A step change in open ocean transport – how far can it lead?
13 January 2020
Having worked at wave energy R&D for some years, Irish SME Jospa Ltd discovered a novel way to propel a tug that produces significant bollard pull, using wave motion only, writes Patrick Duffy
Having worked at wave energy R&D for some years, Irish SME Jospa Ltd discovered a novel way to propel a tug that produces significant bollard pull, using wave motion only, writes Patrick Duffy.
So, we parked our promising wave energy convertor ‘WEC’ progress to concentrate on developing the tug opportunity.
Most if not all of you the readers will be aware of the massive costs that are coming down the line to battle pollution (please view our video ).
The problem addressed by this project is the economic and environmental cost of burning fossil fuels to power commercial vessels in the maritime transport industry.
Maritime transport emits around 1000 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (3rd IMO GHG study).
The majority of this is from large ships such as oil tankers and cargo ships. By following the status quo, shipping emissions are predicted to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050 – depending on future economic and energy developments.
The EU Commission’s 2011 White Paper on transport suggests that the EU’s CO2 emissions from maritime transport should be cut by at least 40% from 2005 levels by 2050.
Fossil fuel vessels are expensive to run and produce harmful emissions including CO, CO2, CH4, NOX, PM, SOX and NMVOC. For every 1kg (1.2 litres) of MGO used, 3.2kg of CO2 is produced.
What IS the Jospa Tug?
Strongly protected by patent, it looks unlike any ’vessel’ yet seen! It’s a unique new zero-pollution zero-emissions form of marine transport that can solve the growing problems of several sectors of the industry.
Harnessing the amazing ‘orbital velocity’ of the waves it can move with or against wave direction as desired, producing strong ‘bollard pull’ to handle big loads. Please view the video here.
Eliminating fuel costs, the Jospa Tug is one of the new generation of autonomous shipping vessels. It will not have crew as multiple tugs will be controlled from a centre.
It is highly survivable in storms. Its capital cost will be a fraction of competitors’ due to greatly reduced materials and mass production for various application.
PV cells will be incorporated for navigation, control and occasional hybrid travel. The eventual prime target market for the Jospa Tug is the transport of bulk goods – ranging from sands and aggregates to iron ores and, bauxite.
These are markets where tight margins make the cost of shipping crucial and speed is less important. Other niches include transport of water, diversion of glaciers, slow trawling, seaweed harvesting, holding drill platforms on station, pulling distressed vessels away from rocks and cleaning up the gyres of plastic waste in the oceans.
As can be seen from the illustrations below, it consists of a central structural ‘spine’ (in fact we now favour a 3-spine approach) with horizontal or vertical hydrofoils or ‘fins’ attached.
The spine(s) which are the structures that carry the fins, will be like a special hose made of (recyclable) thermoplastic elastomer, steel reinforced, to give high tensile strength coupled with flexibility to largely conform to waves. Selected strands of steel reinforcements from the spines will carry the attachment of the fins.
Selected strands of steel reinforcements from the spines will carry the thermoplastic elastomer, steel reinforced, to give high tensile strength coupled with flexibility to largely conform to waves
It is too early to attempt reliable estimates but the simple nature of its construction with its multiple identical fins, and the absence of an engine, make it amenable to mass production and thereby to be extremely competitive.
Scaling up the concept test model suggests a full-scale weight of only 151 tonnes. When its simple materials and weight are considered it is clear this will be an amazingly inexpensive machine.
How does it work – the Jospa Tug harnesses the wave’s orbital motion
Waves travel by passing on their momentum, like a line of stationary cars hit from behind at traffic lights. They do this in circular motions clockwise in their direction of travel. The force vectors are strongest at the water level, getting weaker as you go deeper.
The JT fins are pivoted from its spine: each has a restraining cable that allows it to swing down in one direction only to 900.
Going forward with the wave direction the fins around the troughs lie up parallel against the JT spine at sea level, and the force vectors, moving backwards against the direction of travel, simply pass over them. Wave and Jospa Tug both travel in the forward direction.
1.) The Jospa Tug is powered by the orbital motion of the waves.
2.) The Tug is a spine with a series of fins to maximise hydrodynamic drag in one direction and minimise it in the other.
3.) The fins articulate with the orbital wave motion to maximise drag of the forward component and reduce drag in the negative component.
4.) This produces forward motion to deliver large towing forces in all sea conditions.
The Jospa Tug travels and pulls equally well against the wave direction – when you turn the JT around thru 1800, facing back into the waves, the drive force will come on the fins at the troughs where the fins will swing downwards and be forced in the backwards direction.
The fins at the crests will idle, parallel with the JT spine. The tug moves against the wave direction almost as quickly as with it.
Fins’ operation as filed in Jospa’s original patent: cables limiting movement are vital (video.)
Other important features of the tug include – high bollard pull, holds its set direction well, simple and largely submerged so very survivable in storms, “next only to a submerged submarine”.
What is its stage of readiness?
The JOSPA TUG is at ‘the end of the beginning’, where the theory has been investigated through modelling simulations to validate it and highly successful proof-of-concept tests were made. Our consultants DOC reported on the proof-of-concept tests.
“The encouraging towing force and vessel motion prototype results have shown that the mechanism is valid and has the potential to generate useful performance in a variety of sea states”.
EU study assistance
The tug offers a myriad of possible benefits as shown in the diagram below to the extent that with our limited resources it could be difficult to make choices from them.
We are thus fortunate to have an EU–funded Marine Energy Alliance study running that will examine technical issues but also advise on the prioritising of the myriad of opportunities below.
This study is being carried out under two main headings, viz. TECHNICAL by the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands ‘MARIN’ and ‘INNOSEA’, COMMERCIAL by ‘DMEC’, the Dutch Marine Energy Centre and UCC, University College Cork.
The European Marine Energy Centre EMEC is project coordinator. There are so many facets of how the tug may benefit the Marine Transport Industry that their assistance, and their plan to discuss with live operators, will be invaluable.
Clearing oceans’ gyres of plastics wastes
The likely first role is tackling the Oceans’ plastic waste gyres: we believe there is no better solution visible or on the horizon PARTICULARLY when combined with our elegant BEACH plastics collection solution – with amazing SERENDIPITY, the Jospa Tug and the BEACH have arrived almost precisely when the world has become aware of these massive pollution problems. By slashing the ‘production’ costs of recycling plastic waste the use of such material can be accelerated.
Converted to oil, It- oil, plastic plus weed can be burned as fuel. Or more efficiently it can be turned into methane by anaerobic digestion. The sludge can then be used as a fuel. It can be used in low-grade plastics mouldings.
The collection vessels, which also will have belt presses on board to improve dry matter, will also act as maintenance bases with perhaps faster ‘ribs’ in tow.
Will the arrays of tugs not constitute a shipping hazard? We would intend to move repeatedly forward and backward on a straight line of hundreds of miles long. This will be at the centres of the Gyres, areas that are not heavily trafficked at any rate.
The ‘beach’ is a very timely Jospa invention, with the Tug it offers an unequalled elegant pragmatic intended to ‘complete’ the Tug solution for plastics waste.
It is modelled on observation and modification of beach action, enabling collection of plastic waste efficiently and at low cost.
The tug and beach combine with an unmatchable synergy so that large numbers of them in arrays can cut wide swathes through the gyres of plastic waste. The low capital and operating costs of Jospa’s ‘package’ for plastic waste can change the economics of recycling and stands out in front of all other attempts at solutions.
It will be environmentally friendly; we will not be using a net except for the lifting of plastic/weed on to outbound transport. Instead (of a mesh) a sloping beach concentrates the material which then enters a deep holding tube (without a bottom/end. We expect it to float as a sludge in this containment.
Yes, there is a mesh net down lower, a fine net which will be used to lift the material on to a collection ship for further drainage and transport. How will it affect turtles and dolphins?
It will be slow moving, about a meter per second, and this would not entrap any fish. It is possible that seals might take up lodgings on the collector beach, but we expect we can design out this potential problem.
Our vision is an ocean garbage clean-up where some hundreds of JOSPA TUGs with Jospa BEACH plastic collections systems will continuously sweep thousands of square km rubbish gyres clean of plastics within a short number of years, before they all degrade to microplastics.
Most of the plastic waste collection now is philanthropically funded. We believe that the lack until now of a pragmatic working solution has been a brake on the collection of waste. Given the solution we now offer we believe that industry-sponsored collection and UN and governmental involvement is likely.
The big target, bulk materials
Using its no fossil fuel emissions advantage, without any crewing costs (save a land-based control centre) and with a very low first capital cost, the biggest target to eliminate costs and pollution is the carrying of low-value bulk materials such as sand and gravel to the sites of major projects.
Also, huge volumes of bulk ores that are being moved from e.g. Brazil to China are included in that target.
In this case, logistics will need to be optimised by adjusting shipping frequency and stock levels to achieve minimum cost. This equally applies to the diminishing but still significant bulk delivery of bulk coal.
The IMO (International Maritime Organisation) says bulk carriers emit about 150 Million tonnes of CO2/year. The Jospa Tug would eliminate that – about twice Ireland’s annual CO2 emissions!
Slaking the great thirst for bulk water
Towing of water bags or even icebergs from areas of plenty of water such as Alaska to areas of drought such as southern California, has been trialled in recent years. Fabricated water bags that were the size of football fields were towed from of the immense pure river melt waters of the arctic region.
They invariably point to the cost of transport using conventional tugs as a crucial barrier. Slowness of movement is technically essential for such shipping, so the Jospa Tug is ideal. This demand and opportunity can be reactivated with Jospa Tugs.
There has been even greater and more active interest in the Gulf States, in Saudi Arabia and South Africa in moving water from areas of plenty such as Antarctica to areas of drought such as the Arabian Gulf.
Liquid water supplies for the southern hemisphere are however not as readily available as in Alaska, rivers appear to not be as accessible and icebergs present pumping and access problems compared to river water.
Seas around arctic Canada (above) have an increasing problem clearing smaller icebergs from shipping lanes. Here the Jospa Tug presents a low-cost solution.
Effective sea anchors
A lightweight version of the Jospa Tug to keep stricken vessels from running onto rocks has the potential to avoid potentially massive pollution and costs.
Such Jospa Tugs might be held at coastguard facilities and dropped off where needed by helicopter or carried on board as standard safety equipment. Similarly, a Jospa Tug could hold the pull on a positional drilling rig or ship to greatly reduce fuel used. The TUG might be used to tow and reposition a drilling rig or a platform.
A high proportion of all fish caught in today’s high-speed trawling is spoiled and as controls on fishing methods become tighter there’s an increasing case for low-speed trawling.
In this application fresh fish would be handled and processed ready for market on board a towed purposed barge. The waste and the habitat destruction would approach zero.
Ocean seaweed harvesting
We would not be the first to propose a wave powered pump system to elevate cold nutritious water from the deep near coasts up to the oxygen rich and sunlight drenched surface.
This leads to very rapid sargassum growth on the sea surface with attendant CO2 adsorption and Climate Change mitigation. This will be harvested later… perhaps by our wave powered Tug & Beach collectors as biofuel.
So, if the deep waters off the Gulf of Mexico are raised with nutrients it will travel by the Gulf stream and eventually enter a gyre. for collection along with plastic oil and any dead floaters.
Sargassum could likewise be raised and harvested in significant quantities in e.g. the Southern Oceans. We, Jospa Ltd, already own one patent which has been proven to be exceptionally effective in wave powered pumping which would be part of the production system.
Compared with e.g. sailing its advantages are its full 2-way directional ability and its massive pulling power. Its speed can’t match the max speed of a sailing ship but it would be driven for many more days annually and would be more consistent and predictable.
Sail vessels are impractical low-capacity expensively crewed toys in comparison. Above all it’s far more survivable than any sail ship.
Are any breakthroughs required to make it work?
We believe not. Jospa has some novel items to incorporate, not yet disclosed, that will improve the JOSPA TUG, but all are essentially application of sound marine engineering practice rather than novel untested theories. All the ancillary technologies required exist already or are well advanced and available through partnering.
With our size and lack of resources, it would be a very long time before we could do justice to exploiting or developing the applications opportunities.
For this reason Jospa wishes to form a program of growth through a mix of partnerships, licensing by application and/or geographic area, also including possible outright sale of technologies, again by application and by geography, joint ventures and alliances with shippers, with shipbuilders and consulting and technology companies, with relevant specialists such as operations centres, autonomous marine vessel specialists, equipment suppliers, materials companies – rubber, elastomer, reinforced hose – quite apart from our need for investors – will all be examined. Jospa would continue to provide technical development advice and IP protection.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2020/01/13/a-step-change-in-open-ocean-transport-how-far-can-it-lead/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/GettyImages-1131702041-1024x575.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/GettyImages-1131702041-300x300.jpgMechmarine,transport,waste