Fender Fortified with Polyurethane Resin on US’ First Zero Emissions Tugboat  

Figure 1. US’ first zero emissions, all-electric tugboat, the eWolf
Figure 1. US’ first zero emissions, all-electric tugboat, the eWolf

In order to keep the planet on track for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, at COP28, negotiators from 200 Parties agreed on the science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that: ‘[…] limiting warming to around 1.5°C (2.7°F) requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030.’ This is a colossal amount and is dependent upon a tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

Figure 2. Image IREANA
Figure 2. Image IREANA

Prior to COP28, in July 2023, the UN agency, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), considerably vamped up its strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ocean freight. The Organisation’s revised targets aim to reduce carbon emissions from international shipping by 40% by 2030, and to achieve net zero by 2050, based on 2008 levels.

The Maritime Industry’s ‘Most Important Mitigation Measure’

One of the fundamental ways in which this sector can achieve this is through ‘scalable zero emission fuels’. According to a 2023 Report from one of the world-leading authorities on climate science, Climate Action Tracker: ‘To achieve full decarbonisation, the shipping sector will need to adopt alternative fuels, otherwise known as scalable zero emission fuels, to power vessels.’ The Report goes on to describe how: ‘This is the most important mitigation measure.’ Scalable zero emission fuels typically refer to hydrogen, ammonia, e-methanol and electric battery.

Considering the seismic reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions required by the maritime industry by 2030, advances in technology, such as the US’ first zero emissions, all-electric tugboat, the eWolf, is a huge step forwards in terms of decarbonising this sector.  

The US’ First Zero Emissions, All-Electric Tugboat

Launched in 2023, the 25 metre (82 ft) eWolf is leading the way in terms of mitigating the climate impact of the maritime sector. Over the first 10 years of its use, the operation of the new ‘eTug’ will reduce 178 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 2.5 tons of diesel particulate matter, and 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), versus a conventional tugboat.

The eWolf is capable of speeds of up to 12 knots, and will be powered by a 6.2 megawatt-hour main propulsion battery and two electric motors. The electricity comes from a charging station that is part of a microgrid facility, equipped with two energy storage containers. Battery modules in each container have a storage capacity of nearly 1.5 megawatt-hours.

Bonding Solution Required for Front Fender

The front fender for the eWolf needed to be bonded together using a strong adhesive that would withstand pushing and pulling forces during the process of adhering the fender to the eTug. Having established confidence in Belzona technology from using their polymeric systems in previous applications, the Customer chose Belzona once again for the application.   

System Specification: Elastomeric Primer and Polyurethane Resin

Following an inspection by Micah Heath, Technical Consultant at Belzona Distributorship, Belzona Alabama, the fast curing, one-part elastomeric primer, Belzona 2911 (Elastomer QD Conditioner), was specified. This conditioner is optimised for adhesion to a variety of substrates including rubber, as required for this particular application. For the bonding, the polyurethane resin, Belzona 2211, was specified. This flexible rubber repair material is optimised for applications where high build, durability and elasticity are required.

Application Procedure

“Once the required surface preparation was completed using grinding wheels and MBX Bristle Blaster, the conditioner, Belzona 2911 (Elastomer QD Conditioner), was applied. As soon as the conditioner was touch dry, the polyurethane resin, Belzona 2211, was used to attach the plugs into the fender, and then attach the 3-part fender together. The application team used a manual cable puller to apply the necessary pressure to ensure the various surfaces were sufficiently pressed together. Once completed, the application was left for 36 hours to cure, achieving an excellent mechanical bond.”

Micah Heath

Technical Consultant at Belzona Distributorship, Belzona Alabama

Policy is Key Driver in Roll-Out of Zero Emissions Technology  

Over the past few years, numerous policies have been launched worldwide which have provided huge cash injections for technologies and industries that support the net zero by 2050 pathway. One of the world-leading policies is the US’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which includes $369 billion (US dollars) of investment.

According to the Climate Action Tracker, ‘[…] thanks to the passage of the IRA in the United States, companies are announcing hundreds of clean energy manufacturing facilities, turbocharging battery and electric vehicle production and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.’

A continued investment will continue to ‘[turbocharge]’ advancements in technologies such as the eWolf. In turn, technology like this will help the sector to achieve its decarbonisation targets.

Decarbonising the Marine Sector with Polymeric Technology

In addition to pioneering technology like the eTug, polymeric systems also play a key role in the decarbonisation of this sector. Belzona’s circular economic business model is grounded in the practice of repairing and improving damaged assets, rather than decommissioning and replacing them. Not only does this allow the asset owner to make considerable financial savings, but it also mitigates the carbon footprint incurred during the process of replacing damaged assets. In turn, this supports a net zero by 2050 pathway, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Maritime Approvals

In addition, Belzona systems are manufactured according to the ISO 9001 quality management systems and are approved by classification societies from all around the world including: Lloyd’s Register, American Bureau of Shipping, Bureau Veritas, RINA Services, DNV, China Classification Society and the Korean Register of Shipping.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jack Prince

    One of our tugboat operators in NY reached out to me just before covid for help with damaged fenders. The project was dropped as were many others during the epidemic. This article will be a great way to start up the conversation. By any chance are there more photos of the application? Great story!

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