Rio Tinto picks Alfa Laval’s air lubrication system for its bulker

Rio Tinto, the world’s largest dry bulk shipper, has selected Alfa Laval’s air lubrication technology for one of its bulk carriers, as part of its focus to boost vessel energy efficiency and decarbonize shipping.

Alfa Laval

Alfa Laval will provide its OceanGlide fluidic air lubrication system to enhance the ship’s propulsion efficiency and energy savings while sailing.

Introduced in 2023, Alfa Laval OceanGlide’s energy-saving capabilities have generated considerable interest from shipowners seeking to address energy efficiency and emission challenges.

The solution combines air lubrication with fluidic technology to create an even air layer with high efficiency and little compressor power. OceanGlide creates a more streamlined air layer on the vessel’s flat bottom by dividing the surface into segments, with each segment featuring its fluidic band.

Alfa Laval
Courtesy of Alfa Laval

The independent steering of each band allows a more controlled airflow to reduce friction between the hull and water. This distribution of bands into sections creates a more dynamic air layer, maximizing coverage and eliminating passive cavities along the vessel’s underside. 

The system requires no structural modifications, except for three to five hull penetrations of a maximum DN150. The fluidic bands, designed with a low profile and no moving parts, can be configured underneath the ship at any shipyard.

According to Alfa Laval, OceanGlide could reduce specific drag from 50–75%, which means significant propulsion power savings. This could lead to lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.

Rio Tinto has chosen to retrofit an owned vessel with the system to assess this energy-efficient technology for its fleet. 

“We are delighted about OceanGlide being selected as one of the promising technologies that can support Rio Tinto in its decarbonization journey,” said Rajiv Sarin, Head of Air Lubrication, Alfa Laval.

“By providing innovative solutions, like OceanGlide, we empower our customers to achieve both efficiency and sustainability. We are proud to be part of the initiative that drives a more sustainable future.”

Last month, Alfa Laval received a contract to provide OceanGlide installations for Korean shipbuilding company K Shipbuilding (KSB).

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