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Vale tests iron ore carrier that produces air bubbles to reduce emissions

Vale’s first ore carrier equipped with air lubrication system is scheduled to arrive in Brazilian waters in August.

The world’s second-largest shipper of iron ore is testing a technique supplied by the English manufacturer Silverstream in which compressors send air to devices under vessels, forming a carpet of bubbles that reduces friction between the hull and the water. 

The company expects to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from navigation.

The technology, known as air lubrication, was installed in the Sea Victoria, a Guaibamax with a capacity of 325 thousand tonnes.

Vale’s navigation team estimates that, if the test is successful, the technology could be replicated on the remainder of the contracted fleet dedicated to transporting the company’s ore.

“Conservative estimates point to a fuel reduction of around 5 to 8%, with a potential reduction of 4.4% in annual emissions from Vale´s maritime transport of iron ore,” Vale technical manager of Navigation, Rodrigo Bermelho said in a media statement.

The miner is stepping up environmental, social and governance efforts after recent tailings dam disasters.

Recently, Vale announced the launch of the world’s first ore carrier equipped with rotor sails, scheduled to arrive in Brazil at the end of the month. Like air lubrication, the new technology was installed on a Guaibamax.