Recent Technological Developments
Maritime technology, with shipbuilding technology as its core, is the primary means of strengthening the competitiveness of the Japanese maritime industry in the international market, as the industry is required to urgently change the pattern of its technological pursuit from "catching up" to "frontier creation". Thus, the Japanese maritime industry should explicitly step up its initiatives in technological innovation toward building up logistic systems meeting the needs of the 21st century, addressing environmental and energy issues, contributing to advanced utilization of the ocean space and creative technologies to open unexploited new horizons. To achieve these goals, projects to develop next-generation technologies are actively undertaken, including the Super Eco-Ship and the Green Ship. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will further tighten the cooperative links between the National Maritime Research Institute, universities and industry in pursuit of integrated endeavors to further build up maritime technological resources by industry, the academic community and the government.
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 countermeasure 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
||New life-saving systems
||Nuclear-powered vessels Systems using hydrogen
||"Super" super high speed vessels Superconducting magnetohydrodynamic
propulsion ship Ship navigation systems for icy waters New configuration transportation
Increased Safety of Ships
R&D Project for Advanced Ship Safety Management Systems
In response to the public concern about safety and the environment which has been rising in recent years, requirements for safer and more reliable ships are becoming ever more stringent. At the same time, in order to make the Japanese industry more competitive, it is emphatically urged to enhance the efficiency of marine transport by increasing the speed and reducing the cost of fleet operation, and ensuring even greater punctuality.
Under these circumstances, to enhance the safety of fleet operation and the efficiency of marine physical distribution dramatically, the four-year R&D project for an Advanced Ship Safety Management System has been undertaken since fiscal 2001. This project is intended to advance maintenance work by utilizing the latest IT technology to remotely monitor and diagnose the conditions of the propulsion plant and other machinery and offer adequate support from on shore.
Conservation of Global (and Marine) Environment
Next-Generation Coasting Ship (Super-Eco Ship)
An R&D project was begun in fiscal 2001 to develop a next-generation coasting ship which would embody technical breakthroughs in meeting the requirements of coastwise shipping, including the alleviation of environmental loads, curtailment of the logistic cost, and improvement of crew living and working environment on board. More specifically, the aspects of the project now under way include a new hull form matching gas turbines and pod propellers (expected to reduce fuel consumption by about 10% and increasing the payload capacity by a maximum of about 20% ) and highly efficient contrarotating pod propellers which permit lateral movement of the ship. In fiscal 2005, the final year of the project, a next-generation coasting ship will be built and enter demonstration tests. The environmental load (1/10 in NOx emission, 2/5 in SOx emission and 3/4 in C02 emission compared with conventional ships) and transportation cost will be reduced. The ship will also be quiet and require no maintenance work by the crew and, if successfully made available for commercial operation, can be expected to make important contributions to the vitalization of coastwise shipping and, through the modal shift from trucking to coastal shipping, will reduce environmental loads attributable to transport activities.
Super Marine Gas Turbine
Reflecting the growing concern about global environmental issues in recent years, it is becoming increasingly important to reduce air pollutants emitted from ships, such as NOx. On the other hand, to attract and secure adequate manpower for the coasting fleet, the need to improve the working and living environment on board is keenly felt. With a view to meeting these needs, an R&D project for the next generation of marine gas turbines, dubbed the Super Marine Gas Turbine (SMGT), has been under way since fiscal 1997 to develop a low NOx but high specific power marine propulsion plant that requires no onboard maintenance, has reduced noise and vibration levels, and excels in fuel efficiency. By the end of fiscal 2002, the initial development targets (2,500 kw or more power output, 1g/kwh or less NOx emission, 38% or more thermal efficiency, compatibility with A heavy oil) were successfully achieved. The rest of the project schedule includes endurance tests among others to establish sufficient reliability for installation in the next generation of coasting ships (Super-Eco Ships).
Sophisticated Recycling System for Disused FRP Craft
In spite of the increasing public requirements for creating a recycling-oriented society and more effective utilization of resources, no effective technology has been established as yet for the recycling of FRP craft. In view of this situation, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport initiated in fiscal 2000 a project for the establishment of a recycling technology, which would allow crushed pieces of FRP to be used as a raw material for cement. At the same time, technological development will try to reduce wastes generating from FRP craft by extending the useful lives of such vessels.
|Natural gas hydrate (NGH) carrier for next-generation energy designed by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
Green Ship Project
The Green Ship Project intended to develop an environmentally friendly oceangoing vessel (launched in 2003) features advanced ballast water treatment and greenhouse effect gas processing technologies. Ballast water means the "weight" of seawater used to keep the stability of an unloaded ship. It is discharged when the ship takes on a payload or replaced when it is unloaded. Oceangoing ships serving international routes, when they charge and discharge ballast water, involve the risk of proliferating living organisms in alien waters. To eliminate this risk, it is intended to make a fundamental review of ship designs, and to develop a new vessel type that needs no ballast water, a propulsion system matching the non-ballast hull design and a ballast water treatment system meeting the requirements of the pertinent IMO convention. The greenhouse effect gas problem will be addressed by developing a sail rigging system to reduce gas emission by harnessing wind energy.
Advanced Ship Technology and Development of New Demand Areas
Japan developed mainly along coastlines, so shallow water areas including bays and inland seas are densely utilized, and accordingly the expected increase in the demand for social overhead capital would necessitate the exploitation of farther offshore sites. However, these waters are too deep or the surface layer of the seabed underneath is too soft for conventional civil engineering work. To overcome these severe constraints and supplement already available techniques, an R&D attempt to develop a huge floating structure (Mega-Float) has been under way since fiscal 1995.
This Mega-Float R&D project aims at establishing technology needed for the construction of huge floating structures with a length of a few kilometers and a long useful life through demonstration tests at sea. Using a floating model of 300m 60m completed in July 1996, various demonstration tests and program verification were carried out, and basic technology needed for the designing and building of general-purpose Mega-Floats, usable as logistics depots, was established in fiscal 1997.
In fiscal 1997, a feasibility survey on the possible use of a Mega-Float as an airport was also conducted to identify technical problems involved in such use and study solutions. Under a three-year program from fiscal 1998 onward, R&D work was geared to specific use of the Mega-Float. In August 1998, a large model of about 1 km in length was completed, and used for aircraft landing/takeoff tests (October 1999) and disaster rescue tests (September 1999). A study on safety and reliability assessment methods for the Mega-Float was also carried out. These surveys and studies led to a conclusion by a study group, set up within the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, that a Mega-Float airport with a 4,000 m class runway could remain in effective service for 100 years or even longer.
Other Advanced R&D Activities
The National Maritime Research Institute and universities are actively studying Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which is expected to prove very useful in future R&D attempts in the area of ship technology. CFD is also used, together with Computer-Aided Design (CAD), in developing a hull form for the Super Eco Ship. Shipbuilding companies, on the other hand, have been committed to R&D attempts for a computer-integrated manufacturing system (CIMS) for shipbuilding to improve the working environment in shipyards and to further rationalize and enhance the efficiency of production systems. In fiscal 1997, a study was begun on a highly advanced CIMS for common use by different shipbuilders, based on the sharing of shipbuilding knowledge.
|Techno-Seaways Inc. will soon operate commercial TSL. (a seagoing image)
Consisting of so many islands, Japan has traditionally relied heavily on passenger transport by sea. Accordingly, the country needs reliable and consistent operation through improved seaworthiness and greater convenience through higher speed of passenger ships. To meet these needs, many shipbuilding companies are actively trying to develop high speed small craft, many of which have successively entered commercial service in recent years.