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  December 28th, 2015 | Written by

Sustainable Shipping

Container Ship Lowers Fuel Costs by 30 Percent with Nanotechnology Based Insulation Coating

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  • Coating was documented to reduce the diesel used to heat a vessel’s heavy fuel oil system by 30 percent.
  • Coating saved $3,525 in fuel for a 21-day voyage.
  • Use of coating could reduce emissions by one vessel by 24 tons on a 21-day voyage.

Fuel is a significant operating cost of any container carrier or other maritime vessel, so changes in fuel costs can dramatically impact a company’s bottom line.  According to TSACarriers.org, “Fuel accounts for 60 percent or more of total voyage operating costs for a typical scheduled container service.”

A U.S. manufacturer and European marine services company saw the potential to significantly lower these fuel costs using a nanotechnology based insulation coating, and they succeeded in reducing diesel fuel use by thirty percent.

On board the 3,725 TEU container vessel, Zenith, it was calculated that approximately 1,200 liters of diesel fuel was used to heat the heavy fuel oil (HFO) system per day. The cost of heating at the November 2015 price level would be $564 per day. A ground breaking insulation coating technology turned out to be the answer for Yang Ming Marine, who lowered its fuel costs by 30 percent with a return on investment in just 95 sailing days.

NTA Maritime, based in The Netherlands, provides cost saving solutions to the maritime industry. In their research for new and innovative technologies, they found a patented nanotechnology based temperature control coating (TCC) by U.S. company Industrial Nanotech, Inc. which had been used in building and manufacturing industries since 2004 and had been providing significant cost savings by reducing energy consumption and lowering maintenance and replacement costs. They saw a connection between Industrial Nanotech’s High Heat coating used for steam pipes and tanks and the ability to insulate the HFO system to save costs aboard ships.

The performance qualities of the coatings comes from a micro-scale particle with nano-scale internal architecture and surface chemistry. This particle has the dual benefits of being a poor conductor of heat (acting as an insulator) and being hydrophobic (water hating), making it resistant to corrosion and moisture. The technology incorporates this particle into a high quality, translucent, water-based acrylic resin system that allows the particle to be applied to surfaces up to 204C/400F.

The Industrial Nanotech High Heat coating was applied to the exterior of the HFO system, which heats diesel to power the ship.  They coated the HFO tanks and related tubular system with six coats, which amounts to 0.20 millimeters dry film thickness. The High Heat was then overcoated with a marine top coat to protect it from salt water.

The results of the field study were significant. The High Heat coating was documented to reduce the diesel fuel used to heat the HFO system by 30 percent, reducing the daily diesel fuel use by 360 liters per 24 hours, which equates to more than 7,500 liters of diesel fuel saved during a typical 21 day round trip Asia/US/Asia journey, equivalent to approximately $3,525 or more in cost savings.

The cost of application and materials used to insulate the HFO tanks and tubular systems was $16,100. The return on investment was achieved after 95 days of sailing. The insulation coating is projected to last five to ten years without degradation.

Besides the positive impact this has on the bottom line of the vessel operators, it also means great things for the reduction of carbon emissions and running more sustainable ocean voyages. For a 21 day voyage, it amounts to a reduction for one vessel of 24 tons of emissions.

According to Drewry Maritime Research, the total number of container ships amounted to 5,088 vessels as of August 2014, with a capacity of 17.8 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), and according to a Review of Maritime Transport 2014 publication from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, as of January 2014 the world fleet, including all vessel types – cargo, bulk carriers, oil tankers, cruise ships, and others – totaled 47,601. So there is potential for this to be a very significant development for this market both in terms of costs savings and sustainability.

Francesca Crolley writes articles related to sustainability, energy savings, and innovative nanotechnology based solutions.

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