Istanbul-born Ferhat Acuner, Managing Director of Navtek Naval Technologies Inc., has 33 years of experience in marine engineering.
Prior to joining Navtek Naval Technologies, he worked in project management and development for distinguished shipbuilding, ship design, ship operations and ship repair companies.
He has also held senior positions in unique project developments, Powership®, Karadeniz Holding A.Ş., is the name given to a fully integrated barge/vessel mounted floating power plant.
Through many years of experience and knowledge, Acuner develops and focuses on the importance of innovative ideas and technologies for a greener future.
Marine Log (ML): In your experience, how is technology shaping the future of ship design, especially in the tug market?
The future of ship design will obviously be shaped by the power source. Environmental sensitivity turns into strong and binding international rules and regulations to reduce all kinds of pollutant emissions, so that energy sources for propulsion shift from fossil fuels to new ones such as hydrogen, batteries and similar zero-emission technologies.
These new technologies also come with their logistical needs. The design parameters should now include them. The tug market, in particular harbor tugs, are the first types of vessels to be affected for several reasons: they operate within city limits and are therefore more sensitive to emissions, they have a limited range and therefore easier to solve possible problems such as refueling and recharging, and energy logistics.
ML: What can you tell us about your range of ZEETUG (zero emission electric tugs)? (size, propulsion, construction phase, etc.)
The ZEETUG project is the only proven rechargeable harbor tug project in the world. Almost two years, the first ZEETUG worked successfully and it continues.
The project started in 2018 with a request from the GİSAŞ Tug and Pilot Company for an eco-friendly design solution as part of their tug fleet renewal plan. As a first step, we had to determine the propulsion system of the project to trace the path of research and development.
ML: Which is more practical? Diesel, hybrid, LNG or all-electric propulsion system?
Diesel was not the ecological solution. The LNG system was not suitable for a smaller tug, so this solution was also eliminated.
The hybrid only reduced emissions by 50%, our goal was to reach up to 70%. Our decision was to go with an all-electric propulsion system due to meeting the criteria. Efficiency was one of the most important factors affecting whether the required battery capacity increased or decreased.
The energy concept led us to statistical studies of the operations of existing similar tugs.
We analyzed the total amount of energy required for a predetermined period of operation, and the total energy requirements were lower than we expected. This result clearly showed that a fully battery-powered electric tug was feasible.
Our engineering studies led us to develop a new design concept for tugs, the ZEETUG.
After thousands of hours of work, dozens of updates and layout changes, we found the optimal design solution.
In this first project, all the components were developed, designed and manufactured by NAVTEK according to the needs and requests of our customers.
During this time, we were also developing a fast charging station. As we named it Quick Charge Station (QCS), which is able to fully charge a ZEETUG30 within one hour, was also custom developed and manufactured for Tuzla Bay Infrastructure, Gisaş Pier – Turkey.
The QCS provides the required electrical power by converting AC to DC to essential system voltage and current. Due to the need for high current capacity and cable sizing, a cable handling crane with a cable storage drum was designed. STEMS (Smart Tug Energy Management System) was originally developed for ZEETUG but is now used for any battery powered vessel.
After this period of successful operation, we published the status report and the report clearly indicates that the project is a success and zero emission operations of harbor tugs are now possible.
Today, three other ZEETUGs are under construction. In accordance with the experience acquired thanks to our good prototype ZEETUG 30. They are two ZEETUG 30 as sisterships of the first and a ZEETUG 45, tug with Bollard Pull ASD propulsion of 45 tons.
Moreover, we continue to study the charge of the batteries during the free rotation of the propeller. In addition, today we are focusing on developing an excellent combination of all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell system, the goal is the same: zero-emission operations. By 2022, we plan to announce our first Hydrogen FC combo rechargeable all-electric tugboat.
ML: How likely are your battery-powered tugs to start operations in the United States? What about hydrogen tugs?
We have been introducing ZEETUG technology to the US market since 2018, we don’t have a contract yet. Due to the Jones Act we cannot export the final product but we need to have partners here in the US, we have several contacts and hope to start the first US ZEETUG project by 2022.
ML: Do you have any experience working with US shipyards or naval architects on these projects? If so, can you tell us more about it?
Unfortunately, we haven’t had such an experience yet but we are working on it, we hope to have a good cooperation to start the construction of ZEETUG projects in the United States during this year.
ML: In addition to tugs, NAVTEK works on many other types of vessels. What are your most common ship designs and what technologies do you incorporate into those ships?
For the past 10 years, we have focused on “greener technologies”. So we have different projects going on other than the ZEETUGs, because they all have common characteristics: “less energy requirements, less or no emissions, ready for remote and autonomous operations”.
For example, Combo Green: 10,000 dwt ocean-going bulk carrier with renewable energy sources on board and operating with approx. 52% less fuel consumption, we are also developing a fully electric river version of the Combo Green. We are also working on port decarbonization projects: electrification of existing port facilities and finally providing zero-emission ports with their own renewable energy sources like solar PP and wind PP.