Carnival Rolling Out Air Lubrication Systems Across Cruise Brands

Carnival Corporation's goal to become net carbon-zero continues with the installation of Air Lubrication systems onboard its cruise ships.

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To reach the goals set out for a net-carbon zero fleet in 2050, Carnival Corporation has been rolling out several initiatives that will make its fleet more environmentally friendly. The cruise company announced another new system today, innovative air lubrication systems. 

Four cruise ships already have the technology, and Carnival Corporation is currently underway with installation on five more, with plans for ten more vessels to be outfitted soon. 

Enhanced Air Lubrication Systems Will Reduce Fuel Consumption

Air Lubrication Systems (ALS) is a technology that has been around for quite some time now and is already operational on several cruise ships worldwide. The system generates a cushion of air bubbles under the hull, reducing the drag through the water by approximately 5% and reducing the fuel needed to power a cruise ship. 

The system was first installed on AIDAprima, in 2016 and proved successful enough for Carnival Corporation to decide to install it on more vessels. The system is now operational on four ships sailing for AIDA and Princess.

AIDAprima Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: AIDA Cruises

Currently, five cruise ships are being converted to the Silverstream® System ALS, including two cruise ships sailing for Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises. In the near future, Carnival Corporation will upgrade ten more vessels.

The biggest cruise company worldwide, Carnival Corporation, has pledged to become a net-zero carbon company by 2050. To achieve this goal, the company has been making huge investments:

Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation: “The installation of air lubrication technology is another example of our ongoing efforts to drive energy efficiency and reduce fuel consumption and emissions throughout our fleet,”

“We look forward to expanding the ALS program and furthering our long-term sustainability strategy to continually invest in a broad range of energy reduction initiatives, which has included over $350 million invested in energy efficiency improvements since 2016.”

How Does an Air Lubrication System Work?

The system installed on the Carnival Corporation cruise ships is a further development of a system that has been in place in the cargo-shipping industry for several years. The goal is to reduce the drag created by the hull as it moves through the ocean.

Princess Cruise Ship Funnel
Photo Credit: Enrico Powell / Shutterstock

The system works by trapping a layer of air bubbles under the hull; the air is generated by a blower or other dedicated system, which ensures a constant stream at various points of the hull. 

As drag creates resistance through the water, an engine would need to provide more power to propel a ship forward. The air bubbles work as a lubricant, removing up to 5% of drag and resulting in 10-15% of CO2 emission reduction. 

Environmental Goals

While the cruise industry has received a fair amount of criticism for the damage it does to the environment, the innovations it has made over the last decade or so are significant. Carnival Corporation’s carbon emissions peaked in 2011, and since then, they have decreased each year, despite growing significantly.

Initiatives include Air Lubrication Systems, but also the use of scrubbers that remove emissions from exhaust gasses, the use of energy-saving technologies, and the introduction of LNG-powered cruise ships

All this should lead to the company reducing carbon emission intensity by 20% from its 2019 baseline by 2030 and being carbon neutral by 2050, a goal it has set itself together with the entire cruise industry. 

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