Ballast-free LNG Carrier Concept Gets LR Approval

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 6, 2017

The maritime industry has taken a step closer toward ballast free shipping with the award of a new approval in principle (AiP) at Marintec China on Tuesday.

GTT and Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co. Ltd (DSIC) received AiP from Lloyd’s Register (LR) for their ballast-free shipping solution, a 30,000m³ B-FREE liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier design, which the developers say could combine environmentally-friendly features, increased efficiency and lower build and operating costs.
“While we are still in the initial stage of the project and the design is subject to ongoing change, the initial results are indicating that we will meet our goal of having a ballast-free ship that is equal to, or better than existing conventional designs,” said Ma Yingbin, Vice Chief Engineer, DSIC. “The cumulative improvements in operating costs coming from the combination of the various innovations and new ideas applied to the design are better than we anticipated, although we should be mindful that this is only the preliminary results phase and we need phase two to further refine and validate the design, we are hopeful this will result in more efficient small-scale LNG carriers.” 
Avoiding the installation of a ballast water treatment system (BWTS) and not having to comply with the Performance Standard for Protective Coatings (PSPC) for ballast tanks, ballast piping, pumps and values would generate build cost savings.
Operational savings should be seen from not having to run and maintain a BWTS, ballast systems and maintain ballast tank coatings, for example.
“The ballast-free was an old idea that GTT had in mind several years ago and we are excited to see it now materialized in a conceptual design,” said David Colson, Commercial VP of GTT. “The first results show that this ballast-free design has also introduced complimentary advantages such as a reduction in the number of cargo tanks, handling equipment, engine power and more.”
Initial predictions show lower fuel consumption compared to ‘standard’ designs as well as lower LNG boil-off due to the GTT membrane, compared to a Type C tank, GTT and DSIC said.
Nick Brown, LR Marine & Offshore Director, said the “truly innovative design” “could bring many benefits to the industry as well as offering a potential solution to one of our most challenging environmental concerns.” 
Brown continued, “This work builds on the JDP we had together for a low-ballast VLCC and also follows on from the work LR did in supporting DSIC to prepare for building LNG carriers using GTT membrane technology.”
According to Yingbin, interest from vessel owners has so far been better than expected: “Interest received from owners and operators so far has exceeded our expectations. We have been consulting some experienced owners for their thoughts and feedback.”
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