MOL Unveils Energy-Saving Rounded Bow for its Next-Generation Car Carriers

mol flexie bow design
The FLEXIE design with its rounded bow. Image: MOL

Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines has revealed the hull design for its next-generation car carrier with a rounded bow said to reduce wind resistance and cut emissions.

MOL has four of the so-called FLEXIE carriers on order at Usuki City-headquartered Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co. with delivery slated for 2017 and 2018. The vessels will feature a rounded bow shape will minimize wind resistance and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by about 2% compared to today’s car carriers.

The bow was developed as through a joint research project by MOL, MOL Techno-Trade, and Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen).

In addition to the optimized bow, MOL says the car carriers will feature deck construction that will be altered to allow 14 decks, up from 12. The number of liftable decks will also be increased from two to six. MOL says this means that two adjustable decks can be placed between two fixed decks, offering greater flexibility in accommodating vehicles of different heights, improving loading efficiency and meeting demand for more diversified vehicle transport.

The four vessels will also be installed with electronically-controlled diesel engine with Low Load Optimisation (LLO) tuning by Exhaust Gas Bypass (EGB) technology, a waste heat energy recovery system for generator engines and electric power consumption reduction technology. The vessels’ hull form design will also be improved, especially for low-speed range, based on ship performance analysis of existing carriers.

The four newbuilds will measure 199.95 long by 32.2 breadth, and have capacity for 6,800 standard passenger vehicles.

MOL has been experimenting with wind pressure-reducing designs since the development of the MV Courageous Ace, a pure car carrier launched in 2003 featuring a patented bow design that is aerodynamically rounded and bevelled along the bow line to help reduce pressure from headwinds. Through 2006 the company had launched 17 car carriers with the design.

In 2015, the company also began experimenting with an energy-saving windshield installed on the containership MOL Marvel. The windshield is a horseshoe-shaped design that encloses the front line stacked containers to maximize the wind resistance-reducing effect while minimizing the weight of the main unit. MOL was hoping to demonstrate an annual average reduction of 2% in CO2 emissions, assuming the device is mounted on a 6,700 TEU containership plying the North Pacific Ocean route at speed of 17 knots.

Not only has MOL been experimenting with wind pressure-reducing technologies, but also with wind propulsion with its “Power Assist Sail”, a prototype sailing rig that MOL hopes could reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 2-5% for existing vessels.