The Future in Ship Design

This new ship will run on old tennis shoes and baby diapers

This new ship will run on old tennis shoes and baby diapers

We’ve seen multiple designs of late for  ferries, cargo and container ships, and yachts focused on lower fuel consumption.  What is driving these new designs?  Economics…pure and simple.  The Emma Maersk

Running at her rated 80 Mw, her main engines burn 14 tons of residual fuel each hour. Annually, that’s 97,400 tons of fuel. Her auxiliaries, delivering their full 30 Mw, burn an additional 6.6 tons/hour, for a total fuel burn of 20.6 tons/hour. Given 290 steaming days/year (80% capacity factor, which is conservative), this yields a total annual usage of 143,400 tons or about $64.5 million in annual fuel costs.

Burning 20.6 tons/hour = 6724 gals/hour. At 31 kts/hour, this equals .0046 nautical miles/gallon. At 6076 ft/nautical mile, that’s 28 feet/gallon of fuel burned.

The latest from Det Norske Veritas (DNV) is Quantum, a new concept design for container ships to be realized in the next 3-5 years. DNV’s calculations suggest that “the total cost of the system including capital expenditure, operating expenditure and fuel cost will decrease by 14 per cent and the total CO2 emissions will be reduced by 35 per cent.” The key to the design is a dual fuel liquid natural gas and diesel system.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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