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Samsung Heavy to Secure 1,000 More Patents by 2015

Posted April. 07, 2010 05:22,   


Samsung Heavy Industries yesterday said it will acquire about 1,000 more patents by investing 500 billion won (445 million U.S. dollars) in the development of eco-friendly shipbuilding technologies by 2015.

The company holds 1,000 patent rights, and in a related move, it recently completed the basic design of a ship that runs on natural gas.

○ Cheap fuel

Ha Mun-geun, managing director at the product technology research center of Samsung Heavy Industries’ shipbuilding and marine engineering think tank, said, “We will develop technologies in three major fields -- design, engine systems and gas emission processing. The key is to cut harmful substances in emissions and reduce fossil fuel consumption, while maintaining ship speed.”

Ha said Samsung Heavy Industries has secured 10 patents in gas supply systems, as it recently completed the conceptual design” of the natural gas-powered ship. The design can be applied to all types of ships.

Such a ship can cut CO2 emissions 20-25 percent, nitrogen compounds 90 percent, and sulfur compounds more than 99 percent compared with conventional ships powered by heavy oil.

The shipbuilding industry says the technology for natural gas-powered ships will attract more orders since it is more economical for shipping companies due to the low maintenance cost, though these ships will cost more to build.

Samsung Heavy Industries said, “If a 120,000 ton-class oil tanker is built as a gas-powered ship, it will cost 70 million U.S. dollars, about 20 percent more than a conventional vessel. But the fuel cost of the ship will decline to about 3.5 million dollars per year, or about half the fuel cost for a conventional ship at current oil prices.”

The gas saved by the ship over 20 years of operation will be enough to buy a new ship, the company added.

Other Korean shipbuilders are also scrambling to develop eco-friendly shipbuilding technologies. Hyundai Heavy Industries developed and exported last month the world’s first eco-friendly engine that meets the International Maritime Organization’s nitrogen oxide regulation set to take effect in 2011.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering will produce a prototype of an eco-friendly vessel propulsion system emitting 23 percent less CO2 than diesel engines with the same power output jointly with MAN Diesel of Denmark.

STX Offshore and Shipbuilding has also developed the conceptual design of an eco-friendly vessel that uses natural gas.

○ Intensifying marine eco standards

The shipbuilding industry seeks to develop “eco-friendly vessels” as part of efforts to preemptively cope with toughening environmental regulations set by countries. A growing number of ports are denying access and docking by ships that can potentially cause environmental pollution, while the maritime organization is set to toughen its environmental regulations.

Kim Jin-ki, section head of the basic design team 1 at Samsung Heavy Industries, said, “A growing number of ports require ship operators to equip their vessels with tanks for storing precipitation and gas-oil separators to preempt the possibility that rain mixes with oil onboard and falls into the sea.”

A shipbuilding industry source said, “The exhibition of eco-friendly shipbuilding technologies was a major trend at Nor-Shipping, the world’s largest shipbuilding and merchant marine expo held last year.”

“We will barely survive unless we secure related technologies at a time when the business environment is changing so dramatically like now.”