A Techno-Economic Investigation of Advanced Marine Vehicles

Rodgers, Alan J (1993) A Techno-Economic Investigation of Advanced Marine Vehicles. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

In recent years, both the quantity of high speed craft in service, and the number of locations in which they operate have grown at what could be described as a remarkable rate. The performance of these vessels has continued to improve at the same time, accompanied by a general increase in vehicle size, due mainly to an extensive international research effort in this sector. However, perhaps surprisingly to some observers, the application of Advanced Marine Vehicles in the commercial world has so far been restricted to passenger ferries; their have been very few attempts to apply the technology in an express freight service. The central objective of this Thesis is, therefore, to assess the economic viability of Advanced Marine Vehicles operating as cargo vessels. In the initial stage of the study, the International Trading System was investigated, focussing on the factors most relevant to the design of a high speed cargo ship. This also provided useful benchmark data on cargo flows, against which a potential fast cargo service could be assessed. It became clear at this stage that economies of scale could be important in establishing concept viability. In parallel with this trade study, the current status of Advanced Marine Vehicle Technology was examined, including consideration of the most promising areas of technical development. The objective was to identify the vehicle type offering most potential for carrying cargo and having scope for building larger vessels than those currently in service (to achieve the economies of scale identified as important in the trade study). It was concluded that the Surface Effect Ship best suited these requirements, although the possibility of using foil-assisted catamarans was recognised. Thus discrete preliminary design solutions were developed for each vessel type, to carry 5000t, 3250t & 2000t deadweight with respective ranges of 3000nm, 1500nm, and 1000nm. Although these solutions contained some significant design uncertainties, they were judged to be acceptable in the context of examining economic viability. It was found that surface effect ships offer the most potential for scaling to large size while retaining the high speed advantage of the small craft currently in service. Having estimated the build and operating costs of the SES design solutions, the Required Freight Rate for each was derived through discounted cash flow analyses. The results of a Sensitivity Study were used to allow design and cost uncertainties to be accounted for in the economic appraisal. The limits of AMV economic potential were explored by making assumptions intended to simulate future technical progress. For example, the effect of mid-journey refuelling on RFR was estimated by reducing fuel weight and increasing payload. The economic study demonstrated that AMV's could realistically achieve unit costs 1/5th those of aircraft, but 3 times those of conventional ships. This was an encouraging finding, indicating that there are circumstances where an Advanced Marine Vehicle will be the most economic transport solution. However, based on the results derived in this study it is unlikely that they would be able to attract sufficient cargo volume to sustain an exclusively cargo service. However, there is no reason to doubt their economic viability as passenger ferries, given that passengers, particularly in developed economies, attach a very high value to their time. If the current rate of technical development is maintained and significantly larger vessels are brought into service, then services carrying both passengers and cargo could well be introduced. This practice has become well established in the air freight industry. It is highly likely that Advanced Marine Vehicles will continue to grow in popularity amongst operators and users. The development programmes underway in many countries can only help in the pursuit of more efficient vehicles, providing further impetus to their deployment. While many research projects rightly concentrate on propulsion system technology and fuel economy, future effort could profitably be focussed on material technology and structural optimisation. Improving the payload capacity and thus revenue earning potential of these vessels will be a vital step in maximising overall economic efficiency and hence market penetration.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Douglas Faulkner
Keywords: Naval engineering
Date of Award: 1993
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1993-75460
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 20:03
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 20:03
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/75460

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