Air Bubbles reduce Ship’s Fuel Consumption

First Bulk Carrier Featuring MALS Delivered to ADM
First Bulk Carrier Featuring MALS Delivered to ADM

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), a US-based specialist in grain processing, has taken delivery of the first new bulk carrier developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) that uses air bubble lubrication system. 

MHI’s proprietary Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS) reduces frictional resistance between the vessel hull and seawater using air bubbles produced at the vessel bottom. The solution has enabled a 27% reduction in CO 2 emissions, as verified, compared to conventional bulk carriers, exceeding the target figure of 25%.

The innovative vessel was built by Oshima Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. of Nagasaki, an MHI licensing partner.

The newly delivered bulk carrier is the first of three vessels, designed to serve as grain carriers, ordered by ADM in 2011 from Sumitomo Corporation.

Delivery of the three vessels is scheduled for completion by mid-2015. The carriers are 237 meters (m) in length, 40m in width, and 12.5m in designed draught: deadweight tonnage (DWT) is approximately 95,000 tons.

The new vessel also features a new bow shape designed to reduce wave-making resistance.

For propulsion, an innovative system is adopted that effectively converts the main engine power into propulsion power by positioning fins forward of the propellers and placing special grooves in the propeller boss cap. The ship’s shallow draught facilitates MALS’s pursuit of energy savings and CO 2 emission reductions.

In MALS, the air blown from the vessel’s bottom produces small air bubbles that cover the vessel’s bottom like an ‘air-carpet,’ reducing friction between the hull and seawater during navigation.

The system was developed by MHI with support from ClassNK (Nippon Kaiji Kyokai) et al., and it has already been adopted in module carriers, ferries and other ships constructed by MHI.

‘In this way MALS has built up a solid track record demonstrating the effectiveness of its technologies in reducing fuel consumption and easing environmental loads. Seafaring tests have already verified that MALS achieves the target level of performance in the newly delivered bulk carrier, ‘ MHI said in a release.

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