Shipping firms are blowing bubbles under their ships to reduce drag

An increasing number of large shipping companies are trying out technologies that blow bubbles underneath a ship’s hull, in an attempt to save fuel and reduce emissions

Technology



24 October 2022

Bubbles could help large ships use less fuel

Shutterstock/Aytug askin

A growing number of ships are blowing bubbles beneath their hulls to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“By adding a layer of air underneath a vessel, you reduce the friction of the hull,” says Frode Lundsteen Hansen, co-founder of Marine Performance Systems, a company in the Netherlands that designs such systems.

The idea is known as air lubrication and has been around since the 19th century. But it is only recently that it has attracted interest among commercial shipping operators …

Article amended on 25 October 2022

We’ve corrected the fuel efficiency figures for air lubrication systems.

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