Photo: illustration only; Courtesy of ABS

Space technology approved for maritime LNG fuel tanks

Maritime classification society American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has granted a design approval for SpaceTech4Sea, a project to adapt technology developed for space use to maritime LNG fuel tanks.

Space technology approved for maritime LNG fuel tanks
illustration only; Courtesy of ABS

ABS, OceanFinance and Cimarron Composites are joining forces on the SpaceTech4Sea project to adapt composite technologies developed for the space industry to shipping.

The project is supported by €1m ($1.19m) funding from the European Union.

SpaceTech4Sea explores whether composite technology, lighter and potentially more cost-effective, offers a competitive alternative to marine LNG fuel tanks.

The project focuses initially on high-speed vessels with small LNG fuel tank capacities.

The goal is to develop ultra-lightweight LNG fuel tanks which will attract both new buildings and LNG fuel retrofits by cutting costs, reducing weight and increasing vessels’ capacity.

SpaceTech4Sea offers weight savings of up to 80 per cent over existing equivalent LNG tank designs, is not affected by corrosion, and also introduces space technology safety standards to marine operations.

It previously received Approval in Principle from ABS in September 2019.

The ABS Design Approval means the next step is a physical vessel installation of the technology.

“The next challenge is to support its safe application on a vessel,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS senior vice president, global engineering and technology.

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Tom DeLay, Cimarron’s owner and CEO, said: “I see this as an exciting opportunity to apply aerospace technology to efforts to improve the environment here on earth. New technology developments often go both directions. The maturity of this technology in maritime applications may uncover developments that help with aerospace applications for high altitude drones or in-space fuel depots. Some new rocket propulsion concepts use liquid methane as a fuel. The advances in liquid methane transport can serve as a steppingstone toward liquid hydrogen transport.”

Ocean Finance CEO Panayotis Zacharioudakis added: “LNG as marine fuel will face a rapid expansion in the very near future. In the EU particularly, the combination of development of an adequate number of refueling points and the availability of funding resources, e.g., EU Recovery Fund, are expected to attract a lot of interest for LNG-propelled projects and we are ready to offer this game-changing product.”