Written by Zayana Zulkiflee
Shipshave ITCH: Shaving the marine beard of the ship
As we speak, the Odfjell team at the Bow Elm drydock is preparing to drop a semi-autonomous robot tethered to the vessel’s forcastel deck. Using the hydrodynamics from the ship’s forward movement during transit, the robot equipped with soft brushes will zig-zag up and down Bow Elm’s 180-meter-long vertical side, grooming the slimy grime that accumulates on the ship’s sides.
“It’s like a snow brush you use on the car,” Jan Opedal, Odfjell’s project manager of technology says about ITCH v.1, or In Transit Cleaning of Hulls.
The hull-cleaning robot was developed by Norway-based firm Shipshave to remove marine growth and fouling at its early stages. The innovation is now to be piloted on Odfjell’s 46,000 dwt, 2011-built Bow Elm.
“It is a lightweight, cost-effective plug-and-play system with an in-built camera to monitor growth. It not only saves fees on manual maintenance inspections and cleaning, but also time and fuel as it is done while the ship is on the move. This means that the vessel can be cleaned much more frequently - while sailing. Conventional hull cleaning methods are often challenging to arrange for, and demand stops at anchorage or in drydock, stealing of the time that could have been better spent moving cargo for our customers.”
Jan Opedal, Project Manager Technology
Video from Shipshave (include audio):
The initiative to install the ITCH on Odfjell ships came from Oddvin Ertesvåg, Manager Technical Support. He is currently onsite at the ASRY drydock in Bahrain, supervising the installment of this pilot solution.
“The unit is received onboard and looks to be smart and well-designed. We are now brainstorming to give it the best working environment. When installed, I believe the unit will do a good job for Odfjell in keeping the hull vertical sides clean from slime and marine growth.”
HASYTEC’s Dynamic Biofilm Protection (DBP) system
While ITCH covers up to 90% of the vertical side, down in the more intricate nether-regions of the propellor and its blades, the small metal cylinders (transducers) of HASYTEC’s Dynamic Biofilm Protection (DBP) system hums in tandem. The high-frequency ultrasound it emits into the water prevents biofilm – the thin layer that turns into fouling and marine growth on underwater ship parts – from settling.
Like ITCH, Hasytec’s system minimizes maintenance costs and remains environment-friendly as it only targets the biofilm and single-cell organisms, leaving fishes and marine mammals unharmed.
A clean hull and clean propellers mean increased fuel efficiency. Biofilm develops just hours after a ship is deployed, and a dirty, bumpy hull increases the ship’s resistance as it glides through the water. This degraded hydrodynamics then increases fuel consumption, which is both costly and bad for the environment. The introduction of ITCH and Hasytec’s DBP system to keep a continuously clean hull is estimated to save up to 135 cars’ worth of carbon dioxide per vessel per year.
“You get a lot of added fuel consumption due to marine growth on propeller blades and the hull itself. These new technologies to remove or limit the marine growth on the vessel will limit the increase of consumption between the dry docks”
A part of Odfjell’ long term sustainable goals
“As early movers trying out these new technologies (per today only two other companies have tested Shipshave’s robot), we stay on our toes and are proactive about finding solutions to better efficiency”
Erik Hjortland, VP Technology
For six months, ITCH and Hasytec’s system will be tested and data collected to examine usefulness to the rest of the fleet as part of Odfjell’s plans to reach the climate targets.
By 2030, Odfjell’s vessels shall emit 40% less CO2 compared to a 2008 baseline. From 2023 all vessels are therefore required to stay below an emission limit that gets 2% stricter every year.
“It is therefore critical to us to maintain a clean hull and propeller on our vessels. Reduced speed or increased consumption due to fouling will negatively affect our AER (Annual Efficiency Ratio). The concept of combining ShipShave and Hasytec has the potential to mitigate this better than by using divers and hull cleaning robots like we do today, and might be an important component to ensure that we stay under the AER limit from 2023 to 2030,” Erik Hjortland said.
These technologies join a line-up of projects that Odfjell has already done towards energy efficiency and reduced emissions since 2007, from an over-consumption alarms system to weather routing and upgrades to more efficient and sustainable propulsion systems.
“Efficiency, fuel consumption and emissions go hand in hand, so Odfjell is improving and renewing the fleet constantly by investing in new ships, retrofit programs and new technology to optimize operations for fuel efficiency. This will all play a part in reaching Odfjell’s climate targets in reducing carbon intensity by 50% by 2030 (compared to 2008) and eventually having a climate-neutral fleet from 2050.”