Air Lubrication- a go to Technology for Fuel Savings in Maritime

5 mins read  Sealuminati TeamSeptember 27, 2021

Silverstream manager Noah Silberschmidt said Air Lubrication would be a regular feature of new construction ships soon. He spoke to the Seatrade Maritime News following the announcement of the company's largest contract to date - a contract for more than 30 ships with a container line MSC for new vessels being built on shipping ports in China and South Korea.

Following several years when successful pilot projects have been completed and installation is being done with companies including Shell, Carnival, and Grimaldi, the company's Silverstream System orders are now coming in large quantities and quickly. Substantial contracts are designed for 67 vessels. Silberschmidt expects to close another 10-15 deals in the last quarter. And the company intends to install 100 or more installations by 2022. Silverstream has been rising for some time, but the pace has been much faster since the MSC agreement was formed six months ago. Meanwhile, more new ships arrived, with Silberschmidt emerging, as the liner company pursues an aggressive expansion strategy that may see it overtake the Maersk Line as a primary container line by 2022, according to some estimates.

London's Silverstream employees - currently 56 - have relocated to the new London high-tech office in Marylebone, which is a short distance from the small Silberschmidt workshop located on the other side of the city a decade or so ago. A new office will be set up in SE Asia on the other side of the globe to connect and ship to China and South Korea. Silverstream chief executive explained some of the reasons why the program is now running. He believes the first customer status is an essential factor, citing their "Tier One" status and ability to validate the system as necessary for other shipowners and operators to see.

A fuel-saving strategy is probably another important point. "We like to be extremely promiscuous and over-indulgent," he said, explaining that actual savings are always guaranteed by the company itself, third parties, and, most importantly, by its customers. This cautious policy, when it comes to fuel economy, is very different from other technology providers. The program has other advantages as well. Silberschmidt has revealed that the company is working in partnership with two ocean-going companies - low-pressure forcing is dramatically reduced by bubble flow. The system also has a wide range of noise reduction and vibration.

Silverstream cites the average fuel savings of 5-10% possible, depending on a variety, including frame and operating profile. MSC vessels may show savings below the range, but savings will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars based on 25 years of life and current fuel prices. Meanwhile, the latest tests on Shell's LNG manager have made about 7.5% savings, Silberschmidt said. At these levels, there is a significant financial gain and a significant export benefit.

Continuing on the decarbonisation delivery route, as low-energy or zero-carbon fuels are taken, the benefits will focus mainly on finances, not on emissions-related benefits. However, as the cost of new fuel prices is likely to be higher in fuel prices today, the Silverstream System will have more appeal, with shorter returns. Although the prestigious MSC contract includes new vessels, Silberschmidt is keen to highlight opportunities to improve the performance of existing ships through recycling. This market share is likely to grow exponentially as owners and operators decide on strategies to meet IMO targets for determining capacity. The Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), for example, will strengthen slightly from January 2023, when it goes into operation, until 2030.

A series of successful retrofit projects have recently been completed, except the epidemic challenges, on shipping ports in Europe, the Middle East, Singapore, and China. They need to be carefully planned but not too difficult. "That's one of the things I'm most proud of," Silberschmidt said. "We never failed at any time during Covid. We plan and deliver."