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Damen launches LNG-powered inland shipping tanker

LNG Industry,

Damen Shipyards Group has launched the first LNG-powered Damen EcoLiner inland shipping tanker at its shipyard in Romania.

The EcoLiner will deliver fuel economy for inland shipping operators while reducing emissions. The design of the vessel includes the first installations of the ACES Air-Lubricated Hull, a gas-electrical shaft propulsion system, and a Van der Velden® FLEX Tunnel installation.

EU funding

The European Union is co-financing the project from the TEN-T Programme, with over €1.1 million, as part of the ‘LNG Masterplan for Rhine-Main-Danube’ project.

Damen recently completed comprehensive tank testing of the new design at the MARIN research institute, which confirmed the EcoLiner’s efficiency. Simon Provoost, Product Director Inland Waterway Transport at Damen Shipyards, said that testing how the design combined multiple innovations was very important.


Provoost explained: “After successfully testing at MARIN, we can now complete the build in the Netherlands and we’re talking with a number of interested parties. Fuel accounts for a very large proportion of inland shipping costs, so if operators can save 20% or more, that generates a lot of interest.

“Every part of the EcoLiner has been designed to reduce fuel consumption. That, combined with low-emission LNG instead of marine diesel, makes the EcoLiner easily the greenest inland shipping vessel in Europe. It’s increasingly important for owners and clients to demonstrate sustainable operations and prepare for future ‘green corridors’ subject to inland emissions regulations.”

Modular design

The EcoLiner project is managed by Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld. Commenting on the vessel’s modular design, Rob Schuurmans, Project Manager, said: “With the hull built in Romania and installation and outfitting of all main systems in the Netherlands, including all generator-gas engines, power management, propulsion and steering gear, we make efficient use of our specialised facilities. The ship is 110 m long and is Bureau Veritas-classed. Delivery is scheduled in the summer of 2015.”

The first EcoLiner will be delivered as a tanker, however the modular design can be built to transport any commodity, including containers and dry bulk. The complete LNG installation, including tanks with bunker capacity of approximately 45 m3, is located aft of the accommodation, ensuring that the configuration can be tailored to customer requirements.

ACES hull

The EcoLiner is the first vessel to feature the ACES (Air Chamber Energy Saving) air-lubricated hull. In tank testing and full-scale trials, the ACES concept has demonstrated dramatic fuel savings of up to 15%, depending on speed and load.

Provoost explained: “People often think of air lubrication as bubbles running underneath the hull. But ACES is very different. The air is held in chambers under the hull and you push a small amount of air into the chamber to compensate for any air that might escape while underway. It’s a simple concept, but delivers substantial savings.”

LNG/electrical propulsion

The EcoLiner is the first to combine LNG-fuelling with electrical shaft driven propulsion and steering gear instead of electric driven rudder propellers. The EcoLiner is also the first Damen vessel delivered with the Van der Velden® FLEX tunnel.

“The inland shipping industry has shown the most success with relatively conventional propulsion installations,” Provoost said. “Our aim was to get the highest efficiency with the least maintenance – that’s why we’ve gone for a modern take on proven engineering. Installing the retractable Van der Velden® FLEX tunnel further increases fuel efficiency.”

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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