torgeir Haavik Research Professor, NTNU Social Research,Trondheim, Norwayhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/torgeir-kolst%C3%B8-haavik-b6bb1a1b3/ Trond Kongsvik, Professor, NTNU, Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management https://www.linkedin.com/in/trond-kongsvik-4758972/ Stuart Willis, CMO and Hours of Rest Hero, Work Rest https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuart-willis-867196b8/ Arshia Gratiot, Founder & CEO, Canary Sentinel https://www.linkedin.com/in/arshiagratiot/ Nick Chubb Founder and Managing Director, Thetius https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickchubb/ Host:Craig Eason, Owner and Editorial Director, Fathom Worldhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/cragson/
The fight against greenwashing
Season 2, Ep. 6
This show is all about greenwashing, and in particular a drive coming out of Norway to get companies, all companies, to be more honest about the environmental impact of their products and services. Greenwashing is not a Norwegian issue, but there is one organisation in Norway that has now got a few hundred companies to sign a pledge to adhere to ten key principles of greenwashing.SKIFT is a membership organisation of Norwegian industry leaders.Its goal is to attract the most climate ambitious businesses in the country so that it can demonstrate that businesses can reduce emissions and move to a low carbon economy with innovation rather than too much regulation.The ten principles it is asking corporates to sign up to encourage them to ensure they take more care with their choice of words and their actions.SHIFT now wants to make these principles more international and think some of the work in Europe . such as recent European sustainability taxonomy will be a great help in what they hope to encourage businesses to do voluntarily.I spoke with Skift CEO Bjørrn Haugland about the campaign, its objectives, particularly as it seeks to gain international momentum and how he sees it applying to the ocean and shipping businesses, as well as how he can make sure signing up to a code against greenwashing is not in itself greenwashing. (We also talked about the lobby groups and how they use choice words to influence opinion).