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World's cleanest vessel on inland waterway


An EU-funded research project is currently demonstrating a low-emission, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly tanker, developed to reduce the environmental impact of inland shipping.

Inland navigation is safe and environmentally friendly with average CO2 emissions only a third of equivalent road transport per ton-kilometre. However, sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions are actually much higher than those resulting from road transport, due to the higher sulphur content of the fuel used. While stricter emissions limits[1] for road transport since the early 1990s have significantly reduced nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions, such tough limits have not yet been applied to inland navigation.

Improving performance

The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) CREATING – Concepts to reduce environmental impact and attain optimal transport performance by inland navigation – project set out to improve both the logistics and the environmental performance of inland waterway navigation. The latter involves application of low sulphur fuel, speed control, selective catalytic reduction and particulate matter filters. All these solutions are applied in the Cleanest Ship Project, a demonstration running from November 2007 to November 2008.

The CREATING team comprises 27 partners from 9 countries and deals with the Rhine and Danube basin, the North-South connection from the Netherlands to France, and the East-West canals such as those in Germany and Poland. The team includes research institutes, shipyards and relevant branch organisations – such as shippers and inland navigation – and maintains strong relations with the relevant public authorities.

In co-operation with oil multinational BP, the project has modified the 1 300 tonne, 70-m long motor tank vessel Victoria that operates around the Port of Rotterdam and Antwerp areas. This work is expected to:

  • Cut NOx emissions by 92% by injecting urea into the exhaust stream;
  • Reduce particulates by 98% using a regenerating filter system that burns off clogging material; and
  • Eliminate SOx emissions by changing from conventional fuel oil used on inland waterways with a sulphur content of 1 000 parts per million to an ultra-low sulphur fuel oil equivalent to standard road diesel.

Intelligent operating system

A specially developed navigation system helps to optimise operations, cutting down fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions. The computer programme advises the skipper on the most economical combination of route and speed to enable the vessel to arrive on time with a most efficient use of fuel.

Fuel consumption and NOX emissions are being measured directly; CO2 and SOx emissions are calculated from fuel consumption, while PM emissions are evaluated using the emission-reduction potential estimated from initial tests. The latter is necessary because accurate measurement of PM emissions in service conditions is difficult. The emission reduction results, including a comparison with road transport, are monitored and presented weekly on the cleanest ship website[2] to prove the benefits from the new technologies.

The Victoria was on show at the European Commission ‘European research for clean waterborne transport’ event in Brussels in February 2008. The event concluded that greener ships and waterborne transport are vital components for reaching the EU’s 2020 CO2 emission reduction target and giving Europe an additional competitive edge.

More information: http://www.creating.nu

[1] http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/transport.htm

[2] http://www.cleanestship.eu