Engineering Excellence: Top 5 Sustainable Solutions of 2021

By Christina Tsangaris

When it comes to the sustainable solutions taking the superyacht industry by storm, these steps taken by the yachting community have proved to be a notable demonstration of efforts towards reaching net zero emissions. From lifecycle assessments in-house and fuel cell technology, to SCR technology and exhaust gas after treatments, the innovations taking place across the superyacht sector are an exciting advancement towards a cleaner, greener world.

1. Naval Architecture Innovations 

One of the best examples of greener solutiions in naval architecture can be best understood through the LIFE Platform, a collaboration by shipyard Oceanco and Lateral Naval Architects. This looks closely at the yacht's waterline length and also its weight, best described as the length displacement ratio. This has become a fundamental aspect of Lateral Naval Architect's AQUA concept, improving the efficiency of the hull form as an example of this. In this way, a 30-35% increase in fuel efficiency is achieved by increasing the waterline length. Another notable feature in naval architecture is expansive use of glass on the vessel's superstructure. This adds to the weight reduction which is a great way to increase efficiency. Additionally, the composite superstructures that have dominated the superyacht industry thus far have been another great contributor. This creates less speed, less weight and therefore greater efficiency. 

2. Fuel Cell Technology & Alternative Fuels

Lürssen, one of the few major shipyards pioneering developments in fuel-cell technology, has showcased a milestone advancement within the yachting sector: fuel cell technology. This includes the ability of the vessel to anchor emission-free for 15 days, an exciting first for the industry. Additionally, Lürssen's Innovation Laboratory will be utilised to simulate and test the integration of a Marine Hybrid Fuel Cell System, powered by methanol. This keen eye on the future by Lürssen, and many other shipyards, will assess how renewable energy will pave the way for the future.The superyacht industry's search for alternative fuels continues considering everything from hydrogen and methanol. However challenges around the supply chain, distribution network and also how viable and scalable these option are, remain. 

3. SCR Technology & Heat Recovery Systems

Eco-efficiency has continued to evolve in new and exciting ways. The role of SCR technology is a great example of this, reducing nitrogen oxide as a milestone technology advancement. SCR units are able to reduce more than 75% of NoX. Heat recovery systems are one of the most exciting discussion points of the superyacht industry. Heat recovery systems have also been an integral component of the progress in sustainability.  Taking the energy from the superyacht's engine, and using it to heat up your jacuzzi, swimming pool, or even for palpable drinking water on board, is proof that these advancements can also drive owner experience. Lürssen's Nord, Flying Fox and Madsummer have installed waste heat recovery on board smart energy, throughout the broad operational profile of the vessel. Many other industry vessels have adopted this to as a go-to sustainable solution including Oceanco's Black Pearl, Bravo Eugenia and DreAMBoat.

4. Lowering In-Build Emissions

When looking at the total production of power required for building a superyacht, the energy required must be considered. The most modern shipyards of today, including Feadship's Amsterdam faciility include everything from district heating and solar power energy.  Other basic, but important steps in-house, include banning plastic bottles and ensuring a sustainable philosophy amongst team members in-house.

5. Life Cycle Assesments & Interior Innovations

Teak decks may have once been a dominant interior accent. However, having seen teak reserves in Europe diminished in the last decade, today we instead see viable alternatives that match in their aesthetic without the impact. Lots of research so far has been carried out into sourcing alternative woods and synthetic products. This isn't where the hard work ends. Designing products with reused plastic, dining tables for 20 people out of only fishing nets, and FSC certified sources for materials and non toxic paints and varnishes.

A yacht can be for life, not just for a season at sea. Life cycle assesments present an exciting opportunity for the industry. Not only to create new yachts that are eco-compliant with the latest and greatest technology, but take care of the existing fleet. This requires vessels to be consistently well maintained by the owners, well looked after by their crew. The most sustainable approach for a product is to prolong its lifetime. Feadship's PURE concept is a great example of this, and has a plan for integrations all the way into 2030, to be in line with technology and eco-integrations along the way. Beyond Feadship's PURE, this approach must also be taken across the refit sector. How can yachts be improved and developed over time? How can they remain compliant to regulatory standards as they evolve at a faster rate than ever?

By Christina Tsangaris
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