Silverstream Technologies, which is based in the UK, has entered into an agreement with Shell to convert a number of its LNG carriers to use Silverstream’s revolutionary air lubrication system.
This form of lubrication is of course drastically different to traditional lubricants, such as the transmission oil that Shell itself makes. Rather than lubricating the engine and other moving parts of the ship, Silverstream’s air lubrication system introduces a limited quantity of air under the boundary layer of the hull. With this thin cushion of air, frictional resistance is substantially reduced, enough to typically reduce fuel consumption by 5–10% depending on vessel type. In addition to potentially saving marine operators considerable sums in fuel costs, it also potentially lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
The framework deal between Shell and Silverstream will last initially for three years. During this time, Silverstream will work closely with Shell’s shipping arm, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd., to refine the system’s design and engineering and improve its procurement and execution. The overall aim is to accelerate the rate at which that air lubrication technology can be deployed across Shell’s LNG fleet. This should in turn mean lower lead times and ownership costs for other operators.
Shell and Silverstream have already been cooperating on the new technology since 2014, including sea trials and performance studies to confirm the potential savings of the air lubrication system. The new framework agreement highlights the technology’s potential for increasing performance in the shipping industry.