Photo: Stena Bulk

Stena Bulk rolls out InfinityMAX hybrid bulk carrier concept design

Swedish tanker shipping company Stena Bulk has unveiled a new concept hybrid bulk carrier design in an effort to push the shipping industry’s boundaries for zero-carbon, multimodal vessel design.

The InfinityMAX concept, which is designed to carry both dry and wet cargoes in modular compartments, is built with several new core principles that, accumulatively, are said to represent a paradigm shift in cargo transportation.

Stena Bulk
Image Courtesy: Stena Bulk

“We are extremely proud to unveil our InfinityMAX concept vessel design, which we believe pushes the boundaries for the future of our industry,” Erik Hånell, President & CEO, Stena Bulk, commented.

“What we are proposing here is innovative, provocative and would radically reshape the way we think about bulk trade, rationalising two segments with complimentary expertise into one shipping segment that is ready for the challenges of the future.”

As explained, the ultra-flexible, zero-emission design has been created in response to the huge challenges that the global shipping industry must overcome in the coming decades. The design envisions a world in which the shipping industry plays a crucial role in supplying the world with renewable energy, chemicals, materials, and consumables.

In a proposed advancement, the creation of standardised and modular cargo units that can carry dry bulk, liquid bulk or liquified gas products – such as methane, hydrogen or ammonia – will significantly streamline the process of transporting wet and dry bulk cargoes.

Specifically, each of the InfinityMAX’s modular cargo units are designed to be totally self-sufficient in terms of their energy use, with wind turbines and solar panels generating all the electricity needed for internal systems.

Another interesting feature is that the modular units have been designed to be able to be dropped off outside of ports and picked up by tugs, avoiding congestion and reducing call times dramatically.

The InfinityMAX concept will use hydrogen as a marine fuel and wind turbines to generate further energy. Collapsible wing sails and a shark skin hull have also been incorporated in the concept design to significantly improve efficiency. 

Although the vessels will be crewed for safety and flexibility reasons, Stena Bulk has designed the InfinityMAX concept to be semi-autonomous and meet the future demand of efficient operations without compromising safety. InfinityMAX has also the potential to change the role of onboard crew, with less hard labour and more focus on monitoring and interaction with operators ashore.

In effect, the InfinityMAX drives improved world fleet utilisation and the potential for more standardised supply chains, as well as reduces the unnecessary environmental impact of empty tanks being shipped around the world in search of new cargo, Stena further said.

By 2050, the growing need for transportation of energy from areas with abundant renewable supply to areas with large energy demand – carried as hydrogen, methanol, methane, and ammonia – will be a defining part of international trade. This, combined with the requirement to transport sustainable, edible oils and chemicals, and carbon dioxide from carbon capture facilities, as well as bulk commodities, requires a vessel design that is up to the challenge of a radically reformed global economy.

With the right level of matured technologies, Stena Bulk believes that an InfinityMAX vessel could come into service between 2030 and 2035.

To achieve this, a strengthened and sustained collaborative spirit between industry and technology leaders is a necessity in the coming years, according to Stena Bulk which controls a fleet of about 110 vessels.

Last year, the company also decided to introduce a set of low-carbon shipping options for its clients. The options range from 20 per cent to 100 per cent biofuels and is based on an offsetting program where the biofuel is used within the Stena Bulk fleet.

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