‘It ticks all the boxes’: Harwood Marine's big new idea
INVENTORS armed with nothing but a good idea are sometimes met with scorn, but Ross Roberts is urging leaders to back a visionary technology.
The managing director of Harwood Marine has been working with Japanese marine engineer and inventor Yoshiaki Takahashi for more than a decade on a technology that could drastically reduce shipping emissions.
The Gas Injected Liquid Lubrication System, or GILLS, is a technology that reduces drag when attached to ships, resulting in a 10 per cent reduction in fuel consumption.
While Mr Roberts acknowledged good ideas can take time to be developed, he is bitterly disappointed in a lack of interest from political and industry leaders at a time when they should be supporting emission reduction technologies.
"There are not that many people working on the solutions, but there are plenty of people working on the problem," he said.
"You are talking about something that could reduce global emissions.
"We are champing at the bit to do something about it; we have part of the solution."
GILLS works by producing tiny bubbles underneath the hull of a ship, which then expand, helping the boat slide through the water with less resistance.
Mr Roberts likened it to the way fish blew water out of their gills and penguins propelled themselves out of the ocean.
"Penguins take bubbles in their feathers, dive down and then quickly release them and they expand and that's what shoots them out of the water out onto the ice," he said.
While 10 per cent may not seem like a dramatic reduction, Dr Vikram Garaniya, associate head of research at the Australian Maritime College, said one container ship could emit almost the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars.
This was because container ships used dirtier or less refined fuels and Dr Garaniya said sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides were some of the nastiest pollutants found in emissions from ships.
"Global shipping contributes about 15 per cent of all human-caused nitrogen oxide emissions," he said.
"In 2020, new world standards will reduce the maximum allowed level of sulphur in fuel from 3.5 to 0.5 per cent.
"These major changes cannot be achieved merely by tweaking or tuning engines, but require revolutionary changes on board ships."
Mr Roberts said he was already getting more inquiries into GILLS after the recent law changes but wanted Australian governments to get behind it to maximise its potential.
He said the fuel reduction could be "enormous", particularly on the growing number of cruise liners, some of which use over 300,000 litres of fuel per day.
"There are solutions out there and some of them are expensive but this one is not," he said.
"Save fuel for the ship owner, save docking costs and reduce emissions.
"It ticks all the boxes."