"We identify what goes into the ship and what can be reused," says Jurrit Bergsma of TNO. "In addition, we enable the green or circular nature of a ship or system to be comparable, so that you can attach an energy label to it, just as you would to household appliances. Such a label is a nice competitive element, a benchmark for further greening. Shipowners are interested in this, so we are encouraging the sector to become more sustainable."
Simply put, the researchers cut the ship into pieces. Bergsma explains: "The steel structure, the wood, the insulation material, the engine, the furniture, and so on. We then investigate where each component comes from and the implications of this for the carbon footprint. For example, does a part come from China or IJmuiden? Finally, we examine where improvements can be made, possibly by comparing the results with other ships."
Then what makes the investigation so complicated? Bergsma: "While a lot of information about the components is known, much is not known. If you have marble or a composite on board a luxury yacht, the actual impact is sometimes not yet identified. But our knowledge and insights allow us to make a correct and objective estimate of this. This independent and expert role is also useful in the process of comparability, i.e. awarding an 'energy label'."
The research should eventually lead to a top 10 of measures and a circularity overview of short-cycle materials such as iron and aluminium, hazardous materials such as lead and asbestos and rare materials such as copper and cadmium. In order to demonstrate the economic, ecological and technical feasibility, TNO demonstrates this through projects. In addition, we research the set up new business cases in which materials and components are leased.
Would you like to know more about TNO's research into circular shipping or do you see opportunities to contribute to it?