British company Silverstream Technologies – a leading air lubrication manufacturer for the shipping industry – is to fit its technology to vessels built by Hudong-Zhonghua, part of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Group.

CSSC is China’s largest shipbuilding group, and the second largest in the world.

Silverstream’s air lubrication technology – the Silverstream® System – will be integrated into Hudong-Zhonghua’s new designs for its future LNG carriers to increase operational and fuel efficiencies, reducing fuel costs and emissions by between 6% and 8% for laden and ballast conditions.

Air lubrication fundamentally changes the interaction between water and a vessel’s hull. Air released from units in the hull creates a carpet of bubbles which fully coats the flat bottom of a vessel. As a result, frictional resistance is reduced – dramatically reducing fuel consumption and associated emissions.

Ship technology firms have been toying with the idea of air lubrication for more than 100 years. Now, as new regulations and concerns about the environment drive investment decisions, the concept may finally catch on.


When the oil price rises, so does demand for energy-efficiency technologies across the transport sector. Furthermore, as the International Maritime Organisation’s 2020 sulphur cap draws nearer, the shipping industry is having to figure out how to cope with the significantly higher cost of compliant fuels.

From January 1 next year, the limit for sulphur in fuel oil used in ships operating outside designated emission control areas will be reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxides emanating from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.

Major players are already turning to mechanisms which will charge ship owners more to transport cargo across the seas. Which is why a growing number of companies are also investing in energy-efficiency technologies to cut fuel costs over time.

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