Vale’s Sea Victoria arrives into port at São Luís, as the world’s first ore miner to utilise air lubrication technology

Vale’s Sea Victoria arrives into port at São Luís, as the world’s first ore miner to utilise air lubrication technology

Press Release: The Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal, in São Luís (MA), Brazil, received today the first ore operator in the world to use the air lubrication technology, which consists of a rigid layer of air bubbles produced artificially underneath the ship’s hull. British maritime cleantech provider, Silverstream Technologies supplied its air lubrication solution, the Silverstream® System onboard the Sea Victoria, a Guaibamax with 325 thousand tons’ capacity. Ten compressors installed beneath the ship’s deck in the bosun store send air to 20 devices positioned underneath the ship, which produce a carpet of bubbles. 

 

The action reduces the frictional resistance between the hull and the water, reducing fuel consumption and, consequently, carbon emissions, which will help Vale to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in navigation.

 

Vale’s shipping team anticipates that the technology could be replicated in the entire fleet dedicated to the company’s service. “Expectations point to a fuel reduction of around 5-8% per ship. In a year, a single vessel would stop emitting up to 5,600 tons of CO². The technology has the potential to be installed in the entire fleet dedicated to the company’s services, with a 4.4% reduction in annual emissions from the maritime transport of iron ore at Vale”, explains the technical manager of Vale’s Shipping, Rodrigo Bermelho. 

 

The project was developed in conjunction with Vale’s navigation division, with the cooperation of the Vale Technological Institute, and has a partnership with the Korean shipowner Pan Ocean for installation in one of its VLOCs (Very Large Ore Carrier). Shanghai Ship Design Research Institute (SDARI) was responsible for the ship design and integration with the bubbles. The Chinese shipyard New Times Shipbuilding prepared the vessel during its construction and the shipyard Yiu Lian Dockyards (Shekou) LTD, located in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, conducted the installation of the equipment. Installation lasted 35 days and the ship was ready on 28th June. 

 

“Vale invests in research and technology so that we can operate more and more sustainably. We constantly strive for excellence in performance, efficiency, safety and sustainability. Whether with a prominent position in the national and world port scenario, with the generation of taxes or jobs,” said the executive manager of operations at the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal, Luís Allevato.

 

Ecoshipping

 

The adoption of air lubrication is part of Ecoshipping, a program created by Vale to meet the challenge of reducing its carbon emissions, in line with what has been discussed within the scope of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Last year, the company announced that it intends to neutralise its direct and indirect emissions (scopes 1 and 2) in 2050 and still reduce scope 3 emissions by 15% by 2035, related to its value chain, of which shipping emissions they are part of it, as the ships are not their own. The goals are in line with the ambition of the Paris Agreement.

 

Recently, Vale announced the world’s first ore carrier equipped with rotating sails (rotor sails), also built in China and due to arrive in Brazil at the end of July. Like air lubrication, the spark plugs were installed on a Guaibamax. There are five sails distributed along the vessel that allow an efficiency gain of up to 8% and a consequent reduction of up to 3.4 thousand tons of CO2 equivalent per ship per year. If the pilot proves to be efficient, it is estimated that at least 40% of the fleet will be able to use the technology, which would impact a reduction of almost 1.5% in annual emissions from Vale’s maritime transport of iron ore.

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