TMT unveils hybrid propulsion system that reduces need for ballast water

Today Makes Tomorrow (TMT) has unveiled its chairman Nobu Su’s latest invention: a hybrid propulsion system that aims to mitigate marine pollution by reducing the required volume of ballast water by 90%.

The system was presented today at the Ballast Water Management Summit, held in Athens as part of Posidonia. Nobu Su was scheduled to appear but was unable to attend, and was understudied by his colleague Maxim Mazhutis.

The system, known as Hybrid Ship, consists of the ship’s conventional propulsion system plus retractable duct propellers, which can be retrofitted and can be installed on any vessel, Mazhutis said.

The retractable propellors, which have a 4-metre draft below the vessel’s hull, essentially negate the need for such a large volume of ballast water to lower the main propeller into the water.

While in “hybrid mode”, the vessel sails using electrical generators and the retractable duct propellors installed on its hull, in addition to its main engine and propeller.

The extra source of propulsion also reduces the vessel’s fuel consumption and therefore its carbon dioxide emissions, Mazhutis continued, because less energy and a smaller volume of ballast water are required to meet the vessel’s desired speed.

Mazhutis said the hybrid system allows vessels to sail with little or no ballast water onboard and has already been fitted to all of TMT’s VLCCs.

A VLCC fitted with the system, such as TMT’s A Whale, that has a draft of 21 metres while fully loaded and 11.6 metres while in ballast would typically have a draft of 4 metres for the vessel’s hull plus another 4 metres for the retractable propellers, the conference heard.

“If we use Hybrid Ship as an industry standard, this may lead to a change in global shipping routes,” Mazhutis said. “From West to East the vessels will go in full load; from East to West the vessels will go in ballast mode, which will increase the efficiency of all shipping chains.”

Su designed the system to reduce pollution to the marine environment from contaminated ballast water, and feels the best solution to ballast water management is to use as little water as possible, rather than chemical treatements, Mazhutis said.

Su has patented the design in 25 shipping nations so far.


A video demonstration of the system can be viewed on YouTube here.



Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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