Hydrex, the Belgian underwater repair and maintenance specialist, has been awarded the prestigious Energy Globe Award for 2017 from the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

The award was presented to Hydrex CEO Boud van Rompay at the company’s Antwerp headquarters by Mrs Martina Madeo from the Austrian Embassy in Brussels in recognition of the company’s revolutionary propeller buffing technique.

Hydrex CEO Boud van Rompay receiving the Energy Globe Award for 2017 from the Austrian Embassy’s Mrs Martina Madeo
Hydrex CEO Boud van Rompay receiving the Energy Globe Award for 2017 from the Austrian Embassy’s Mrs Martina Madeo
On receiving the accolade, van Rompay said: “We are delighted to accept this award in recognition of the energy savings our propeller buffing concept can deliver to shipowners.

“The conventional method of cleaning propellers involves polishing with a grinding wheel. This not only risks altering the blade profile, resulting in a loss of efficiency and weakening the propeller, it can provoke environmental damage by causing metal particles to drop into the sediment, a significant problem in ports where such operations are frequently undertaken.”

According to van Rompay, the loss of efficiency, from the altered shape and the roughness of the ground blades, results in increased fuel consumption, by up to 10%, with the consequent higher fuel cost to the operator and a corresponding increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The Hydrex method employs much lighter, more frequent cleaning with a less-aggressive tool than a grinding wheel.

The Austrian Chamber of Commerce awarded Hydrex the prestigious Energy Globe Award on the basis that the technique can result in fuel savings of 5% or more.

“The optimum solution involves catching the propeller before it has a chance to build up a calcareous layer,” said van Rompay. “If done right and done regularly it can result in significant energy savings. No material is ground away, which is good for the propeller and the environment.”

He continued: “For a ship that has a medium level of fuel consumption, the savings far outweigh the cost of the propeller cleaning itself. Because the propeller is being cleaned regularly any loss of material and hence increased roughness is prevented entirely.”

The Energy Globe Award was first launched in 1999. It showcases worldwide projects that conserve and protect natural resources or that employ renewable energy. The goal is to present successful sustainable projects to a broad audience, demonstrating that good, feasible solutions already exist to many environmental problems. More than 2,000 projects and initiatives from a 178 countries were submitted for the 2017 awards.

The jury summed up Hydrex’s winning project thus: “Conventional propeller maintenance methods cause roughness which has several ecological and economical aspects. A rough propeller consumes more fuel and pollutes the sea when polished. This year's National Winner of the Energy Globe Award in Belgium developed a method which saves fuel and reduces water pollution.”