MOL Joins Research JV Using Aerospace Engineering to Reduce Emissions

ships and aerospace engineering
MOL is looking to improve its ship's performance using aerospace engineering technologies

Published Aug 4, 2022 6:42 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, which has already been actively pursuing wind-assisted propulsion and fluid dynamics for improved performance, will now join a joint research effort for the application of aerospace engineering technologies to improve the performance of wind-powered vessels. One of Japan’s leading shipping companies, MOL is proactively working to use technological developments to reduce GHG emissions from its vessels and achieve group-wide net zero emissions by 2050.

MOL working with MOL Tech-Trade and Akishima Laboratories is working on joint studies related to wind-powered propulsion and is developing a new ship design, ISHIN, which reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by using wind as a propulsive force. Now they will implement more advanced joint development aimed at optimizing the hull shape for wind-powered vessels, which adopts aerospace engineering technologies in the ISHIN ship design, in collaboration with Dr. Kota Fukuda, Associate Professor at the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Tokai University, Japan.

In the ISHIN ship design, the hull features a shape that reduces wind pressure from both the bow and the sides. It uses lift from diagonally opposite winds, in addition to ensuring a smooth, streamlined flow of wind to increase operating efficiency. Earlier this year, MOL ordered two 15,600 gross ton ferries that will be fueled by LNG and use the innovative hull design. MOL expects that the new ferries will reduce CO2 emissions by about 35 percent in comparison with ferries currently in service, by adopting the latest technologies.

Dr. Kota Fukuda, a noted researcher in fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, and flow simulation fields, and his group have carried out fluid dynamics research on the examination of flow phenomena around rockets and aircraft. They have also worked on the development of high-performance solar cars and solar unmanned airplanes, as well as other applications of their simulation technology. In this new project, they will expand their research field to ship engineering and ocean-going vessel development.

This new joint research project is launching as MOL also continues to push forward with its efforts to demonstrate its rigid wind sail for bulkers. The company is working with the Oshima Shipyard on the Wind Challenger, a retractable rigid sail. The shipyard recently floated out the first bulker with the Wind Challenger installed and MOL expects to start demonstrations of the vessel later this year. MOL has announced partnerships to build several bulkers outfitted with wind-assisted propulsion. The company also recently said it would study combining its rigid sails along with the installation of wind rotors on a bulker.