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Japanese battery startup, PowerX, Inc. has unveiled the detailed design of the first-ever ‘Battery Tanker’ at the ‘Bariship’ International Maritime Exhibition held in Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The inaugural ship “X” aims for completion by 2025, with domestic and international field testing planned to commence in 2026.
Furthermore, a new company called ‘Ocean Power Grid Inc.’ will be established in the third quarter of 2023 to advance the maritime power transmission business utilizing Battery Tankers. This company will own, sell, and operate the battery tankers in Japan and abroad. PowerX is seeking business partners worldwide for this new technology and business endeavor.
PowerX has signed a memorandum of understanding and a Partnership Agreement with Kyushu Electric Power Co., Ltd. and the City of Yokohama to pursue the novel maritime power transmission concept and achieve carbon-neutral ports.
The first Battery Tanker is scheduled for domestic and international field testing starting in 2026. This electric propulsion vessel boasts a length of 140 meters and will be equipped with 96 containerized marine batteries, providing a total capacity of 241MWh.
The onboard battery system is based on our proprietary module design, featuring safe and reliable lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells that ensure a lifespan of over 6,000 cycles. Additionally, the battery system is highly scalable, allowing for the installation of additional batteries to create larger electric transport vessels such as Power Ark 1000 or even larger sizes to meet specific mission requirements. The system includes dedicated gas emission control and fire suppression mechanisms to ensure safety. Real-time monitoring of the battery system, charging controllers, and power conversion systems further enhance safety measures. All batteries will be manufactured in-house in Okayama Prefecture and are scheduled to obtain international ship classification certifications and applicable standards such as DNV and Class NK, undergoing rigorous testing to meet the strictest conditions. Delivery of the batteries is scheduled to commence by mid-2024.
The Role of Battery Tankers:
Its onboard battery systems allow Battery Tankers to store and transport surplus electricity generated from renewable sources. Decommissioned or idle thermal power plants located near ports can be retrofitted into charge/discharge points for the Battery Tankers, where the power is transmitted to users via grid connections on the land, enabling further effective use of renewable energy.
Moreover, areas with high potential for renewable energy generation are often distant from urban areas and regions with high power demand. Strengthening transmission infrastructure becomes essential in such cases. Given the current energy density of lithium-ion battery cells, the Battery Tanker is an optimal solution for short-distance maritime power transmission from land to land, complementing existing inter-regional grid transmission lines. For instance, in Japan, a Battery Tanker can carry power from regions with high renewable energy supply potential, such as Kyushu and Hokkaido, to high-demand areas of Honshu or for inter-island power transmission.
Battery Tankers will establish new power transmission networks across the sea, promoting renewable energy storage, supply, and utilization. As the energy density of batteries improves and their cost decreases, it is expected that longer-distance maritime transmission from offshore wind power plants to the land will become feasible. Battery Tankers offer a practical solution, especially in Japan, which is prone to earthquakes and has deep-sea surroundings. The ship-based solution resolves issues such as extended downtime from undersea cable malfunctions and repairs and the high costs associated with ultra-high voltage connections and substations. As a result, the Battery Tankers will enable the installation of offshore wind farms in areas where undersea cable deployment was once challenging. Using maritime power transmission via Battery Tankers can address various challenges associated with offshore wind power, not only in Japan but also contribute to the widespread adoption of renewable energy worldwide.
Damen to supply Air Cavity System to Amisco for reduced emissions
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Damen Shipyards Group announced the first sale of its innovative Damen Air Cavity System to Amisco. With its ambition to become the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder, Damen has developed DACS to support maritime operators in their efforts to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Damen will retrofit the DACS system to Amisco’s cargo vessel Danita in Tallinn, Estonia. DACs is an air lubrication system, borne out of a collaboration between Damen and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). It maintains a thin layer of air over the flat bottom of a vessel’s hull, reducing resistance in the water, thereby lowering drag and friction. As a result, the efficiency of the vessel is improved with fuel consumption reduced by up to 15%.
DACS offers vessel operators a straightforward solution, for both newbuild and existing vessels, to comply with regulations such as the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) as well as the EU Emission Trading System (ETS).
With DACS installed to Danita, Amisco will achieve the CII rating necessary to continue operating in the Baltic Sea in the face of new, stricter emissions regulations. At the same time, the considerable reduction in fuel consumption allows for a rapid return on investment.
“We are excited to partner with Damen and implement this new technology to reduce our emissions,” said Allan Noor, CEO of Amisco. “The Air Cavity System is a game-changer for us, allowing us to lower the fuel consumption and reduce the CO2 emissions of our current fleet. This marks the initial phase in our continuous commitment to delivering value to our partners through our existing fleet, while collectively minimizing the environmental impact across the entire supply chain.”
Rutger van Dam, Sales Manager at Damen Green Solutions, said, “We are proud to introduce this technology to the market. Reducing emissions is crucial for the future of our industry and DACS is a practical solution that can make a real difference.”
During the verification of the fuel saving results, Damen was supported by the IACS class society, RINA. RINA played a pivotal role in verifying the impressive fuel-saving results achieved by Damen’s technology and thoroughly examined the working principle of the air lubrication system.
With RINA’s expertise and rigorous assessment, Damen received independent validation of the significant fuel savings realized through the implementation of Damen air lubrication system. This collaboration has further reinforced the credibility and reliability of DACS technology.
Pino Spadafora, Marine Commercial Senior Director at RINA, said, “Supporting Damen and Amisco in the application of a technology such as the DACS system is an honour for RINA. Fuel optimization is of paramount importance on existing vessels as much as new builds and cooperation within the industry is the way forward to finding new solutions”.
By involving RINA in the sea trials, Damen demonstrated its commitment to transparency, accountability, and excellence.
Sergei Kravtṡenko, Member of the Board at Tallinn Shipyard, one of BLRT Repair Yards, members of BLRT Grupp, said, “We are delighted that our long-term partner – Estonian-based shipping company Amisco has entrusted us with the installation of DACS system on board their vessel Danita. At BLRT Repair Yards, we take pride in our commitment to excellence and innovation in maritime installations. From expertise and decades of experience, our skilled team was ready to handle the project. This cutting-edge technology will definitely enhance vessel performance and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future. And we are proud to have been a part of the deal”.
Seadronix presents AI ship autonomous navigation technology
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Seadronix, a company specializing in artificial intelligence solutions for the maritime industry, introduced the current stage of AI-enabled situational awareness technology at a symposium held by the International Maritime Organization and the Korea Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. The symposium was held at the IMO headquarters in London on May 30th in preparation for promulgating the new regulation, namely Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Code, and paving the way to autonomous ship operation.
The symposium was titled “Making Headway on the IMO MASS Code.” The expert speakers included researchers from institutes in Norway and Finland as well as representatives of global shipbuilding leaders HD Hyundai and Samsung Heavy Industries. Seadronix, leading advanced AI tech for MASS, was the only startup company invited to attend as an expert speaker.
During the symposium, speakers introduced the technological trends and developments of autonomous ships technology in each country and presented policy proposals for the development of the MASS Code.
Seadronix introduced its AI-enabled recognition and sensor fusion technology as a part of its presentation titled “From technology to reality: the implications of commercializing recognition technology considering MASS Code’s situational awareness requirements.” This state-of-the-art situational awareness technology analyzes safe navigation routes in real time by gathering data from various sources, such as vision, LiDAR, RADR, etc., and recognizing obstacles encountered during ship navigation that can assist current manual lookout.
Seadronix’s situational awareness applied solution is already commercialized. The demonstration of its AI Ship Navigation and Monitoring System (NAVISS), operating on the Korean research vessel “Haeyangnuri,” received particularly positive responses.
Seadronix CTO Hankeun Kim said: “It was an honor to be invited as an expert speaker to present the autonomous ship navigation technologies we are developing and to express our opinions on the formation of autonomous shipping agreements and regulations at the IMO symposium. These procedures will significantly affect future international maritime policies. We will continue our research and development efforts so that Seadronix’s technologies may contribute to the international standardization process of autonomous ship navigation.”
Yara Marine develops AI-based semi-autonomous voyage planning system
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Maritime technology company Yara Marine Technologies, Artificial Intelligence application developers Molflow, and Chalmers University of Technology and social science specialists from Halmstad University and Gothenburg University have collaborated over 3 years to develop and trial an AI-based semi-autonomous voyage planning system. Initiated in August 2020, the Via Kaizen project explores how AI and machine learning can enable more energy-efficient voyage planning for ship operators.
Funded by the Swedish Transport Administration Trafikverket, the project utilized pre-existing tools, to enable a higher degree of digitalization and automation in vessel operations. These included Yara Marine’s propulsion optimization system FuelOpt and performance management and vessel data reporting tool Fleet Analytics, as well as Molflow’s vessel modelling system Slipstream. Existing work practices onboard and user needs were analyzed during the design process to ensure the technology facilitated processes and decisions with the greatest impact on energy efficiency.
The resulting system was trialed onboard two vessels, a PCTC car carrier operated by UECC and a Rederiet Stenersen product tanker. The wide-ranging results indicated successful energy efficiency optimization based on estimated time of arrival (ETA), with one of the two trial vessels opting to continue using the system.
Mikael Laurin, Head of Vessel Optimization at Yara Marine Technologies, said, “The Via Kaizen project speaks directly to where shipping is at the moment — where the intersections of digitalization, decarbonization and crewing determine our success in addressing climate change. The use of AI and machine learning to plan and predict energy-efficient voyages has significance for an industry looking to lower emissions while addressing rising fuel costs. Similarly, new technologies can streamline operations but require collaboration and buy-in from stakeholders across the board, necessitating crew familiarization and training, proactive design, and new corporate strategies. As a result, the insights and information gained from the project carry broader significance for our industry’s future.”
The Via Kaizen project demonstrated that incorporating machine-learning algorithms for improved predictive modelling of ship propulsion power can result in more accurate performance forecasting and optimization. It also evidenced the necessity of constructive collaboration between technology developers and users, as well as between ship operators and their customers.
Joakim Möller, CEO at Moflow, said, “The Via Kaizen project afforded an invaluable opportunity to explore and advance industry understandings of the role big data, data handling and model development can play in supporting lower emission strategies and maximized fuel efficiencies. Recent advances in vessel data tracking and analysis, weather information, and more can be used to gauge where operations have the potential to be streamlined. As the maritime industry seeks to utilize good data to inform decision-making, AI and machine learning can play a key role in processing and simplifying available data for clear, actionable outcomes.”
Throughout the trials, crew played a key role in determining the success of energy efficient voyages. This shows the necessity giving ship crews and management every opportunity to engage with, understand and embrace the value of AI-powered ship operation support technology in assisting daily operations onboard and ashore.
Martin Viktorelius of Halmstad University said, “Maritime’s ability to successfully decarbonize is dependent on its highly skilled workforce, and necessitates that we invest in creating seafarer support for digitalization and decarbonization. Clean technologies must prioritize intuitive, user-friendly interfaces and understand existing operations to maximize crew support and uptake of AI-powered solutions. The Via Kaizen project engaged with crew to explore and establish key parameters that crew indicated hindered their support of voyage efficiency.”
Simon Larsson from Gothenburg University said, “The Via Kaizen project documented potential challenges to implementing energy efficient voyages — notably, the impact of crew training and corporate processes that either facilitated or hindered the effective use of AI tools to improve efficiency. These findings are not specific to the project and have wider ramifications for an industry seeking advanced solutions to rapidly reduce emissions. While crew training will afford a much-needed bridge to build understanding and accelerate support for AI-powered voyage efficiency solutions among seafarers, it is just as important that we ensure effective channels of communication with management and corporate processes.”
Following the conclusion of this project, additional funding has been secured from the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova to further explore a selection of its findings. Yara Marine Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yara International.