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AirOcean - Air-lubrication for Oceangoing vessels

The main objective of AirOcean is to reduce environmental footprint and increase energy efficiency of oceangoing vessels by providing know-how for design and application of effective air-lubrication systems (ALS).

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Illustration of project

The project aims to reduce fuel consumption from oceangoing vessels, which is a required contribution towards zero emission shipping. More than 70% of resistance of oceangoing vessels is skin friction. Application of effective air-lubrication reduces the skin friction. Current air-lubrication systems (ALS) report up to 10% net savings depending on vessel type and operation. This number shows improvement potential considering the large portion of skin friction.

This project will provide knowledge on ALS to shipping industry so that more ships are built or retrofitted with ALS. The project aims also to improve the net savings by 5%. This is done by multi-disciplinary approach, considering the whole system.

ALS requires powerful compressors for injecting air bubbles or air layers on the wetted surface of the vessel. Effective performance and power usage of compressors is essential to achieve improved net savings.

How to understand air lubrication

The physics of air lubrication are not fully understood. This project will perform numerical simulations, laboratory experiments, full scale field measurements and monitoring to highlight mechanism of air-lubrication and propose improvements.

Moreover, effect of advanced surface structures on further reduction of skin friction in combination with ALS will be studied. The effect of ALS on biofouling will be investigated.

The propeller will operate in lighter loading condition when resistance is reduced. Customized propeller design is required. Customized hull design will be considered to achieve more effective air-lubrication and less unfavourable interaction with the propeller.

The consortium includes complete chain of stakeholders, 3 ship owners, hull designer and propeller manufacturer, coating supplier, compressor manufacturer, air-lubrication supplier, a research institute and a university.

Illustration of the work packages


Research partners: SINTEF Ocean (Coordinator), NTNU.
Ship owners: Grieg Star, Klaveness Ship Management, Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Skipsrederi.
Technology providers: Jotun, Kongsberg Maritime, TMC Compressors, Alfa Laval.



Key Factors

Project duration

2023 - 2027