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ClassNK boosts R&D in Singapore

The Global Research and Innovation Centre, ClassNK's first research centre outside Japan, will work on projects with industry, academia and government agencies in Singapore and from around the world.

"MPA funding and support of infrastructure like METB (Maritime Energy Test Bed) are key to our plans to forge world class R&D in Singapore with our global partners," says Mr Nakamura.

AS an independent, non-profit ship classification society, ClassNK has joined forces with government, industry and leading academic institutions both in Japan and globally to be involved in over 300 research and development (R&D) projects since 2009.

A new focus was given to ClassNK's regional R&D activities in 2011, when it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Since then, ClassNK has collaborated with the Energy Research Institute @NTU in many maritime industry projects with maritime clean energy being the focus of one of them.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has committed S$7 million of funding to support the Maritime Clean Energy Research Programme in ERI@N.

In February this year, ClassNK announced the opening of the Global Research and Innovation Centre (GRIC) in Singapore. As its first research centre outside Japan, GRIC will carry out research with industry, academia and government agencies in Singapore and from around the world on various projects such as the development of an exhaust gas cleaning system which would be tested at the Maritime Energy Test Bed (METB) facility that opened on Monday (Nov 2).

Expanding research to many other aspects of the maritime industry in future, the centre will mainly concentrate its efforts on projects related to structural integrity; fatigue related projects; rugged robotics monitoring systems; and materials/composite for the marine environment. This will be done mostly through joint industry programmes.

Says Yasushi Nakamura, executive vice president and representative director, ClassNK: "The establishment of the GRIC has seen ClassNK team up together with government agencies, maritime industry partners, IHLs and research institutes in Singapore and across the world on a diverse variety of R&D projects.

"In the short term, more projects will be established with the support of IHLs and industry partners within two or three years. ClassNK already invested in some of these projects in 2014.

"After the first couple of years, the strategy is to build in-house research capabilities and recruit researchers in Singapore, whilst re-locating some researchers from Japan. As more projects and funding support from Singapore government agencies expand the R&D activities already developed in the area, in the next five years ClassNK will develop GRIC further in terms of manpower and infrastructure and manage all R&D projects in Singapore and globally completely from GRIC."

Coinciding with the opening of GRIC, ClassNK and MPA signed a MOU to promote R&D and innovation in the maritime industry.

Over the next five years, ClassNK and MPA will join forces to foster maritime thought leadership on technology through conferences and workshops, and carry out joint R&D projects focused on enhancing ship safety and environmental sustainability in four main areas:

  • Safe ships: Fatigue-related research and evaluation of structural integrity for safe and reliable construction and operations of ships.
  • Smart ships: Data analytics to assist in real-time anomaly detection of machinery, real-time monitoring of emissions and condition-based monitoring of structures for ship and machinery operations.
  • Environmentally-friendly ships: Applied research in emission control and alternative fuel engine technologies to achieve reductions in SOx, NOx, and particulate matter.
  • Marine renewable energy: Research on developing tropical marine energy test site and tidal energy generation, material biofouling studies, and energy storage systems for shore power supply.

"ClassNK is dedicated to securing a safer, greener future, and the METB represents the next step in our efforts to achieve this goal and develop a key infrastructure for maritime translational research," says Mr Nakamura.

"Together with our industry and academic partners in Singapore and around the world we hope to contribute to the advancement of future green technologies for the entire maritime industry by carrying out R&D projects utilising the METB facility."

ClassNK has some projects currently being carried out with the Energy Research Institute @NTU which will use the METB facility. Its marquee project in Singapore is on development of a total solution for exhaust gas cleaning system.

"The main objective of the project is to conduct research on an exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) that can be used to control SOx emissions outside emission control areas (ECAs). Unlike the development of EGCS intended for use inside ECAs, this research will focus on the future need to comply with SOx emissions regulations outside ECAs after 2020 or 2025," says Mr Nakamura.

"Working with a leading EGCS manufacturer, the project will utilise the most advanced technology available to simplify EGCS operations, as well as reduce both costs and CO2 emissions compared with existing EGCS for conventional ECAs."

Mr Nakamura says that this project is an example of how ClassNK collaborates with IHLs in Singapore. The project involves a shipowner, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line), the Monohakobi Technology Institute, an NYK Group company, and ClassNK teaming up with NTU and SembCorp Marine Technology, an industry partner for shiprepair and retrofitting.

"The project is a good example of how additional projects will be created in Singapore, with funding support given by the MPA and the Singapore Maritime Institute. For ClassNK this represents a marquee project and an example of industry partners, academia and government coming together in a programme that will have a great impact on the global maritime industry."

As ClassNK envisions a progressive development of GRIC in Singapore, there will be a steady increase in practical R&D projects in Singapore that will benefit the industry.

"MPA funding and support of infrastructure like METB are key to our plans to forge world class R&D in Singapore with our global partners," says Mr Nakamura.

"Through the conferences and workshops organised by ClassNK and MPA, we hope to engage cross disciplinary experts from industry and academia to participate and advise future projects created in Singapore. This approach allows new ideas and technologies implemented in other industry domains to have a spillover effect on maritime projects. This enhances project interest among young researchers and probably creates an avenue to attract a younger generation to join the marine industry."