Clean lines of the Future Trader.(image credit: DEKC Maritime).
A new concept of short-sea cargo vessel that would facilitate technological adaptation and updating over time has been proposed by a Dutch company, writes David Tinsley.
A new concept of short-sea cargo vessel that would facilitate technological adaptation and updating over time has been proposed by a Dutch company, writes David Tinsley. A central feature of the 5,000dwt Future Trader developed by Groningen design engineering consultancy DEKC Maritime is a modular engine room with exchangeable power plant.
The novel singledecker type, suited to intra-regional flows of bulk commodities, forestry goods and industrial products, is offered as a solution to the demands on a sector faced with an ageing fleet and ever-increasing regulatory pressures arising from ‘green’ agendas and the drive for ‘sustainability’.
The Future Trader marries a comprehensively optimised hull form with provision for economic upgrading of the power installation and driveline so as to adopt alternative energy sources and machinery, and benefit from technological advances throughout the ship’s lifetime. The future of marine fuels is a fundamental topic. As observed by DEKC, “The industry knows that diesel will not last forever as the primary source of power on a ship, but no one knows exactly in which direction to look for an alternative.”
The aim, therefore, has been to devise a design that would enable the power unit to be relatively easily exchanged for a unit running on a different source of power. “Whether it is hydrogen, ammonia or electricity; this way, a vessel designed today can start its life running on diesel, and once an alternative source of power is available, the pack can be simply swapped-out for a new one,” added DEKC.
The Future Trader affords a 219,000ft3 capacity in a single, box-like hold served by a maximum-width hatchway on main dimensions of 83.3m length overall and 15.6m breadth. The beam ensures access through the sea lock at Delfzijl for vessels constructed at the many shipyards sited on the inland waterway network of the Netherlands’ northernmost provinces. The gross tonnage is just within the 3,000t ‘paragraph’, and the service speed of 10 knots is typical for that of vessels engaged in the European coasting and short-sea trades.
The company considers that optimising hull shape at an early stage of the design process pays back throughout the ship’s operational lifespan. DEKC has made great efforts in utilising parametric hull optimisation, to determine the most efficient hull form based on pre-set parameters by using numerical computer models and running the results through a digital basin in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software.
DEKC Maritime started in 1972 as the detail engineering department of Centraalstaal, which was originally set up to provide pre-cut and pre-formed steel to small shipyards in the northern Netherlands.
After several name changes, from TE-central engineering, to Engineering Centrum Groningen, to Vuyk Engineering Groningen, to CIG Maritime Technology, the company emerged as DEKC Maritime, as an independent knowledge centre for the shipping and shipbuilding industry.