Recent Technological Developments
Maritime technology, which has shipbuilding technology at its core, is the primary means of strengthening competitiveness in the international market, as the industry changes from being a "Catch-Up Industrial Technology" to "Frontier Creative Industrial Technology" Namely, the direction in which our country should be heading in regard to maritime technical innovation is strengthening measures for technology for building a 21st century type distribution system, for technologies related to environment and energy problems, for advanced technologies to exploit ocean resources, for creative technologies that open up as yet underdeveloped research areas. To realize these objectives, next-generation technical development projects such as the SMGT and Super Eco-Ship (see below) are being undertaken. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport endeavors to reinforce cooperative links between the National Maritime Research Institute, universities, and industry and government, thereby build a three-way relationship which strengthens maritime technical power.
Challenge ship 21 plan
||Advanced-safety vessel plan
||Total clean ship plan
||Advanced technology development plan
|Fresh themes to be grappled with
||Corrosion Fatigue Collapse Long-life-ship plan Technology
to upgrade inspection Technology to obviate human error
||Viscosity-resistance reduction technology Advanced
electrical propulsion system for vessels
||Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
|Research and development continuation themes
and promotion of practical use themes
||Atomization of navigation Collision and running-aground
warning systems Super light-weight fire-proof structure High-reliability naval
propulsion plant Navigation-simulator technology
||Methanol engines New configuration tanker structure NOx
etc. emissions countermeasures Gas-turbine System for marine use FRP vessel-management
||New configuration super high-speed vessels Ultra-large
floating structures Computer Integrated Manufacturing System (CIMS) for shipbuilding
|Guidance- and Fundamental themes and themes
for long-term promotion
||New life-saving systems
||Nuclear-powered vessels Systems using hydrogen
||Super super high speed vessels Superconducting
magneto hydrodynamic propulsion ship Ship navigation systems for icy waters New
configuration transportation systems
Pursuit of Increased Safety
R&D Project for Advanced Ship Safety Management Systems
In response to rising public concern about safety and the environment, ship safety and reliability regulations are becoming ever more stringent. At the same time, for the Japanese industry to become more competitive, efficiency gains in the marine transport industry brought about by increasing fleet turnaround time, reducing operating costs and ensuring punctual operation.
To enhance the safety of fleet operation and the efficiency of marine physical distribution, the Advanced Ship Safety Management System R&D project was launched in fiscal 2001. This was intended to improve maintenance work efficiency by utilizing the latest IT technology to remotely monitor and diagnose propulsion plant (and other machinery) conditions and offer any necessary support from on shore.
In fiscal 2001, a survey was carried out into the state of ship maintenance including studies on specific system elements such as monitoring technology and on/off shore communication technology.
Advanced Automatic Ship Operation System
Crew sizes have shrunken in recent times on account of automation and other manpower saving. This means there is a greater importance attached to safe ship operation and research thereof than ever before. For this reason an intelligent ship R&D project was undertaken in the 1980s, and in the course of this study principal technologies were established for the realization of an automated ship operation system that would not compromise on safety. As a result of continued active R&D efforts, a ship operation support system that could be managed by even a very small crew was developed.
Advanced Diesel Engine Development
As the number of crew regularly onboard shrinks, it is increasingly difficult for them to take charge of maintenance, inspection and gauging of the hull, main engine and other equipment while at sea. This all necessitates the introduction of maintenance-free machinery and equipment. Recognizing this fact, a study into highly reliable marine propulsion plants was commenced in 1989. The plant was supposed to achieve a dramatic enhancement in reliability and at the same time to provide superior performance features over current standards, including improved thermal efficiency. The project bore fruit when the first advanced diesel engines were mounted on a large hydrographic survey ship, which entered service in March 1998.
Other Safety-Related R&D Projects
With the advent of ever-faster ships, so evaluation methods for the safety of vessels in high-speed operation are needed. R&D work is being undertaken by the National Maritime Research Institute and universities in Japan to devise techniques for simulating and assessing the safety of these high-speed vessels when navigating congested waters or during the automatic operation.
|The first commercial advanced diesel engine (ADD type: right)
and 3,128GT hydrographic survey ship, Shoyo
Conservation of Global and Marine Environment
Super Marine Gas Turbine
As global environmental problems have come to arouse keen concern in recent years, the reduction of air-polluting emissions such as NOx from ships has become a major requirement. On the other hand, to attract and secure manpower for the coasting fleet, improvement of the living and working environment onboard is also required. To overcome these problems, an R&D project on the next generation of marine gas turbines, the Super Marine Gas Turbine (SMGT), began in fiscal 1997 to develop a low NOx but high power marine propulsion plant that requires no onboard maintenance, offers lower noise and vibration levels, and better fuel efficiency.
Next Generation Coasting Ship (Super-Eco Ship)
An R&D project was launched in fiscal 2001 to develop a next generation coasting ship, which would embody technical breakthroughs in meeting the requirements of coastal shipping such as reducing the environmental load, reducing the logistics cost and improving the onboard living and working environment. More specifically, a new hull form matching gas turbines and a highly efficient electrical propulsion system featuring a contra-rotating pod propeller are being developed.
In fiscal 2005, the final year of the project, an actual vessel for the next generation of coastwise shipping will be built for demonstration tests. Once this vessel, reduced in environmental load, operating cost, and noise and vibration levels, and requiring no on-board maintenance, becomes available for commercial service, it is expected to contribute to the revitalization of coastwise shipping and the progress of modal shift from road to waterborne transport, which would mean a substantial alleviation of environmental load.
Sophisticated Recycling System for Disused FRP Craft
To address the social problems posed by illegal offshore dumping of fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) craft and the effects of these abandoned craft sinking and at the same time to meet the public requirements for creating a society that effectively utilizes resources, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) initiated a program called Sophisticated Recycling System for Disused FRP Craft in fiscal 2000. The objective of this project is realizing a commercially operable plant excelling in economy and useful for the recycling of the materials of such craft. More specifically, the project is intended 1) to establish recycling technology for using the crushed pieces of discarded FRP craft as a raw material for cement and the like, and 2) to make it possible to replace only the deteriorated or damaged parts of FRP craft and thereby to extend the useful lives of the hulls themselves.
In fiscal 2000, it was confirmed that discarded FRY could be recycled into crude fuel for cement manufacturing though it involved some problems in calorific value and content adjustment. Also, techniques for joining different parts of the hull (parts of the shell, cabins and living accommodations) were developed, and a conceptual design of a reusable FRP craft was drawn up. In fiscal 2001, demonstration tests on cement baking were conducted along with the development of fundamental aspects to this recycling technology including the choice of the most suitable material for crusher blades Furthermore research was carried out into design work and underlying technologies required to develop a reusable FRP craft.
In fiscal 2002, studies were conducted into how this recycling technology could best be commercialized, as were trials of model reusable craft. This technology is predicted to be commercially viable by fiscal 2005.
Oil Recovery Systems for use in Rough Sea
The wreck of the Russian-flag tanker Nakhodka and the resultant oil spill in January 1997 in the Sea of Japan caused serious damage to the marine environment and fisheries along the Japanese coastline. The disaster was an un-fortunate and alarming reminder of the importance of the conserving the marine environment and making adequate provision against oil spills. Arrangements for spilt oil skimming then available in Japan were only effective against low-viscosity oil under calm sea conditions. No technology for the recovery of high-viscosity oil from a rough sea surface had been developed. This was a serious impediment in dealing with this kind of disaster. So that this problem does arise a second time an R&D project on a recovery system for high-viscosity heavy oil under rough sea conditions was launched in fiscal 1998 as part of a comprehensive program against oil spills. The project came to a successful conclusion in 2000.
Green Ship Project
The Green Ship Project is due to start in 2003 and aims to develop an environmentally friendly ocean-going vessel that will feature advanced greenhouse gas processing and ballast water treatment technologies. Ballast water is seawater used to maintain the stability of an unloaded vessel, and is discharged or replaced as and when cargo is taken on or off board. However when ships release seawater from one geographical region to another, they also risk releasing non-native living organisms into a new ecosystem. These organisms may cause havoc to the local natural environment. To eliminate these risks, it is necessary to reconsider the fundamentals of ship technology and develop a vessel than can operate safely without any ballast water mechanism. Another side to the Green Ship Project is research into technologies that reduce and/or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, studies into harnessing wind power and sail propulsion systems are also underway.
Other Energy Conservation R&D Projects
Energy conservation technology is of particular importance to the ongoing attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which are one of the main causes of global warming, and to more efficiently utilize finite supplies of fossil energy. For many years the shipbuilding industry has undertaken R&D initiatives into energy saving technologies that can reduce fleet operation costs. For instance, the efficiency of propulsion plants including diesel engines has improved remarkably, and energy recovery technologies such as contra-rotating propellers (CRP) and propeller boss-cap fins have realized substantial energy conservation effects.
Advanced Ship Technology and Development of New Demand Areas
Historically, Japan has developed more or less along coastlines, with the result that shallow water areas, particularly bays and inland seas, are densely populated. Accordingly, development of offshore sites is indispensable to meet the increasing requirements of a growing society. However, these waters are too deep or the surface layer of their seabed is too soft for routine construction work to be carried out. To overcome these technical restrictions, R&D on an ultra-large floating structure (Mega-float) started in fiscal 1995.
The Mega-Float R&D project aims at establishing basic technology necessary for the construction of ultra-large floating structures with a length of a few kilometers and durability for many years. Various verification tests on the structure and simulation programs have been conducted using an experimental floating structure completed in July 1996, measuring 300m in length and 60m in width. In fiscal 1997, the basic technology needed for designing and building general-purpose Mega-Floats usable as logistics depots and for other purposes was established.
In fiscal 1997, a feasibility survey on the possible use of a Mega-Float as an airport was conducted, together with an investigation into identifying technical problems involved and conceivable solutions. Research on this possible specific use of the Mega-Float was commenced in fiscal 1998 as a three-year program. In August 1998, a floating airport model of 1,000m in length was constructed under the program, and put to practical tests for its possible use as a disaster rescue center and take-off/landing trials of actual aircraft in September and October 1998, respectively. A study on safety and reliability assessment methods for the Mega-Float was also carried out. These surveys and studies led to a conclusion that a huge Mega-Float airport with a 4,000m runway capacity could remain in useful service for 100 years or longer.
Other R&D Activities
Computational fluid dynamics (CED) is expected to become a powerful tool for research in ship technology in the near future, and studies on CFD are being actively carried out at the National Maritime Research Institute and other universities around Japan.
Shipbuilding companies, on the other hand, have been conducting studies to develop a computer-integrated manufacturing system (CIMS), which will integrate information at every stage of the shipbuilding process from order acceptance to actual construction. This is expected to contribute to improvement of the working environment in shipyards and to further rationalization and efficiency enhancement of the production system, Moreover, a study began in fiscal 1997 on a highly advanced CIMS for common use by different shipbuilding companies.
Consisting of so many islands, Japan has traditionally relied heavily on passenger transport by sea. It therefore requires reliable and consistent operation through improved seaworthiness and greater convenience through higher speed. To meet this requirement, shipbuilding companies are making active attempts to develop small high-speed craft, many of which have successively entered commercial service in recent years.