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What is a Hull Air Lubrication System?

Air lubrication systems operate by releasing microbubbles under the hull, creating a layer of aerated water that minimizes friction between the hull and seawater, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and, therefore, lowered emissions.

WHAT IS AIR LUBRICATION?

A hull air lubrication system is designed to reduce the drag that occurs between a ship’s hull and the surrounding seawater. To achieve this, many system’s use air compressors to generate a continuous flow of air.


The air is then passed beneath the ship’s bottom plate surface through embedded piping and air cavities in the hull. This results in a layer of air bubbles being created that reduce the drag encountered by the ship’s hull as it moves through the water.

A reduction in drag corresponds to a decrease in power required to propel the vessel at the ordered speed and, consequently, a reduction of fuel consumption leading to lower emissions, higher profit margins and a cleaner environment.

  • Dependence on sea state: Ship rolling can render these air lubrication systems ineffective as the bubble carpet in these conditions now escapes to the side and no longer lubricates the hulls flat surface.
  • Power demand from compressors: Continuous operation of air compressors requires additional auxiliary engine power supply. Particularly when an additional aux engine must be brought on line, at a sub-optimal load, to supply power for the air lubrication systems.
  • Space and installation: Installation space requirements for compressor are needed, plus extensive associated piping and higher levels of vibration and noise.
  • Additional Increased Drag: Potential of increased vessel drag when a system is non-operational.

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