Thinking inside the box

Sustainable solutions in the maritime industry come in various forms, but they share one thing. Implementation has to be as easy as possible. Sometimes companies use the most accepted shape in shipping for their products: the intermodal container.

A shape people in the maritime industry know how to handle. A container can be transported on a ship and with a truck. It can also stand-alone on the quay. The following article presents sustainable solutions that have the shape of a container.

The journey towards a sustainable world stands or falls with the energy transition. At the moment fossil fuels make the world go around. One of the steps in that energy transition is the Skoonbox, swappable battery pack in the form of a 20-foot container. This is an initiative of Skoon Energy. The company manages an infrastructure of standard-size battery containers and strategically located charging hubs with 100 per cent green energy supply. The network is for mobile and temporary applications.

Although Skoon Energy is aiming at a wide range of clients, the company has a strong maritime focus. Among the first users will be the Borelli, an inland vessel measuring 110 metres. Skoon has also formed a partnership with Damen. The company will benefit from Damen’s extensive experience in complex, international shipbuilding projects, as well as its global commercial network.

“It is no coincidence that our launching costumer is from the maritime industry”, explains Peter Paul van Voorst tot Voorst. He founded Skoon Energy together with Daan Geldermans.

“Because of the strict regulations on board, a product on a vessel has to be completely safe.” The Skoonbox can also be of use during festivals to supply electricity instead of a generator. “We often get the question if it is safe. Our answer is that the Skoonbox is made for use onboard of vessels. That usually says enough, because everybody knows how strict safety regulations are in the maritime industry.”

Skoon Energy was inspired by the Invasave, developed by Damen. “We liked the idea that all the equipment fitted inside a container. That made the Invasave compact and easy to transport. So we used that element for our Skoonbox”, says Van Voorst tot Voorst. Damen helps Skoon Energy with advice and let them use their network. “We really benefit from that partnership. They have a lot of expertise and a huge network. We are proud that they want to help us.”

At the moment Skoon Energy is working hard to make the logistics behind the battery transparent. “This involves testing the Skoonbox at terminals and also make an app that provides services to our clients. They have to know where to pick up a full Skoonbox and where to drop an empty one.” Van Voorst tot Voorst and Geldermans have high hopes for 2019. “We’re looking forward to make fully electric shipping the norm within the maritime industry.”

The Hybrid Energy Container. Photo by Topec BV

The InvaSave. Photo by Damen

With the ratification of the IMO ballast water convention ship owners have to take action to make sure that the ballast water that leaves their vessels doesn´t contain exotic organisms that can disrupt local ecosystems. Ship owners that have no treatment system onboard, can use the InvaSave. This is a portable ballast water treatment unit in the shape of a container.

“Some said this was impossible. They thought we never could fit all the techniques necessary in a container. It wasn’t easy”, says Matthijs Schuiten, Product Manager Mobile Ballast Water Treatment Damen Shipyards Group. “You are building something that doesn’t exists. Untreated water goes in one side of the container; clean water comes the other end. We had to innovate and invent parts our self.”

The InvaSave technology is based on continuous filtration combined with ultraviolet treatment. Sludge and sediment is dewatered and compacted in a secondary treatment so it can be further processed ashore. Treated water meets the ballast water performance standard specified in Regulation D-2 of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. That makes the InvaSave the world’s only land-based ballast water management system that is actually IMO-certified to carry out such a job in a single treatment step, without any holding times or use of chemicals.

Not only ship owners can benefit. Also port authorities and terminals can be proactive in the treatment of ballast water, ensuring a smooth course of events when a visiting vessel is not capable of treating its own ballast water. “We believe that the InvaSave can make a real difference in ports. If a visiting vessel has problems with its on-board treatment system, it can clog the operations in a terminal.

If there is an InvaSave around, it can help to discharge the ballast water so that the vessel can be unloaded.” Recently an InvaSave was transported to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to be used for a demonstration programme as part of the ‘Atlantic Blue Port Services’ project. The unit will be connected to a vessel’s ballast water manifold to treat the no-longer needed water.

Hybrid Energy Container

A company can prefer renewable energy, but the supply of energy has to be reliable. Wind and solar energy depend on weather conditions. To make sustainability ambitions more attainable, a marriage between renewable and traditional energy technologies is at the moment a logic option.

Energy Solutions Center has developed a hybrid microgrid container that operates fully off-grid. This 20 feet container integrates the output of solar panels and a supplemental diesel generator with Li-ion-battery storage. The generator and battery storage are housed neatly inside the container, which is the heart of the microgrid. Energy Solutions Center developed this sustainable energy solution with EST Floattech and sister company Pon Power.

Energy Solutions Center (a Topec brand name) has developed this solution specifically for Pon, but the advantages proved so substantial, that they decided to turn it into an inspiring showcase. The company offers a combination of organizational and technical expertise, and is ready to apply the insights gained to realize similar solutions for other customers.