A new technology from Mitsubishi will make large ships more fuel efficient by using tiny air bubbles to reduce the friction of the ship’s hull on the water. The company has completed the conceptual design of the MALS-14000CS cargo ship that will use the proprietary Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS). The conceptual design pairs MALS with other state of the art emissions reductions technology totaling an overall emissions reduction of 35%. MALS reduces friction by supplying air to the vessel’s underside therefore creating a layer of tiny bubbles that allow the ship to glide with less friction between the hull and the seawater below.
The MALS technology alone reduces emissions by 10% but Mitsubishi researchers have paired it with a new über efficient hull design, an electronically controlled diesel engine, a waste heat recovery system and a new two-engine, two-shaft propulsion system that bring total emissions reductions to 35%. The emissions reductions are based on Mitsubishi’s concept vessel, the giant MALS-14000CS, a New Panamax 2 size 14,000 TEU*3 (twenty-foot equivalent unit) container vessel capable of carrying hundreds of 20-foot long shipping containers. In addition to using the technology in newly designed ships, MALS can be incorporated into existing ships making them more fuel efficient.
Mitsubishi’s test vessel is a module carrier, a type of large ship with a wide, shallow-draft hull which creates low water pressure making it possible to pump air below the vessel without the need of too much electricity for air pump devices. In addition, the vessel’s hull is wide and readily retains the water bubbles without letting them slip away making it a perfect test vessel for the technology. The technology’s development has been sponsored in part by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s “Support for Technology Development from Marine Vessels for Curtailing CO2”.