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The new Ecoship

The new Ecoship
The Japanese NGO Peace Boat takes a daring step into the future of sustainable shipping, joining forces with industry experts to develop the most eco-friendly cruise ship ever.

Cruise vessels are among the most demanding ship newbuilding jobs in the world. Technically sophisticated and subject to very strict regulatory requirements, major cruise vessels demand levels of safety, quality, innovation and engineering expertise unlike most other projects. This makes it all the more astounding that Peace Boat, the Japan based international non-governmental organization (NGO), would set themselves the task of developing what might be the most innovative and ecologically friendly cruise vessel ever.

“Peace Boat has been sailing since 1983 on our educational and advocacy voyages for peace and sustainability. We have used chartered ships to date, and have become increasingly determined to close the gap between our message and the reality of operating a cruise ship,” says Yoshioka Tatsuya, co-founder and Director of Peace Boat. “We know that cruising is very visible to the public and it therefore has both great potential and great responsibility to make changes that will accelerate sustainable innovation.“ From this vision, Peace Boat set out to create a vessel design and a set of specifications that would see the Ecoship not only act as a floating exhibition centre for the latest environmentally friendly technologies and stay ahead of the regulations, but offer a transition model towards a low-carbon economy. 

The design process was in its own way a departure from traditional models of shipbuilding. In April 2014, Peace Boat gathered world experts on naval architecture, marine engineering, renewable energy, energy efficiency, maritime law, biomimicry, and biophilia in Hamburg for an Ecoship design charrette. 

The aim was to come up with a holistic, integrated design approach, based on the belief that elements of a system work best when they are specifically designed to complement rather than to compensate for each other. “When we started the design phase we consulted DNV GL, who were immediately enthusiastic about the project, attended our charrette and played an important role in the development,” says Andres Molina, Project Director, Peace Boat. “We believe DNV GL has a great capacity to evaluate novel designs and is very agile in providing the proper answer to each new safety and technical challenge. Most importantly, we know that DNV GL, with its strong commitment to sustainable development goals, shares our vision for the Ecoship.” 

One of the DNV GL experts who attended the charrette in Hamburg was Andreas Ullrich, Senior Principal Engineer. “Having worked with Peace Boat since they entrusted us with their vessel SS Oceanic in 2009 through to their current ship Ocean Dream, I was intrigued. For a classification society it is always great to be asked for technical support on such an innovative project because it reinforces our sense of working cooperatively to ensure the best solutions for the customer both commercially and in terms of class rules and international regulations. Also, having just released the new DNV GL rule set at the beginning of 2016, such a project is a great match for the flexibility and encompassing nature of the rules – which are designed to adapt to new technical challenges and modern design,” Ullrich says. 

Norbert Kray, DNV GL – Maritime Area Manager for Japan, agrees: “It is very special to work with a customer who is so in tune with the values of DNV GL. Their emphasis on sustainability, achieved through innovative approaches and the smarter use of technology, matches our own, and this project could be a great showcase for the industry. It is a great privilege to be part of this.” 

For Peace Boat, the Ecoship is not only important for its mission but for the entire maritime industry: “As the cruise industry is growing so fast, particularly in East Asia, the need to mitigate the environmental impact is very important. Through its technical characteristics and the programmes that it carries out we hope it will encourage a model for ‘green’ cruising and further innovations in the cruise industry,” says Yoshioka Tatsuya.    

Special features

The Ecoship is designed by the Spanish company Oliver Design around biophilic principles – based on the solutions nature has evolved. The aerodynamic hull is inspired by whales. This is how the design translates biology to shipbuilding technology:

Solar farm – solar-panel-covered sails and a 6,000 m2 top-deck solar farm will generate over 750 kW of power in low-wind conditions.

Closed-loop water system – it ensures that waste water is reused, purified and re-purposed, along with rain and seawater, for irrigating the on-board garden.

Ten masts – under optimal conditions, the masts will harness wind energy to reduce propulsion fuel needs.
On-board garden – an on-board garden serves as the heart and the lungs of the ship, featuring plants from around the world fed by rainwater and organic waste.

Hull coating – plans are underway for a non-toxic, anti-fouling hull coating that mimics fish skin.
Propulsion – the vessel is a dual engined LNG/MDO diesel electric podded ship with additional wind propulsion.

Waste heat recovery – heat from the cooling systems will be used for water production and for domestic applications; radical wasted-energy recovery with the goal of reusing 80 per cent of the energy normally lost in the air and in the water.

Energy storage – managed by a combination of the latest technology for batteries and hot and ice storage tanks.
Ballast water treatment – the most environmentally friendly solution is currently being researched.

Research lab – a climate change and ocean research observatory is planned.

Ice class – the plans call for a Type C vessel and IMO PC7 ice class with –10 °C design temperature.

Main data

Gross tonnage: 55,000
Total length: 224 m
Beam: 31 m
Draught: 8 m
Top speed: 21 knots
Optimised cruising speed: 17 knots
Passenger capacity: 2,000
Number of cabins: 750 

Vira Maritime

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