UECC has taken delivery of a dual-fuel LNG battery hybrid Pure Car and Truck Carrier (PCTC), which the company says should provide significant gains in energy efficiency and emissions reduction.

The vessel, to be named Auto Advance, is the first in a series of three new-build PCTCs – measuring 169 by 28 metres and with capacity for 3,600 vehicles on ten cargo decks – being delivered from China’s Jiangnan Shipyard.

The remaining two sister vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2022.

“Having brought into operation the first-ever dual-fuel LNG PCTCs five years ago, UECC is now taking delivery of the first of three of the world’s first dual-fuel LNG battery hybrid PCTC to be built,” said UECC chief executive, Glenn Edvardsen.

“This is another big step forward in eco-friendly ship operations that shows we walk the talk. This is also a technological milestone as the successful performance of the vessel in sea trials has vindicated our confidence in the viability of this innovative solution.”

UECC has developed the design with DNV and Jiangnan’s in-house ship designer, Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute, to incorporate technology in a new configuration.

LNG battery hybrid technology, together with an optimised hull design for better fuel efficiency, will enable these new-builds to exceed the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirement to cut carbon intensity by 40% from 2008 levels by 2030.

Emissions of carbon dioxide will be reduced by around 25%, Sox (sulphur oxides) and particulate matter by 90% and NOx by 85% from the use of LNG, while the new-builds will also meet the IMO’s Tier 3 NOx emissions limitations for the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

Dual-fuel engine technology has now been combined with an energy storage system (ESS), supplied by Finland’s WE Tech, incorporating a battery package from Corvus Energy, which will be charged by a permanent magnet, directly-driven shaft generator or dual-fuelled generators.

The vessels will require only two auxiliary dual-fuel gensets (generator set), in addition to the main engine, as the ESS and shaft generator provide a spinning reserve to eliminate the need for another genset that would normally be required.

Battery capacity is based on modelling of the vessels’ expected operational profile to economise on installation, with payback time for the ESS estimated at five years, according to UECC’s head of ship management and new-building, Jan Thore Foss. The hybrid solution, which has gained DNV’s (maritime classification society) Battery Safety notation, will be steered by an energy management system, supplied by Kongsberg Maritime, which will serve as a control system for overall energy production and consumption, essentially the ‘energy brain’ of the vessel.

Batteries can be most efficiently charged while at sea using the shaft generator so they are fully charged when entering port, enabling the vessel to manoeuvre in port using bow thrusters driven solely by battery power that can also supply the ship’s other energy needs while it is docked.

“This will effectively eliminate emissions while in port and these vessels are also equipped to connect to green power from shore that is becoming increasingly available in order to reduce harmful emissions of NOx, SOx and particulate matter,” added Foss.

Operational flexibility can deliver significant fuel efficiency gains and Foss believes this, combined with a low-emissions profile, will give the vessels an advantage in the European market as EU plans to include shipping in the Emissions Trading System could hike costs for polluting vessels.

“LNG is presently the most environment-friendly and widely available low-carbon fuel, with an estimated emissions reduction of around 25% compared with other fossil fuels,” noted UECC Energy and Sustainability manager, Daniel Gent. “We are therefore taking advantage of the best available fuel solution now and combining this with hybrid technology to further cut emissions.

“But we are not locked into LNG and these dual-fuel engines are also ready to use alternative low-emission fuels such as biofuel, bio-LNG and synthetic LNG, as these become commercially and technically viable.”