“Overall Blue INNOship performed extremely well compared to what we had expected,” reflects Magnus Gary, who oversaw the collaboration between more than 40 project partners on 16 different projects, with funding in part from the Danish Maritime Fund, Innovation Fund Denmark and D/S Orient’s Fund. “That was both because we got better results than we had anticipated but also the whole collaborative process between the partners.”
In March, Blue INNOship held its final conference at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Copenhagen, with many of the project partners fulsome in their praise of the efficiency with which the project was managed. Gary believes a critical part of that was ensuring their time was being used productively. “It was very important that nobody ever felt a report they wrote wasn’t going to be used,” he says.
As previously covered in The Naval Architect (see April 2017), the Blue INNOShip projects were divided into a number of sub-categories covering ship and propeller design, performance monitoring, alternative fuels, emission reduction and servitization. They ranged from modest feasibility studies to concept designs, but for the most part emphasis has been on pragmatic research.
For example, a collaborative project led by engineering firm Eltronic and MAN Energy Solutions, successfully developed a gas valve train that would make it possible to increase the pressure of gas injected to two-stroke engines from 30 MPa to 60 MPa. “Both companies are very happy and have integrated it into their commercial products. Nobody is likely to ask for a 600bar gas engine right now, but they’ve pushed the limit for what was possible.”
While around 30% of the partners are planning to market products based on research from Blue INNOship, a number yielded useful results without necessarily being ready for commercial exploitation. Another project involving MAN, this time working with DTU and Danish Technological Institute (DTI), found through combustion modelling that it was possible to reduce unburned methane in a gas engine by 40%. Albeit, the partners have yet to find a shipowner willing to participate in practical application.
As an initiative partly funded by Danish taxpayers, Gary feels it was important to deliver meaningful results even if not entirely successful. A project between coating manufacturer Hempel and DTI hoped to achieve a more controlled release rate for biocides in hull coatings by encapsulating it in silica, thereby extending the coating’s longevity. When the initial technology approach failed, enough time remained to try two further approaches. Although these too have been unsuccessful it’s formed the basis for further collaboration between the two partners.
By contrast, there is one project in particular that he points to as a resounding success: the Vessel Performance Decision Support tool. The project brought together ship operators TORM and Lauritzen with analysis specialists Vessel Performance Solutions for the development of a performance management platform. “It was apparent halfway through that they’d hit a goldmine. The analysis engine allowed the shipowners to save up to DKK100 million (US$15 million) a year in bunkering costs, which was also more than 100 tonnes of CO2 per year.”
In conclusion, Gary admits that while overall Blue INNOship has been an exercise in the benefits of collaboration, even more could have been achieved if additional partners were willing to think outside the box and learn more from each other.