Vale & Silverstream riding on wave of air with bubble project
The first VLOC fitted with an air cushion to cut fuel use and emissions has completed its first voyage. The new technology on the 325,000-dwt VLOC Sea Victoria (built 2021) is part of ambitious plans by charterer Vale and maker Silverstream Technologies to expand the use of the carbon-cutting system. The Silverstream air lubrication system produces a carpet of bubbles to reduce friction between the hull and water, and will be assessed over a one-year period with results verified by classification society Lloyd’s Register. Ten compressors were installed on the ship’s deck to send air to 20 bubble-producing devices under the hull when the system was fitted on the Pan Ocean-owned Sea Victoria at a cost of USD 5.5 million.
Vale’s ships are on long-term contracts of affreightment, but the group has paid the entire cost of the pilot installations of the Silverstream technology as well as the Norsepower rotor sails it has fitted on another VLOC newbuilding owned by Pan Ocean. It has negotiated ways to measure fuel-saving gains in the contracts.
Silberschmidt hopes for conversions on existing vessels in the range of 50 to 100 ships over the next five years, he added.