A new public private collaboration in Singapore aims to develop more eco-friendly ships

‌Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Sembcorp Marine, the University of Glasgow and University of Glasgow Singapore (UGS) have signed an agreement to collaborate and develop new hull designs for large ocean-going vessels and make them more environmentally-friendly.

Under the three-year memorandum of understanding, A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), Sembcorp Marine, the 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 services. Currently, maritime transport carries about 90% of all international trade and accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.Singapore shipping

Under the 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 sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrous oxides (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 Organisation’s new 2015 standards on ship-related air pollutants and marine environmental issues. 

“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 upon the way ships are built and accelerate the advancement of more fuel-efficient and greener vessels,” said Professor Alfred Huan, Executive Director of A*STAR’s IHPC. 

Professor Jonathan Cooper, Vice Principal for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Glasgow, added: “As a world top 100 University, whose School of Engineering was recently rated in the top five in the UK-wide assessment of university research - the Research Excellence Framework - this collaboration represents a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the reach and impact of our research. Our new partnership with A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing and Sembcorp will innovate in the design of new ships’ hulls  with the aim of improving the efficiency of large ocean-going vessels and reducing greenhouse emissions.  The initiative not only highlights the increasing importance of multi-centre, cross disciplinary research in overcoming the significant challenges that exist in developing new environmentally-sustainable shipping technologies but also demonstrates the huge benefits for both the public and private sector in working together.” 

UGS - a partnership between the University of Glasgow and Singapore Institute of Technology - provides undergraduate Honours programmes in computing science and engineering, as well as PhD training and research and development collaboration with industry and other organisations in Singapore. Under this agreement, UGS and the University of Glasgow will deliver academic training and certification to students who are employed by Sembcorp Marine, under UGS's Industrial Postgraduate Programme. This will be complemented by IHPC's use of applied research and development to develop the students' capabilities which in turn will be used to sharpen Sembcorp Marine's competitive edge in technology.

UGS's director, Dr Gianmarco Radice, said: “To achieve innovation, it is increasingly important for industry, research centres and academia to collaborate with each other. By leveraging on the capabilities from all partners, we can accelerate the innovation necessary to bring next-generation technologies in eco-shipping to the marine and offshore sector, quickly and cost-effectively. This partnership also provides a unique opportunity for our students to gain early exposure to the real world of industrial engineering."

Mr Ong Poh Kwee, Deputy President of Sembcorp Marine Ltd., added: “This collaboration is a major step towards combining innovative ideas in science and technology with maritime experience to develop products and processes which are in demand by maritime and on-shore industries. Such a collaboration will contribute towards better efficiency in ships, reducing gas emission and enhance the marine ecology”.

The partners are also looking at the possibility of creating a joint laboratory to advance R&D  to make ocean-going vessels more efficient in other ways.

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First published: 22 January 2015

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