Low Carbon Shipping - A Systems Approach

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Marine Science and Technology


It is estimated that shipping accounts for 3.3% of CO2 emissions in the world. With the need to reduce overall CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050 to mitigate global warming then shipping must cut its emissions. The importance of shipping to the UK economy should not be underestimated. Over 90% of the UK's imports and exports are transported by ships and UK shipping plays a vital role in transportation links to our neighbouring countries and also within the UK to its many islands. Shipping provides the means of exploiting offshore natural resources including fishing, offshore mining, and oil and gas reserves e.g. North Sea shuttle tankers, and more recently cruise ships and liners have offered holidays afloat. Today, shipping contributes some 10 billion annually to the UK's GDP thereby contributing some 3 billion to the UK Exchequer. In terms of employment, the UK shipping industry is responsible for employing over 200,000 people either directly in shipping or indirectly in service industries. Whilst few ships are actually built in the UK today, the UK remains one of the world's leading providers of marine services including insurance and finance, is home to many shipping companies, has many marine equipment manufacturers and is the centre for international shipping organisations such as IMO and the Baltic Exchange. There are currently about 750 ships over 1,000 Tonnes registered with UK classification societies, and the number of UK registered ships continues to increase despite the recent down turn in the economy in both the domestic and international markets. We currently lack a holistic understanding of the shipping industry. Its drawn out contractual, technological and financial evolution has obscured access to both top-down and bottom-up system level understanding of its sensitivities and left many commercial habits engrained and unchanged for literally hundreds of years. The inescapable truths identified above can galvanise a reaction from all members of the shipping community, and we aim to capitalise on this.To understand the shipping system, the relationship between its principal components, transport logistics and ship designs, must be elucidated. Only then, can future logistical and ship concepts be optimised to achieve maximum reduction of carbon emissions. Through this understanding and optimisation, projections can then be made for future trends in the demand for shipping, the impacts of technical and policy solutions and their associated implementation barriers, and the most just measurement and apportionment mechanisms.These unique challenges can only be addressed with strong stakeholder involvement (we have significant commitments to our consortium from regulators: WWF, Lloyds Register, technologists: British Maritime Technologies, QinetiQ and Rolls Royce and operators: Shell, Fisher, David MacBrayne and the UK MoD, as well as wider support from a number of other companies across all constituents of the shipping industry). In addition, we have formed a multidisciplinary team (geographers, economists, naval architects, marine engineers, human factor experts and energy modelers) to ensure that specialist skills and experience can be shared whenever it is required. Using these assets we will undertake an aggregated, holistic, systems analysis of the shipping industry to elucidate and clarify the many complex interfaces in the shipping industry (port operations, owner/operator relationships, contractual agreements and the links to other transport modes). The analysis will extend to 2050, and involve the generation of future concept designs both for ships and infrastructure regimes. The model will project trends for global trade flows, but it will have particular focus on the UK's international and domestic passenger and freight transport.


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Description Newcastle University's participation in the UCL led Low Carbon Shipping consortium comprised inputs across three work packages as follows:


1) Study focussed on the development of a methodology for improved propeller efficiency by 'design for in-service conditions. The aim is to determine if a marine propeller's efficiency can be improved by the philosophy of design for in-service conditions.

Ship's motions and response to a seaway were modelled with non-linear ordinary differential equations and solved in the time-domain using a fourth-order Runge-Kutta method. A modified Blade-Element Momentum method models the thrust and torque on the propeller in non-uniform flow. A new propeller optimisation cycle has been proposed for design for ship-in-service conditions. The approach provides a good estimation as to the sea-margin, and also an analysis tool for propeller design by accounting for the drift angle and flow vectors at the propeller plane. Results depend heavily on the ship type and operating profile. For ships which are susceptible to large forces from weather, e.g. container ships, an improvement in efficiency over the basis propeller could be as much as 1.5%, whereas a laden VLCC may improve by 0.5%.

2) The underlying philosophy of this work is that the net carbon dioxide emission for the ship is reliant on; firstly, the carbon budget of the fuel being used; secondly, the manner in which it is used considering actual (rather than assumed ideal) engine operation; and thirdly, what is done with the exhaust products post-combustion. The principal aim in this research was therefore to undertake a three-fold investigation for low-carbon fuel-engine-exhaust systems concepts. Key findings were:

3.1 Future Fuel Usage: Unlike many other studies of this nature, and indeed, the premise behind emerging regulations which generally only consider the carbon cost of fuels on a "pump-to-hull" basis, the research here considered the total carbon footprint of different fuel types used in the full range of marine engine types on a "well-to-hull" basis (or "field-to-hull" in the case of bio-fuels), which therefore includes the up-stream carbon cost of fuel production and transportation to the vessel. On this basis, there is strong indication that existing residual and distillate marine fuels are actually already relatively "carbon-effective" choices. A wide variety of bio-fuels were considered and under some conditions these can offer a net reduction in carbon cost, however, many do not if considered on a "field-to-hull" basis due to the carbon-intensive production processes (including fertilisers, farming methods, etc.). Given the competition between bio-fuel and food production, there is also a limit on how much bio-fuel could actually be used for fuelling shipping transportation and in some cases, the use of bio-fuels can increase the emission of species aside from carbon dioxide. The best performers in terms of carbon-footprint were blends with existing fossil fuels. (L)NG as a fuel also can provide carbon (and other) emission reduction benefits as compared to traditional marine fuels, however, again, the picture is not as clear as might be supposed due to the highly carbon-intensive production cost of fossil fuel LNG. Hydrogen usage as a fuel was also considered, however, under existing production methods this too can be carbon-intensive, although, if renewable energy sources can be used for hydrogen production then this provides a realistic possibility for a net reduction in carbon footprint.

3.2 Engine and emissions modelling concepts: A variety of existing engine and emission models were examined and some initial comparisons with experimental results were made. It is apparent that on an engine-by-engine basis, highly sophisticated modelling tools can provide accurate results in terms of engine performance, but these models are not necessarily concerned with precise emissions products. Relatively accurate emission prediction models on the other hand often only focus on one (or a limited sub-set of) emission species and require a very accurate time-dependant description of the in-cylinder combustion conditions and are not necessarily coupled with engine performance prediction tools. To predict/model emission production over the wide range of ship engines, on a vessel-by-vessel basis, a compromise between accuracy and computational and data-input effort is required.

3.3 Future emission control measures (carbon capture and storage on-board):While some of the techniques/systems for carbon capture did show some potential feasibility (e.g. amine absorption technology) in these terms, the fact that the captured carbon requires further processing for storage and the need for its retention on board the vessel, leads to the ultimate conclusion that, in reality, an on-board CCS system does not appear feasible given current methods and technologies.

WP3 (Logistics): We focused in particular on LoLo containers and completed the following tasks: we mapped the 'as-is' shipping activity in the UK; catalogued port-related sustainability initiatives; estimated port-related CO2 emissions and the emissions associated with UK-centric shipping activity (all modes); assessed the impact of transhipment on the CO2 emissions associated with UK-centric shipping activity (containers only); we mapped supply chains for different types of containerised products and estimated the share of maritime related CO2 emissions (containers only) (in conjunction with WP4); and finally we examined the relationship between transport logistics and future ship designs.

WP4 (Environmental and Economic Costs of Shipping): For the majority of ship carbon abatement technologies considered, the GHG emission savings from the reduction in fuel consumption are dominant for HFO, MDO, MGO or LNG. Modelling of industry-wide take-up of measures to mitigate operational CO2 allows for identification of routes to global efficiency gains, however, wider impacts from the build, end of life, and maintenance of ships can become significant when action is taken to reduce fuel consumption.

Where the potential savings are greatest, e.g. Flettner rotor, Sails and Kites, there is also the greatest opportunity for the embodied environmental cost of the system to become significant, often exacerbated by regular maintenance and replacement requirements. Applying an artificial slow steaming scenario to all shipping demonstrated that in the event of a prolonged reduction in ship speed, as evidenced 2007-2013, the significance of emissions from shipbuilding increases, as it does when ships are scrapped early in search of efficiency gains.

Increased take-up of very low CO2 fuels (measured at point of use) such as hydrogen, biofuels or nuclear power will also refocus attention on the build phase of the ship, including any abatement technologies. It seems highly likely that some abatement measures would become carbon abatement neutral, or even negative, if a near zero emission (at point of use) fuel were used, although they are likely to remain economically viable as a fuel saving device.

Full LCAs are necessarily limited in their scope and very focused, this work presents a broad model which estimates the greatest contributions to GHG emissions and environmental impact of a wide range of ship types, measures for mitigation of CO2 emissions, and other key factors to allow for comparison of options, and the likely associated economic cost.

Application of economic incentives to attempt to reduce environmental impact from shipping, given existing regulations concerning NOx and SOx emissions, as a fuel levy or voyage CO2 levy are appropriate in the short term, considering the current makeup of the global fleet. Applying a carbon levy to emissions from shipbuilding (for example as a levy on new ships) highlights a reduction in the apparent economies of scale within shipping GHG reduction. A proposed model for levying full environmental impact will better embody incentivisation of true emission reduction.

Upstream emissions from shipbuilding have the potential to become significant in a very low carbon future scenario, particularly where the uptake of low carbon fuels is high.
Exploitation Route The research is already being applied by certain actors in the maritimer transport chain who, in conjunction with their customers, are using the research to achieve reduced end-to-end emissions reduction in the maritime transport chain. We have already facilitated two workshops with various industry stakeholders.

Through the published GloTraM model, Newcastle University's work in WP's 2 & 4 allows for actors throughout the shipping industry and policy makers to understand the impact and cost of measures to mitigate Carbon emissions from shipping. WP4 modelling of the through life environmental impact of shipping and its available carbon mitigation measures, and their associated environmental and economic cost equally informs policy makers at all levels (e.g. UK government, EU, IMO, UNFCCC) and stakeholders throughout the shipping industry of the global cost-benefit balance inherent within shipping's attempts to mitigate carbon emissions. Assessment of balanced environmental impact highlights not only opportunities to reduce shipping's global impact, but also unintended consequences of efforts to mitigate fuel combustion-derived emissions. Our research shows to the various actors along the maritime transport chain (container shipping lines, ports, freight forwarders, freight recipients) firstly the contribution of their node or link in the chain to end-to-end carbon emissions and secondly how this can be mitigated.

Through the published GloTraM model, Newcastle University's work in WP's 2 & 4 allows for actors throughout the shipping industry and policy makers to understand the impact and cost of measures to mitigate Carbon emissions from shipping. Published papers and conference publications have addressed the potential for development of a full cost accounting model for shipping, considered the research question "What is the likely future demand for shipping?", collaborated with Plymouth University on the macro and micro economic modelling of shipping, in particular demand driver prediction for dry bulk and liquid bulk trades, and the impact of through life GHG and balanced environmental impact models on cost-benefit decisions normally focused on fuel combustion derived emissions only, particularly decisions aimed at mitigating climate change. Further development and application of the derived models also takes place through existing projects, and follow-on EPSRC funding.
Sectors Energy,Environment,Transport

URL http://lowcarbonshipping.co.uk/
Description Contribution to knowledge through publications and dissemination, especially via two recent key journal publications (IJLM and Energy Policy). Improved best practice among our industry partners.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Transport
Impact Types Economic

Description Lloyd's Register collaboration
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Lloyd's Register 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 12/2013
Description Lloyd's Register collaboration
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Lloyd's Register 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2011 
End 04/2013
Description Shipping in a Changing Climate
Amount £369,037 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K039253/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom