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ABS grants AIP to SpaceTech4Sea composite LNG tanks

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LNG Industry,

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has announced that it has granted approval in principle (AIP) to SpaceTech4Sea for the conceptual design of carbon fibre LNG fuel tanks.

It is a key milestone for the SpaceTech4Sea project, which sees ABS, OceanFinance and Cimarron Composites joining forces to adapt composite technologies developed for the space industry to the LNG shipping industry. It is backed by €1 million from the EU, and explores whether composite technology, which is lighter and more cost-effective, can provide a competitive alternative in LNG as a marine fuel designs (largely for short sea shipping).

The joint team’s goal is to create tanks that will attract new buildings and LNG as a marine fuel retrofits by cutting costs, reducing weight and increasing vessels’ cargo capacity. Although the technology can have a wide range of applications, the SpaceTech4Sea project focuses initially on high speed vessels with small to medium tank capacities. It offers weight savings of up to 80% over existing equivalent LNG tank designs, is not affected by corrosion, and also introduces space technology safety standards to marine operations.

According to the statement, Attica Group (the owner of Superfast Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways and AML) is following SpaceTech4Sea closely, and evaluating the feasibility of the technology for future projects.

ABS Vice President for Global Gas Solutions, Patrick Janssens, said: “The potential of this technology to reduce barriers to the utilisation of LNG as fuel for short sea shipping is significant. This composite technology has proven itself in other industries; we are committed to learning how to safely apply those lessons to benefit the maritime industries.”

Cimarron Composites Owner and Chief Executive, Tom Delay, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to apply our aerospace heritage to a marine application. Reducing the mass of components is very important to both aerospace and marine applications.”

Ocean Finance Managing Director, Dr. Panayotis Zacharioudakis, said: “It is in our future plans to examine the commercial application and see how this game-changing product will benefit the maritime industry. LNG as marine fuel has just won a strong ally.”

Costis Stamboulelis, Executive Management Advisor, Newbuildings & Development, Attica Group, said: “The AIP of the ultralight composite tanks for marine use constitutes a major factor in the design and increases the potential of using them both in retrofits and in new buildings of weight sensitive LNG-fuelled vessels.”

Currently, the tanks are built by hand. However, the project is planning to adopt a highly automated production line to ensure a competitive pricing level. The AIP provides guidance on the analysis and testing required by the rules and standards under which the composite tank technology can be approved for marine applications.

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