The initiative, which evolved out of the Danish government’s Plan for Growth in Blue Denmark (first published in 2012), brings around 40 diverse partners together to promote energy efficiency and greener shipping.
“Overall it’s progressing very well,” says Magnus Gary, Blue INNOShip’s program manager, whose role is to oversee the various projects under its umbrella. “The results in some projects they’re not as brilliant as we had hoped they would be, but others, such as the shore-based liquefaction plant, have exceeded expectations. Collaboration between the partners has gone ok, as it usually does when companies work together.
“But in my personal view it could be better. They could work together more closely together and achieve more. From the things that you can control it goes fine, in terms of milestones, and people are achieving what they promised to do. So, results and progress-wise everything is going more or less as planned, and some of the projects have shown better results than we expected from the offset.”
Including an already complete pre-study on the use of fibre-reinforced plastic in Danish shipbuilding, Blue INNOShip comprises 15 projects. These are categorised in five ‘Work Packages’: Ship Design & Propeller Solutions, Performance & Monitoring, Alternative Fuel Solutions, Emission Reduction Technologies and Servitisation & Retrofit. April 2016’s edition of The Naval Architect (p.26-28) took a closer look at the Trailer CAT project to build a low-emission catamaran trailer ferry, which is scheduled for completion in the middle of 2018.
Another project – due to be concluded this year – is the Dynamic Propeller Shaft Speed Control concept. Led by Maersk in partnership with Propelco, Wärtsilä Lyngsø Marine and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the project has revealed that significant inflow variations to the propeller occur in waves and in beam seas. In response, a control system has been developed to dynamically regulate propeller shaft speed to counteract efficiency losses caused by wave inflow variations. An initial sea trial has determined that the technology could represent a fuel saving of >0.7% on Pacific voyages. The results of a second trial are now being analysed.
Remarking on the development process, Gary says that larger companies are committed, but tend to take a pragmatic approach to their investments in the projects. “When we created Blue INNOShip we had to have a certain number of key partners who were willing to invest a particular sum of money; for example Alfa Laval, Maersk, TORM, MAN Diesel & Turbo and OSK-ShipTech … Maersk are very focused on participating [in] projects where it’s in their line of business and they see a clear benefit and there’s a measurable result. With some of the other projects, for example MAN Diesel are participating in a Gas Valve Train project – a small component going into the engine parts and their portfolio of solutions – they’re more open-minded about what can be done. But shipowners need something that works here-and-now, whereas Man Diesel is a technology provider and therefore also need to explore technologies to be able to stay on top of the market.”
This means that some of the more ambitious projects fall by the wayside. “There was for example a project for capturing waste heat and using [it] on different places onboard the ship but there weren’t any key partners for whom the technology was close enough to their core business, which was sad as the concept appeared interesting.”
Indeed, as a fully-matured model for promoting green innovation Gary admits that the technologies explored in Blue INNOship could be more radical: “I’d also be so blunt as to say that some of the projects we are doing are not pushing the limits for the technology very far. It’s more next step than two steps ahead. We could, for example, be looking at real alternative energy sources instead of creating LNG from natural gas or how to improve LNG engines. But that is of course what you get when a large part of the focus is on commercialisation and job creation.”
In general the consensus has been positive and it’s likely there will be future iterations of the initiative. Gary reflects: “If you asked me a couple of months ago I would say I don’t know, but it seems there’s a lot of interest in continuing both commercially and politically.”
Gary is hopeful that improvements can be made to the overall collaborative process. In his view, project partners should have a vested (financial) interest in each other’s work, but steps could be taken to ensure that commercial partners planning to exploit any resultant technology receive a smaller allocation of the funding. In addition, he would like a new emphasis on the educational benefits Blue INNOShip was designed to stimulate. “The way we’ve set up collaboration both in this industry and others is inefficient from a learning point of view. It works from a ‘get things done’ point of view but you miss a lot of learning opportunities. When we’re talking about a publicly-funded project there could be more focus on the process of how to get to the results rather than the results themselves.”