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The World’s Largest Superyacht Is Worth $600 Million. And It’s Going to Run on Clean Engine Technology.


Can “sustainable” and “superyacht” co-exist? The Somnio aims to do it with clean engine technology.

Luxury living is coming to the oceans aboard Somnio, the world’s largest and first residential superyacht. The 730-foot luxury megaliner will house 39 condos starting at $11.2 million. And it’s also aiming to bring another first to ocean living: sustainable clean engine technology.

The brainchild of Carl Le Souef, founder of skin-care company Private Formula International and the sustainable tech company Somnio Global, Somnio (from the Latin for “to dream”) is being developed by architectural and design studios Tillberg Design of Sweden and the UK’s Winch Design. Think five-star hotel with rotating views of the Antarctic, Mediterranean, and South Pacific.

The Somnio Superyacht

The yacht’s condominiums will be spaced across six decks, and include amenities such as personal kitchens, libraries, gyms, and alfresco dining. Shared amenities include a beach club, pools, a 10,000-bottle wine cellar and tasting room, restaurants, and a lounge under the ship’s bow with “spectacular views.”

Courtesy Luttenberger Design

“Somnio will be the only residential superyacht in the world and has been designed to exacting standards that are commensurate with a life of opportunity,” Somnio’s Captain Erik Bredhe said in a statement. “Owners will share a truly unique lifestyle at sea, with a hand-picked crew and a never-ending global itinerary of carefully selected destinations and experiences befitting a yacht of this nature.”

The invite-only apartments show will spread across six decks, ranging in size from about 2000 square feet to as large as 10,000 square feet, with the superyacht’s biggest apartment expected to take up nearly all of the top deck.

Somnio says it will pair the apartment owners with design companies to choose the interior arrangements–a process expected to take about three months. The designers will aim for the most environmentally friendly materials and products for the interior design, Somnio’s team said.

Environmental Sustainability on the High Seas

Like a growing number of five-star hotels and resorts on land, the ship aims to bridge sustainability and luxury.

“Environmental sustainability is a key focus for Somnio, which is being built with the latest clean engine technology and advanced onboard equipment to help scientists and marine experts conduct research into ocean environments,” the company said in a statement. “Internationally-recognised experts will join Somnio’s itinerary to update Owners on the latest global challenges and solutions on key environmental and philanthropic issues.”

Courtesy Winch Design

Cruise ships and yachts are big business—visiting out-of-the-way destinations like Antarctica and the Galápagos Islands. In 2018, the cruise industry transported more than 26 million people. But maritime travel is highly damaging to already fragile marine ecosystems. Carbon footprints on ships are triple that on land per passenger. And despite strict regulations around the world, many passenger ships violate pollution rules for fuel, sewage, and trash.

Clean Engine Technology

In 2009, the United Nations International Maritime Organization capped sulfur emissions from ships, dropping them from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent by 2020. The crude oil residue hurts marine ecosystems and is linked to 400,000 premature deaths every year.

One way ships are employing clean engine technology is through a process known as underbelly bubbles. This system reduces friction between the ship and the water. This can be done in the original ship design; another way is to stream bubbles out of tiny holes under the ship that serves as a sort of lubrication, aiding the ship in a decreased impact on the water. This technique can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5 percent. Another technique called exhaust scrubbing can reduce sulfur and other particulate emissions before they exit exhaust funnels.

Courtesy Luttenberger Design

Ships are also turning to hydrogen fuel, a technology still in its infancy, but it has shown promise in larger vessels. Other ships are exploring batteries similar to those in electric cars. The challenge there is the same as distance driving for electric vehicles—the need to recharge often.

Some ships are working with natural gas in a liquid form. But the most common “clean” engine technology right now is a switch to a marine gas more similar to diesel fuel. It’s more refined than standard oil options, which reduces pollution. In regulated Emission Control Areas, this is already the fuel of choice.

Somnio hasn’t yet revealed details about its clean engine technology, but it has options. And with the superyacht’s budget, it’s got room to explore novel technologies.

Superyacht’s Expeditions

The invite-only residence-at-sea will also aim to reduce its footprint with a focus on “slow-paced travel,” the liner said. This will keep it docked for extended periods, reducing fuel needs.

Courtesy Luttenberger Design

“Somnio will explore the four corners of the globe, from the Mediterranean, a week in New York, sailing the South Pacific to undertaking expeditions in Antarctica,” the company said.

“Owners will access unimaginable experiences whilst enjoying the true intimacy of private yacht ownership with added ability to share a unique life with like-minded owners and friends with whom to explore the world.”

Somnio is expected to set sail in 2024.


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