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ABS, OceanFinance and SSLC to adapt space technology for LNG industry

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LNG Industry,

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has announced that it has joined forces with OceanFinance and Scorpius Space Launch Co. (SSLC) on the SPACE TECH4SEA project to adapt composite technologies developed for the space industry to the LNG industry.

The project has attracted over €1 million in funding from the European Commission, and aims to apply lighter, cost-effective composite technology as a competitive alternative in the LNG industry for marine fuel design, especially for short sea shipping.

ABS Vice President for Global Gas Solutions, Patrick Janssens, said: “ABS remains at the forefront of LNG innovation by partnering with ground-breaking companies all over the world. Existing LNG tank technology can make adoption of the fuel prohibitively expensive. 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.”

The three-year project will adapt SSLC’s PRESSURMAXX composite tanks for marine applications based on its current use in a range of industries. Composite carbon fibre technology enables the development of ultra light compact tanks, making LNG as fuel more feasible for a broader range of marine vessels.

Managing Director, OceanFinance, Dr. Panayotis Zacharioudakis, said: “This technology is a game-changer product that will unlock latent demand for LNG as marine fuel. The benefit of leveraging this US space technology, to improve the environment in European Sea basins, is obvious. We expect introduction of this innovative product will enable sales of more than 2000 tanks in the next 10 years.”

SSLC President and CEO, Markus Rufer, added: “Composite technology can make LNG a compelling choice for shipowners. The size and weight of existing technology reduces capacity and increases the need for additional horsepower. Composite tanks will remove these issues, offering significant improvement in vessels’ OPEX and CAPEX, making LNG as a marine fuel viable for a wide range of marine applications.”

According to the statement, the trio’s goal is to develop tanks that attract both newbuildings and LNG-as-a-marine-fuel retrofits by reducing costs and weight, as well as increasing the vessels’ cargo capacity. The technology offers weight savings of up to 80% compared to existing LNG tank designs. It is also not affected by corrosion, and introduces space technology safety standards to marine operations.

The tanks are currently made by hand, but the project is planning to transition to a highly automated production line to make sure pricing is competitive. Engineers from ABS’ Global Ship Systems Center in Greece will provide the rules, regulations and standards under which the composite tank technology can be approved for marine applications, reviewing the designs submitted by SSLC.

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