Danish Maersk Lines Cuts Shipping Emissions 50%

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Shipping is going to need to use a lot less fuel if we still want to have international shipping in the carbon-constrained future that awaits. Even if polluters prevail and no climate laws get passed, world peak oil is lurking in our very near future, anyway.

So a smart company is looking now at a low carbon option in order to keep on shipping sustainably now that fossil fuel use must go down. Denmark’s Mærsk Line, which is the biggest container shipping company in the world is one company that is prepared.

Like so many companies in the carbon-constrained EU under cap and trade requirements (for example, the EU paper industry has cut emissions 47%), it has already reduced its greenhouse gas intensity by 13%, meeting its 2012 goal ahead of time with typical Danish dispatch.

The shipping giant has just signed a contract with South Korea’s Daewoo to buy ten of Daewoo’s Triple E  (Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved) container ships, for delivery between 2013 and 2015, with an option to add 20 more to the order.

The vessels cut shipping emissions by up to 50% per container.

Each costs US$190 million. At four-hundred meters long, 59 meters wide and 73 meters high,the Triple E  is the worlds largest and most efficient vessel.

The Triple E cuts fuel use by 35%.  Several innovations contribute to the efficiency. It is bigger, and slower, and uses propellers with fewer, larger blades.

The increased size alone adds efficiency, reducing the emissions on a per container basis.

Two ‘ultra-long stroke’ engines turn one propeller each (instead of one engine turning two smaller propellers) and each propeller is larger, with fewer (4 instead of 6) and longer blades (9.8 instead of 9.6 meters long) and combined with a sleeker hull design, reduce energy use 4%. (Full details at Green Car Congress)

The top speed will be capped at 23 knots, so that each container shipped uses less CO2, so it travels slower,  To power that speed takes just between 65-70 MW – compared to 80 MW for the Emma Maersk. Even though the speed reduction is minor, by just two knots, this reduces emissions 19%.

Waste heat recovery is used to reduce CO2 emissions another 9%. When exhaust gas leaves the engine, it is extremely hot. The Triple E can capture the heat and use it to make steam in an exhaust gas boiler, to supply a turbine to generate electricity.

These will be ten ships that will be welcome in the Port of Los Angeles!

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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