Cadets with a great green idea

What started out as a school project has now led to a start-up company and busy times for two ambitious Maersk cadets. Their idea aims to reduce pollution and optimise energy consumption on board vessels.

After spending hours sailing around the world in engine rooms on board Maersk Line vessels, it came abundantly clear to Maersk cadets Rasmus Tarp and Uffe Wilken how crucial it is to use energy on board as efficiently as possible and how vital it is to control engines emissions.

Back at the Svendborg International Maritime Academy in Denmark, SIMAC, they signed up for an Innovation & Entrepreneurship class. Here they joined forces with fellow student Casper Ryborg ­Simmelsgaard, who had earned his sea legs with the Danish shipping line DFDS.

Together, the three young cadets came up with an idea that has won several prizes and formed the foundation for their new company, “Gas2Green”.

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Rasmus Tarp, Uffe Wilken and Casper Ryborg Simmelsgaard in SIMAC’s workshop. They will be testing their idea on a real engine here before building the prototype.

Constantly cutting emissions

Maersk Line is currently testing scrubber systems as one way of cleaning the exhaust gas from vessels. Therefore Palle Laursen, Head of Ship Management in Maersk Line, finds the idea on how to clean scrubber water while optimising energy consumption on board very interesting:

“Maersk Line is constantly working to reduce its emissions and if these young cadets succeed in building this prototype, it could impact our industry and be interesting for Maersk Line,” says Laursen.

“Thanks to innovative ideas, we have been able to reduce our costs significantly, especially those associated with fuel. In order to keep Maersk Line in its market leading position, we need to keep on challenging ourselves so that we can continue to facilitate global trade at the lowest cost,” says Laursen.

“We see a huge potential in this. If we can develop a prototype and get it installed on vessels, it will result in big bunker savings and reduce emissions,” says Maersk cadet Uffe Wilken.

Simple but efficient

Their idea is to add an electrolytic cell to an existing scrubber system (scrubbers can be used to clean exhaust gas with the help of water).

In the electrolytic cell, it is possible to split the polluted scrubber water down to its main elements, i.e. hydrogen and oxygen. By doing so, the hydrogen can be used as energy on board the ship, saving bunker costs in the process and ensuring that the sulphur can be collected for disposal.

“The idea seems pretty simple and we often wonder why no one came up with it before”, says Wilken.

“But I guess that’s what they said when the wheel was invented”, he says with a grin.

Prize-winning idea

 The idea has not only been awarded the Danish Entrepreneur Prize, but also the European Entrepreneur Prize and the Hyundai Brilliant Young Entrepreneur Prize. The three young colleagues were happy to win the prizes, but not surprised. They knew they had a strong idea, and the business plan to back it up.

“We hope that one day our invention will be found on vessels throughout the world,” says Maersk cadet Rasmus Tarp.

Funding needed

As full-time students with a company to run, the three entrepreneurs have their hands full. They go to school during the day and run their company at night.

“We put in many hours on this project, but are happy to do so, as it means everything to us,” says Rasmus Tarp.

They are now working hard to secure funding. Money is needed for an independent “proof of concept” that will show potential customers that their idea works. After that, they need to build a prototype that can be tested on vessels.

“It will fly – one way or another,” says Uffe Wilken. “Everybody keeps telling us that the idea has huge potential. Now we just need to make it happen!”