A multinational shipping enterprise with a registered base in Scotland (UK) is seeking novel approaches to outfit their freight and passenger ships with permanent, lightweight buoyancy features that will limit the amount of sea water that can ingress into the ship when there is a hull breach, rendering the ship essentially unsinkable.The Scottish company is looking for partnerships via a joint venture or commercial agreement with technical assistance to pilot technology on a ship.
The company is interested in solutions that go beyond conventional methods used in the marine industry today to provide permanent or temporary buoyancy in the event of a hull breach. For example, the company would consider the use of rigid foams, either to fill an entire compartment, or in blocks, or using other design features that do not restrict valuable cargo space. Another approach considered is the use of multiple large air bladders that could be permanently or temporarily inflated, and that would resist puncture from the hull breach itself.
Some practical considerations for retrofitting existing vessels include:
- Durable material with long lifetime (typically 20-40 years), preferably non-combustible
- Foam or other structures must be able to withstand high water pressures (typically 10m water pillar)
If permanent foams are proposed, they would ideally be made of a low density (less than 0.1 g/cm3), completely closed cell, and non-water-absorbing material
- Technical Viability: solutions proposed must be based on sound scientific principles and have laboratory or pilot scale data that demonstrate efficacy. The proposed solution should be able to provide sufficient buoyancy in the case of the breach of multiple compartments simultaneously.
- Scale up Potential: solutions proposed must have a clear pathway to be applied on commercial ships. Solutions already practiced in marine markets have higher value. The ideal partner would be able to lead the design of full-scale systems, with expertise in foam chemistry, structural mechanics, and installation techniques.
- Costs: lower installation and maintenance costs have higher value.
- Ownership: solutions covered by patents have higher value. At a minimum, proposed solutions must not be prohibited by other patents in the field.
Solutions will not be considered if, in the companies opinion:
- Installation and maintenance costs are prohibitive for broad application (target for installation cost is below 100,000 Euros per ship)
- Proposals lack sufficient supporting laboratory or pilot scale data
- Solutions don't adhere to global maritime environmental or safety regulations
A joint venture or commercial agreement with technical assistance are preferred. It is expected these would lead to a development phase which would likely include a demonstration project where piloting on a ship could be carried out as needed. If the proposed solution is commercially available, technical support can be offered defining the appropriate application and maintenance on ships.
The company is looking for concise, non-confidential proposals. The proposal should describe the technical approach and should ideally include information on the technological readiness of the proposal, any proof of concept data, reference to any peer reviewed publications, and potential route to commercialization.