Firm Proposes New Efficient Ship Design


Global oil and natural gas firm BG Group set out to rethink the design of liquid natural gas (LNG) transport ships, and in the process developed what it calls the “LNG ship of the future.”

By looking beyond the industry-standard shape and arrangement of a ship’s LNG cargo tanks, BG Group’s project team came up with a design featuring a visibly different hull shape, notably at the bow, which it believes will lead to improved vessel efficiencies.

The Reading, UK, company, which specializes in exploration, production, storage, transportation and distribution, announced the initial results of its “Blue Amazon” project Jan. 18.

“The idea was to achieve the highest level of efficiency by trying to improve upon the best designs currently being built,” said Michael Davison, BG Group’s project development manager for ship design and construction.

Imagining a Next-Generation LNG Vessel

Although Davison concedes that the designs of LNG ships are already highly efficient, his team sought to “push the limits” of the hull and cargo tank models that have been in use for the past 10 to 15 years.

“That meant we could be a bit creative with the shape of the hull and make it more effective in both calm water and in waves,” Davison said.

The team remained mindful, too, of how the design would later affect vessel construction, wanting to ensure the final design would be practical and cost-effective to build.

Over the course of 18 months, the Blue Amazon team performed ongoing computer modeling and testing to come up with its best, final design, one with a clearly different looking hull.

According to Davison, who has been overseeing the project, more than 2,000 numerical computations were carried out on powerful, networked computers to create models demonstrating the performance properties of the new hull design. One specially created program, based on an advanced computation fluid dynamics process (known as RANSE), simulates complex turbulent flow conditions in various operating environments.

Davison noted that this gave his team an advantage over traditional shipyards, which often face limits on time and resources, such as the specialist software licenses and computing power to which the Blue Amazon project had access.

Improving Vessel Efficiencies

When Blue Amazon settled on its final design, a scale model was built for testing at the Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas in São Paulo. There, the team was able to experiment with sailing in three speeds, two LNG loading conditions and various wave conditions.

BG Group
BG Group

More than two thousand numerical computations were carried out on powerful, networked computers to create models demonstrating the performance properties of the new hull design.

According to the modeling and experimentation, the new vessel shape is expected to require less propulsion energy than the current designs, leading to a 3 to 5 percent savings in fuel and corresponding emissions when compared to traditional designs.

Davison noted that might not sound like much of a savings, but added: “If you’ve got a large fleet of say 30, 40 ships, each burning around 80 tonnes of fuel a day, you can imagine the emissions and commercial advantage of such savings. Over a year, a fleet of such ships would be saving approximately 32,000 tonnes of LNG fuel.”

The team is now refining its design as it moves into the final stage of optimization, with a final design expected in March 2016. The team members look forward to industrializing it thereafter for the next wave of shipbuilding orders, according to BG Group.

“The project teams—considering they’re not ship builders—have created a good design to start challenging the yards,” said Davison.

About the Blue Amazon Project

The Blue Amazon project was named after the Amazônia Azul, the Brazil coastal area where the ship is being designed and tested.

BG Technology Group in Brazil facilitated the project, in partnership with the Classification Society Bureau Veritas (BV); BV’s technology partner HydrOcean; GTT, which develops and licenses LNG tanks; Instituto de Pesquisas Tecnológicas (São Paulo) and Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Oil and Gas; Program/Project Management; Shipyards; Transportation

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