Air lubrication

Air lubrication - to eliminate resistance at its source

Air lubrication systems are divided into three categories: air film, microbubbles and air cavity. In an article published in the International publication Ship&Offshore, issue 5/2018, we describe and discuss some practical aspects of each method. SSPA has been involved in numerous projects to develop and test different systems of air lubrication for decades. Our experts has carried out investigations on all these methods by performing tests, simulations and design consultation.

The goal of reducing fuel consumption, enforced by international regulations and high fuel costs, is motivating ship designers to investigate revolutionary ideas or re-visit old techniques and apply them using new technologies. Hull line optimisation and propulsion system improvements are common practice for achieving this goal, but what if we can eliminate resistance (at least partially) at its source.  Air lubrication reduces the drag force on the wetted surfaces of the hull due to the lower viscosity of air compared to water. Powerboats and navy vessels have been using this technique for decades to increase their cruising speed without much consideration to fuel economy. The shipping industry is now recognising the potential of employing this concept for its cargo ships and in the development of the future generation of green vessels. Unfortunately, there is no universal solution since the choice of the method for air lubrication depends on the vessel specification and operating conditions.

Read the full article Hull air lubrication: future and challenges

Link to Ship & Offshore, issue 5/2018