Ocean carriers have experimented with a variety of techniques in recent years to cut costs and improve efficiency, from slow steaming to giant megaships to "bulbous bows" that reduce drag. Now comes help from an unexpected source, as GE Marine starts adapting engine technology from its jet plane division to oceangoing freight vessels.
At first glance, there appears to be little overlap between nimble, high-revving jets and muscular, plodding megaships. But GE argues that heavy containerships can benefit from the same gas turbine technology that drives planes such as the Boeing 767 and the Airbus A310 aircraft.
This COmbined Gas turbine Electric and Steam (COGES) system is 80 percent lighter and 30 percent smaller than an equivalent slow-speed diesel engine, freeing up valuable cargo space in ships that are always looking to load one more TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit), GE claims.
Configured to run on either liquid natural gas (LNG) or marine gas oil (MGO), the 25-megawatt gas turbine also runs cleaner than the standard ship engine, producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions, according to the company.