Did you always want a career in the marine industry?
When I was 19 years old I began my career as an assistant electrician on a new-build yacht at Jongert Shipyard in the Netherlands. Back then, Jongert was one of the leading yacht builders worldwide. My first job was pulling cables, then I became electrical system engineer and eventually production manager. After 16 years there I then founded Floattech from my own garage at home, and a few years after that I also founded ESTechnologies and developed one of the first lithium batteries for the marine market . ESTechnologies was then taken over by a large corporation and for various reasons I decided to leave. However,
I still needed another challenge and source of income, so I founded Fifi4Marine, a company specializing in the development of fire safety solutions for marine applications. And since then, I have been designing a unique lithium fire extinguisher system based on a biological and environmentally-friendly water-dry-foam solution that is totally safe for people to use.
As managing partner of your company, what are the best and worst aspects of your job?
As I am directly involved with the development of new technical solutions, managing my time to ensure other daily tasks are completed can be a challenge, so I have to delegate some of the work to colleagues. Fortunately, I share the responsibility with my business partner, Magnus Eriksson, co-owner of Fifi4Marine, who is based in Stockholm and is focused on the Scandinavian market. A plus point is that I get to work with some of the world’s experts in the field and it’s extremely satisfying to see how the combination of enthusiasm, and personal and technical development, comes together as we create the next big innovations. Seeing my team members with smiles on their faces when they arrive on a Monday morning and go home on a Friday, and their willingness to put in extra hours to get results, is a testament to their dedication.
What are the biggest challenges facing the marine industry?
Ensuring that regulations and safety rules are up-to-date and in line with the latest technology, which has undergone a rapid evolution in the past five years, is a challenge. There have been many developments in standalone hybrid and storage systems,
on both a large and small scale, which have made this a particularly difficult task. Fifi4Marine is a member of the JDP [Joint Development Project] initiated by DNV-GL. JDP members include end users, designers, certification bureaus, battery producers
and notifying bodies. The JDP combines the knowledge and experience of members to speed-up the fine tuning of regulations and ensure that the development of passive and active safety guidelines can keep pace with advances in technologies. Sometimes a red flag is needed as developments versus investments are not always in balance with the required safety levels.
How will the maritime industry have changed five years from now?
New regulations and more standardization of hybrid applications will see systems become more stable, as crew and end users become better educated and more comfortable in operating and servicing systems.
Is hybrid and electric propulsion the answer to developing a sustainable marine sector?
There are real energy-efficiency improvements in high dynamic applications that use short-term electrical storage. The impact of hybrid and electric propulsion technology on the environment is substantial, particularly in terms of fuel waste and output of exhaust gases and particulates. Energy storage is making all the difference for tugboats, ferries, fishing boats and inland water transport vessels, whose designs and power calculations are based on their maximum performance at peak power.
For organizations in the marine world that have not yet made the leap to sustainable propulsion systems, is now the time?
Most marine companies currently have an understanding of how they can update or balance the power demand of their vessels. Unfortunately, many still cannot afford to
do so, or their stakeholders are not willing to invest.
How will marine propulsion technology have changed by 2030?
I foresee that vessels designed to travel long distances will still be equipped with combustion engine-based generators. Vessels driven by heavy fuel, meanwhile, should be converted to operate on LNG or light/biofuels, or could even be retrofitted with highly efficient jet engines with start/stop mode, combined with energy-storage systems, which enable cruising in and out of ports without pollution. Vessels designed for traveling on shorter routes, such as ferries, inland/river cargo vessels, harbor tugboats and tourist boats, will all be fully electric, and when connected to the land power grid, will be used for balancing the grid.