Monday, June 22, 2020

LNG Vessels Emissions and Costs Set to Benefit from Disruptive Technology System

Innovation in Shipping Shortlisted for Major Engineering Award
Shipping News Feature

UK – A significant contribution to the safe shipment of liquefied gas has been recognised by the country's longest running engineering prize, the MacRobert Award, which is overseen by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Babcock Liquid Gas Equipment (LGE) has been shortlisted for its innovative ecoSMRT© technology that significantly improves the efficiency of carrying Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

Babcock’s LGE business, part of Babcock International Group, has developed disruptive technology for the LNG shipping market. Ships carrying LNG must control the pressure of their LNG cargo, as evaporation occurs in the tanks. The ecoSMRT® system captures and reliquefies this ‘boil-off’ gas, with significant reductions in emissions compared with current technology.

Unlike existing technology, the ecoSMRT® system uses a single compressor, without the need for external pre-cooling, resulting in significant energy efficiency savings, and the LNG reliquefaction system for LNG carriers delivers up to a 50% reduction in carbon footprint, a 50% reduction in maintenance costs, 40% reduction in the physical space required, and improves power efficiency by up to 20% when compared with existing systems.

With demand for LNG set to double by 2040, boil-off gas recovery is fundamental to improving the environmental credentials of today’s modern LNG carrier fleets. It is estimated that each ecoSMRT® reliquefaction system in service on an LNG ship can save the equivalent of up to 19,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted per year, compared to older systems that burn off the excess gas.

When all current order book ecoSMRT® systems are operational, they could save approximately ¾ of a million tonnes per year of CO2 emissions, compared to older systems that burn off the excess gas. Neale Campbell, Managing Director of Babcock’s LGE business, commented:

“The development, bringing to market and successful in-service operation of ecoSMRT® has been a remarkable achievement across the entire Babcock LGE business over a five year journey. This highly innovative and disruptive technology has achieved significant commercial success and the arrival is well-timed, as LNG shipbuilding enters a new era where energy efficiency and environmental emission reduction are essential requirements of the world energy transportation markets. We now look forward to supporting many of the world’s leading ship-owners, delivering LNG internationally, demonstrating British engineering at its best.”

The winner of this year’s MacRobert Award will be announced in July. The winning team will receive the signature MacRobert Award gold medal and a £50,000 cash prize, an amount not to be sneezed at even by the major organisations which are in the running. The other two finalists are the world’s first electric powered digger created by JCB and Jaguar Land Rover’s all-electric Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), the Jaguar I-PACE.

All three finalists demonstrate the sheer ingenuity of engineers in developing significant engineering innovations that support the Academy’s drive to build a sustainable society, enabling faster decarbonisation and more sustainable use of resources. First presented in 1969, the MacRobert Award is widely regarded as the most coveted in the industry, honouring the winning organisation with a gold medal and the team members with a cash prize of £50,000. MacRobert Award Judge Dr Liane Smith FREng commented:

“Babcock’s LGE business is paving the way for energy-efficient LNG cargo operations and ecoSMRT® is an important solution for ship-owners and shipyards looking at delivering a sustainable future. The team’s ingenuity in designing a completely new approach for recovering boil-off-gas, in a competitive and highly technology-intensive engineering system is very impressive. The final innovation required detailed optimisation of the new equipment whilst integrating it into the overall process control, to enable a truly disruptive technology for LNG transportation.”

MacRobert Award winners are chosen by an expert panel of Academy Fellows, who have vast experience across the engineering industry and academia. Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, observed:

”This year’s finalists raise the bar when it comes to understanding the part UK engineering has to play in shaping a more sustainable future. UK engineers are influential agents of change, and our shortlist represents the transformative impact that such innovations are having on a global scale.

”It is testament to the strength and experience of our UK engineering community, a sector that contributes 25% to the UK’s economy, that Babcock LGE, Jaguar Land Rover and JCB have established world firsts in their respective fields.“

Photo: ecoSMRT® courtesy of Babcock.