Excellence in engineering: the 5 best sustainable solutions of 2021


1. Innovations in naval architecture

One of the best examples of greener solutions in naval architecture can be best understood through the LIFE platform, a collaboration between the Oceanco shipyard and Lateral Naval Architects. This takes a close look at the length of the yacht’s waterline as well as its weight, best described as the displacement-to-length ratio. This has become a fundamental aspect of Lateral Naval Architect’s AQUA concept, improving the efficiency of the hull shape as an example. In this way, a 30-35% increase in fuel efficiency is achieved by increasing the length of the waterline. Another notable feature of naval architecture is the massive use of glass on the ship’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 so far have been another big contributor. This creates less speed, less weight and therefore greater efficiency.

2. Technology of fuel cells and alternative fuels

Lürssen, one of the few major shipyards to have developed fuel cell technology, presented a major breakthrough in the yachting industry: fuel cell technology. This includes the vessel’s ability to anchor emission-free for 15 days, an exciting first for the industry. In addition, the Lürssen Innovation Lab will be used to simulate and test the integration of a marine hybrid fuel cell system, powered by methanol. This keen eye on the future of Lürssen and many other shipyards will assess how renewable energies will pave the way for the future. The superyacht industry’s search for alternative fuels continues to consider everything from hydrogen to methanol. However, challenges around the supply chain, distribution network and the viability and scalability of these options remain.

3. SCR technology and heat recovery systems

Eco-efficiency has continued to evolve in new and exciting ways. The role of SCR technology is a prime example of this, reducing nitrogen oxides as a significant technological breakthrough. SCR units are capable of reducing NoX by more than 75%. Heat recovery systems are one of the most exciting talking points in the superyacht industry. Heat recovery systems have also been an integral part of advancements in sustainability. Taking energy from the superyacht’s engine and using it to heat your hot tub, swimming pool or even to get palpable drinking water on board is proof that these advancements can improve the owner’s experience as well. The North of Lürssen, Flying Fox and Madsummer have installed waste heat recovery on board intelligent energy, throughout the wide operational profile of the vessel. Many other vessels in the industry have adopted it as the sustainable solution of choice, including Oceanco’s Black Pearl, Bravo Eugenia and DreAMBoat.

4. Reduce emissions in construction

When considering the total energy production required to build a superyacht, the energy required must be taken into account. Today’s most modern shipyards, including Feadship’s Amsterdam facility, include everything from district heating to solar power. Other fundamental, but important internal steps include banning plastic bottles and ensuring a sustainable philosophy among internal team members.

5. Life cycle assessments and interior innovations

Teak decks may have already been a dominant interior accent. However, after seeing the supply of teak in Europe dwindle over the past decade, today we instead see viable alternatives that match in their aesthetics without the impact. So far, much research has been carried out on the sourcing of alternative wood and synthetic products. This is not where the hard work ends. Design products with reused plastic, dining tables for 20 people from fishing nets only, and FSC-certified sources for materials and non-toxic paints and varnishes.

A yacht can be for life, not just a season at sea. Life cycle assessments present an exciting opportunity for the industry. Not only to create new environmentally friendly yachts with the latest and best technology, but also to take care of the existing fleet. It requires that ships are constantly well maintained by the owners, well maintained by their crew. The most sustainable approach for a product is to extend its shelf life. Feadship’s PURE concept is a prime example of this and has an integration plan through 2030, to be in step with technology and eco-integrations along the way. Beyond Feadship’s PURE, this approach must also be applied to the entire refit industry. How can yachts be improved and developed over time? How can they stay compliant with regulatory standards when they change faster than ever?


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