In 2017 we, Jospa, decided to concentrate our resources on the unique zero fuel, zero emissions Jospa Tug. This is seen as ‘nearer market’ than Wave Energy, that is a longer, more expensive development than the Jospa wave powered tug.
We have a number of strong patents in wave energy conversion such as our “Eite” and our efficient Power Take Off module that remain ‘parked’ to allow us to focus on the nearer-market Jospa Tug.
1. Where do you expect the JOSPA TUG to be used first?
The likely first role is tackling the Oceans’ plastic waste gyres: we believe there is no better solution visible or on the horizon PARTICULARLY when combined with our elegant new WASTEBEACH plastics collection solution. With amazing
SERENDIPITY, the Jospa Tug and the BEACH have arrived almost precisely when the world has become aware of these massive pollution problems. Emerging Jospa Tug applications are:
•(As above), ocean garbage clean-up where some hundreds of JOSPA TUGs with Jospa
WASTEBEACH plastic collections systems will continuously sweep
thousands of square km rubbish gyres clean of plastics.
•Towing of water bags or even icebergs from areas of plenty of water – Alaska
and the Southern Seas of Antarctica – to areas of drought – southern California,
the Arabian/Persian Gulf, and parts of Africa.
Using its no fossil fuel emissions advantage with minimal or no crewing costs and
low first cost, a more conventional early application is carrying low-value bulk
materials such as sand and gravel to the sites of major projects.
Also, bulk ores being moved from e.g. Brazil to China will be a target. In this case,
logistics will need to be optimised by adjusting shipping frequency and stock levels to
achieve minimum cost.
•Effective sea anchors: a lightweight version of the Jospa Tug to keep stricken vessels
from running onto rocks, thereby avoiding potentially massive pollution. Such Jospa Tugs
might be held at coastguard facilities and dropped off where needed by helicopter or
carried on board as standard safety equipment. Similarly, a Jospa Tug could hold the
pull on a positional drilling rig or ship to greatly reduce fuel used.
• Slow trawling for fish, as controls on fishing methods tightens.
• Ocean seaweed harvesting
Experience gained over the first years with the JOSPA TUG may inspire modified
designs and new applications, roles we haven’t imagined so far.
2. Are these very limited applications, so it will be difficult for the JOSPA TUG to be commercial?
No. The shipping market is vast, and any one application or niche tends to be major. Success in even one of them would have major value. And the need is growing. Garbage/pollution actions are at very early days, ocean clean-up is only beginning. Water transport is likewise, trials have already been conducted based on using expensive conventional tugs, and climate change and population growth will help drive
the need. Massive ocean movement of sands gravels and ores is growing as availability of nearby deposits declines.
The extraordinarily low costs may open and re-open applications that could not considered before now.
3. What stage of readiness is the JOSPA TUG at?
The JOSPA TUG is at ‘the end of the beginning’, where the tug action has been observed, the theory has been investigated through modelling simulations to validate it, and proof-of-concept tests were highly successful. Our consultants DOC reported:
“The encouraging towing force and vessel motion prototype results have shown that the mechanism is valid and has the potential to generate useful performance in a variety of sea states”.
There are a series of well-known steps to bring it to commercialisation (described as “Technical Readiness Levels” or TRLs). The Tug is at TRL 3, we expect to achieve TRL 5 this year and TRL 7 next year – pre-commercialisation. Funding support is expected from a variety of EU programmes as well as support from the Irish government and environmental foundations in the case of our plastic waste solutions. We have been accepted into the MEA – Marine Energy Alliance – programme that covers technical and commercial issues.
4. What is the roadmap to commercial deployment?
To date. Jospa has tested the first model Mk I at 15m long in the LIR tanks at the National Ocean Testing Facility Centre in Cork, Ireland. Its Director Dr J. Murphy states “This Technology has already been tested in the LIR NOTF and the positive results from these tests justify its progression to larger scale deployment in open ocean sites”.
From now. Based on those tests a Mk II has been redesigned and is currently being built at the Jospa workshop in Cork to be further tested. This will characterise speeds and pulling forces for a variety of seas and conditions, tests for steering, survivability, and various refinements are being planned.
Commencing Autumn 2019 and gathering momentum into 2020. The learning process
will lead to further design modifications and ideas to production of a 1⁄4 scale model ca 40-50m long for ocean trials. This model will be exposed to the full forces of major storms. Development continues and ancillary systems are added and tested.
From here we are at the Commercial Phase when we consider specific applications and set up trials to prove and optimise them, probably with various interested parties.
5. Are any breakthroughs required to make it work
We believe not. Jospa has some novel items to incorporate, not yet disclosed, that will improve the JOSPA TUG, but all are essentially applications rather than novel untested theories. Jospa seeks the solid marine engineering that a suitable trade partner can
bring. All the ancillary technologies required exist already or are well advanced and available through partnering.
6. What is the function of the ‘pilot tug’ in front of the JOSPA TUG
The function of the pilot is to apply a minimum pull to the Tug to straighten out its spine and align the fins. This slight tension must always be maintained so that the Tug doesn’t lose synchronisation and lose way (i.e. stop).
7. Describe the Pilot Tug its advantages and disadvantages
At the very outset the pilot may be a standard type of diesel tug – however there is such progress being made in autonomous (remote-controlled) we may well be able to go straight to the new technology – certainly a year or two will see us with an all-electric pilot tug, perhaps purpose-built, but more likely a standard design adapted in a partnership. Power will come from PV panels running along the spine of the JT combined with a battery unit. The tug’s propellers will be electrically driven.
Thus, the Jospa Tug will be fully zero polluting and use zero fossil-fuel energy.
Further versions of the pilot may prove desirable, e.g. one that couples intimately with
the JOSPA TUG so that they are one integrated unit.
8. If the pilot stops for any reason will the JOSPA TUG ram it?
The speeds are low and as answered in 6 above the JOSPA TUG will ‘shut down’ i.e. not power ahead when the pilot’s tension ceases. Likewise, the large towed object astern of it will just lose way. Any bumping would be minimal.
9. Presumably it can only go one direction, can it change course?
Unlike wind-powered vessels it can go forwards with the waves BUT it also travels INTO the waves, i.e. in the reverse direction, at similar speed. This valuable feature is implemented by turning the tug through 180o and letting the pilot pull it again. The
JOSPA TUG can travel forwards and ‘backwards’ within at least 30o off wave direction without much loss of power.
10. What are its advantages/disadvantages compared to other renewable energies, is it as limited in scope as sailing vessels?
Compared with e.g. sailing its advantages are its full 2-way directional ability and its massive pulling power. Its speed can’t match the max speed of a sailing ship but would be more consistent and predictable. Above all it’s far more survivable than any sail ship.
11. Would ocean currents not overcome the speed of the JT?
Ocean currents are specific and well known (they are not nearly as strong as coastal currents). The Jospa Tug is purposed for ocean use. Managing the voyages of the JT to maximise the benefits of ocean currents and minimise unwanted effects will be useful.
12. What is the IP situation on the Jospa Tug? Is there more IP to come?
The original concept is patented-filed. Development has suggested improvements and further patent application has been made. The WASTEBEACH method of collecting plastic waste very efficiently has also been filed for patent. It is likely that more IP will be
developed but we don’t expect any breakthroughs as is the Tug itself.
Where detailed technical questions or discussions arise Jospa may request information about the enquirer and/or ask that an “NDA” (non-disclosure agreement) be signed.
13. What is an autonomous operation?
We have all heard of ’driverless cars’. For vessels the term ‘Autonomous Operation’ is used. Modern technology – GPS for accurate position, the Internet via satellites for two- way communication, radar, visible spectrum and infrared cameras, intelligent sensors – enable autonomous operation. Such technology is available now from several leading companies and has become economically justifiable. It has much to recommend it
instead of expensive manned operation in long tedious and sometimes arduous conditions.
A control center would control a myriad of tugs regionally or world-wide, with sections
monitoring wave height and direction forecasts, winds, storms, then plotting best courses as well as maintenance and operational parameters – forces, speeds and directions, battery condition etc. These technologies are well -established and very good value.
When the Tug is achieving the carrying of significant volumes of ocean trade it is likely there would be Tug staging facilities some kms offshore of major ports where the loads would be handed over to conventional harbour tugs for berthing.
14. How safe is it to operate?
The JOSPA TUG is inherently very safe as will be understood from the previous answers. The slow speeds are an advantage in this case. At the very worst it could do no more than lose way and drift, while its weight will be comparatively very low, it will be flexible and doesn’t hold any spillable pollutants as e.g. fuel oil. It would not be a threatening drifting object.
It presents no threats to marine or bird life.
15. How will it deal with storms, debris at sea, or fish
This has been partly answered in the previous question. This Tug’s survivability will be surpassed only by that of a submerged submarine as it operates largely submerged. Its fins are controlled by latching/de-latching so that they become completely passive at a selectable level and thereby offer minimal resistance to storm forces- it doesn’t fight the storm. The Tug may also be equipped with a buoyancy control for further protection.
Where rubber and elastomer are used its flexibility makes it unlikely that attachment of barnacles etc. will be a significant problem.
16. How about loss of a tow line
The loss of a tow line is no different than it would be for any vessel, but the Tug may lend itself better to carry a redundant spare tow line or a safety rope as per land vehicles that tow trailers.
Many uses of the Jospa Tug will involve multiple units e.g. WASTEBEACHES in arrays that could reach large numbers for the waste gyres, where there would be immediate continuous service-boat support as well as waste transport vessels regularly coming and going.
17. How much will it cost to build?
The spine(s), which are the structures that carry the fins, will be like a special hose made of (recyclable) thermoplastic elastomer, steel reinforced, to give high tensile strength coupled with flexibility to largely conform to waves. Selected strands of steel reinforcements from the spines will carry the attachment of the fins.
For the plastic waste application, the fins in the case of will be tyre-like rubber.
It is too early to attempt reliable estimates but the simple nature of its construction with its multiple identical fins, and the absence of an engine, make it amenable to mass
production and thereby be extremely competitive.
18. Will there be different versions of the JOSPA TUG
Very likely YES – its length will vary according to the intended location and application. A version to pull threatened wrecks away from rocks will be of a portable lightweight design. There are several configurations included in the IP, including a multi – spine configuration with staggered layout of fins. An important variation is with fins on vertical axes (pointing downwards) to be used particularly with WASTEBEACH, and others.
19. What are the pros and cons of the JOSPA TUG?
Pros – minimal running expenses – no fuel costs, a small staff can remotely control many tugs – zero emissions, high bollard pull (towing power), very survivable, expected to be
very competitive to build.
Con – slow speed, need for conventional tug when in coastal waters greater than for conventional vessels.
20. What can I watch about the JOSPA TUG?
Please ensure your loudspeakers are on when watching the videos below:
Background to Tug: Jospa Tug as MP4 https://vimeo.com/267885302/148c7eda9b
Tank testing/proof of concept: https://vimeo.com/319805752/cf2c20eb4e