NYK displays its vision of a decarbonised car carrier

Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) has unveiled a concept car carrier in its ongoing bid to decarbonise its fleet.

The emission-free vessel — dubbed the NYK Super Eco Ship 2050 – is an update to a 2009-designed concept ship for 2030.

The power needed to operate this futuristic looking mode of transport has been cut by 70% by remodelling the hull to decrease water friction, reducing the weight of the hull, introducing fuel cells for electric propulsion, and relying on other highly efficient propulsion devices. Instead of fossil fuels, power for the ship would come from solar energy and hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources, all of which would lead to a reduction of CO2 by 100% and thus result in a zero-emission vessel.

The weight of the hull is reduced by optimisation through a dynamic, mathematical design that uses lightweight materials for the superstructure. In addition, computer-controlled devices, such as gyro stabilisers, are installed to provide active stability for the lightweight vessel hull.

An air-lubrication system effectively reduces the frictional resistance between the vessel’s bottom and the seawater by means of bubbles generated by supplying air to the vessel’s bottom. And automatic hull cleaning during port stays prevents any negative impact on vessel efficiency.

Propulsion efficiency is increased by replacing conventional propellers with flapping foils that mimic the movements of dolphins.

The ship is powered by hydrogen fuel cells produced from renewable energy sources. Waste heat recovered from the fuel cells is also used. On long voyages, solar power can be utilised.

Maintenance is managed through use of digital twins, a technology that realises physical conditions digitally and enables real-time analyses from land offices, accident prevention, and optimal maintenance.

Optimisation of route planning would no longer be a ship-level activity in NYK’s maritime vision of the future. It will be done at port and on a fleet level, which will enable just-in-time arrival throughout the supply chain. Automatic mooring and efficient ship-to-ship cargo handling will minimise port stays.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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