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New research collaboration tackling ship hydrodynamics and fuel efficiency

Three-dimensional vortex structures observed in the wake of a cylinder; imposing unsteady hydrodynamic loadings on structure. Such analyses can be employed to optimize new ship designs. Copyright: Agency for Science, Technology and Research Click to enlarge. Click to enlarge.

A new research collaboration between A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), Sembcorp Marine Ltd, University of Glasgow and University of Glasgow Singapore (UGS) aims to improve make a ship’s hydrodynamics and energy efficiency. The four organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate and develop new hull designs for large ocean-going vessels.

Under the three-year MoU, IHPC, Sembcorp Marine Ltd, University of Glasgow and UGS will use computational modelling and visualisation technologies to design vessels with improved hydrodynamics for better fuel efficiency. In addition, they will collaborate and innovate on features to reduce harmful exhaust emissions and discharges by enhancing the vessel’s scrubber and ballast treatment systems. Currently, maritime transport carries about 90% of all international trade and accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Computational modelling and simulation that studies flow behavior of gas in scrubber tower. Copyright: A*STAR. Click to enlarge.

Under this research collaboration, Sembcorp Marine and IHPC will analyse and improve gas abatement technology, using an enhanced scrubber design to address the emission of harmful gases like SOx, NOx, particulate matter and greenhouse gases, in particular CO2, from the ship’s heavy fossil fuel burning combustion engines.

Such designs and technology are also needed to meet the International Maritime Organization’s new 2015 standards on ship-related air pollutants and marine environmental issues.

The collaboration will employ multi-physics computation to build modelling and simulation capabilities. It will combine the scientific expertise from IHPC, University of Glasgow and UGS, with Sembcorp Marine’s knowledge and experience in industrial maritime applications.

IHPC has developed significant maritime-related computational R&D capability in areas such as fatigue prediction for enhanced structural integrity, marine corrosion prevention, efficient gas flow emission control, hull optimisation, and integrated risk assessment of assets using the analytics of condition monitoring. IHPC will also draw upon its industrial R&D experience from its marine and offshore industry collaborations with partners such as Lloyd’s Register and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute.

As part of talent training and development, University of Glasgow and UGS will provide academic training and certification to students, who are staff of Sembcorp Marine, under the Industrial Postgraduate Program. This will be complemented by IHPC’s use of applied R&D to develop the students’ capabilities, which they can then apply to sharpen Sembcorp Marine’s competitive technological edge.

IHPC acts as a catalyst that translates research into practical applications. By harnessing the power of computational modelling and simulations, we help shipbuilders optimise design to improve efficiency and environmental sustainability of large commercial vessels. This can significantly impact the way ships are built and accelerate the advancement of more fuel-efficient and greener vessels.

—Prof. Alfred Huan, Executive Director of A*STAR’s IHPC

Beyond the current areas of focus, the three organizations hope to expand the scope of the collaboration to create a more comprehensive package of solutions for more efficient ocean-going vessels. The partners are also looking at the possibility of a joint laboratory to advance R&D in this area.

Sembcorp Marine is a leading global marine and offshore engineering group with more than 50 years of experience and proven capabilities in repair, specialized shipbuilding, building of high-specification jack-up rigs, fast track construction of ultra-deepwater semisubmersible rigs, conversion of floating production and storage facilities as well as the engineering and construction of offshore platforms. Headquartered in Singapore, it has a network of six shipyards in Singapore: Jurong Shipyard, Sembawang Shipyard, SMOE, PPL Shipyard, Jurong SML and the new Sembmarine Integrated Yard @ Tuas, which commenced operations in August 2013.

Beyond Singapore, the Group has strategic operations in Indonesia, China, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the US.


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