Tech Feature


Propulsion Design ‘Upgrades’

Driven by the desire to cut fuel consumption and the mandate to reduce carbon footprint, vessel owners – and by proxy, marine propulsion gear designers and manufacturers – are working to develop marine propulsion innovations for introduction to the market in the coming two to three years. Here’s an update on some recently announced systems and products

By Maritime Reporter & Engineering News Staff

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ABB introduced what it said was a concept representing "revolutionary propulsion system breaking new ground for efficiency in the marine industry, inspired by the dynamic motions of a whale’s tail." The concept is called ABB Dynafin, and according to Janne Pohjalainen, Global Product Line Manager, ABB Dynafin, the new propulsion concept features a main electric motor that powers a large wheel rotating at a moderate 30-80 rounds per minute. Vertical blades, each controlled by an individual motor and control system, extend from the wheel. The combined motion of the wheel and blades generates propulsion and steering forces simultaneously, enabling ground-breaking operational efficiency and precision for ships, ABB said.

According to Pohjalainen, there are several key differentiators from other cycloidal propulsion units on the market. In speaking to him recently in Oslo at NorShipping 2023, he said the key difference will be that ABB Dynafin’s is designed to be “fully electrical, direct drive with individual blade control. The difference lies in the ability to individual blade control and active, optimized blade trajectories,” as well as the optimized shape of the individual blades themselves. Ultimately, it all comes down to gaining efficiency in the propulsion train, efficiency designed to cut fuel burn and emissions.

Image credit ABB
The difference between ABB’s Dynafin and other cycloidal propulsion systems on the market boils down to a few key factors: it’s all-electric, with each optimized blade individually, automatically controlled. Janne Pohjalainen, Global Product Line Manager, ABB Dynafin. ©ABB

According to ABB, an independent study of ABB Dynafin from OSK-ShipTech A/S of a passenger vessel design equipped with different propulsion solutions has verified savings in propulsion energy consumption of up to 22 percent compared to conventional shaftline configuration.

While the development holds big potential for ferries, yachts, small cruise ships, SOVs and small cable layers, the unit still has to undergo detail design, full-scale prototype and installation for a pilot project. Pohjalainen estimates a unit could be ready for commercial installation in 2025-26.

Cross section view of the VCR system. Image courtesy NYK

NYK VCR System

NYK will install a variable compression ratio system (VCR system) on two large LNG-fueled coal carriers to be built at Oshima Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. The vessels are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2025. This will be the first time for VCR systems to be installed on vessels, including existing vessels that use heavy fuel oil as their main fuel.

The VCR system can adjust the air compression ratio in the engine combustion chamber to an optimal balance according to engine power and LNG fuel properties. This optimal adjustment will improve fuel efficiency during operation by about 3% in LNG gas mode and about 6% in diesel oil mode.

The system is also expected to play an important role in reducing GHG emissions from existing ships and improving engine efficiency when decarbonized fuels are introduced.

Based on its technology and experience with large low-speed marine engines, Mitsui E&S DU Co., Ltd. developed the VCR system together with Winterthur Gas & Diesel Ltd.

HamiltonJet LTX36: Energy Efficiency at Low Speeds

HamiltonJet has unveiled a new range of high-efficiency waterjets, starting with the LTX36 model. Optimized for medium- and low-speed operation, New Zealand-based manufacturer said it has produced the first waterjet to rival the energy efficiency and bollard pull of the best propeller-based systems between zero and 30 knots.

Waterjets are among the most efficient propulsion options for going fast due to the absence of hull-appendages and their highly optimized pump geometry, but HamiltonJet CEO Ben Reed noted not everyone wants to go fast.

“Our customers’ needs are changing, and so is our environment. We understand that operators not only want to reduce their impact on the environment and lower their energy costs, but also maximize efficiency,” Reed said.

Some operators achieve this by operating at lower speeds, while others rely on the electrification of the driveline rather than continuing to rely on fossil fuels.

Image courtesy HamiltonJet

“LTX36 is a game changer,” Reed said. “It delivers incredible energy efficiency at low speeds. Customers can enjoy all the benefits they’ve come to expect from HamiltonJet waterjets – shallow draft, maneuverability, and safety of people and marine life in the water – allowing you to do more without compromises.”

LTX36 features ultra-efficient mixed-flow pump design, compact in-board footprint, narrow width for compact driveline spacing, Direct Drive capability and refined corrosion protection.

To produce the propulsion system, HamiltonJet said it looked to Mother nature for inspiration.

“The Moon jellyfish expends far less energy than any other swimming animal, evolving over a millennium to become a marvel of jet-propelled efficiency! Thankfully, we didn’t take a millennium to design the LTX36. Like its inspiration, the LTX36 uses a large nozzle, lower input energy, lower jet velocity, and lightweight structure to achieve its goals. So, whether you’re looking to optimize your entire enterprise or simply gain incremental benefits in maneuvering, loitering, and transit – efficiency of propulsion is key,” Reed said.

New IPS Professional Platform

Image courtesy Volvo Penta

Volvo Penta debuts the all-new Inboard Performance System (IPS) professional platform. Targeted for availability in 2025 and building upon the Volvo Penta IPS, this new platform will be for professional vessels and superyachts from 25 to 55+ meters with top speed from 12-40 knots. Designed to be larger and more versatile, it will be prepared for a range of energy sources, while also featuring a new level of premium support and features.

The Volvo Penta IPS will feature the largest and most powerful platform in the Volvo Penta IPS range – including a new, larger marine drive, Volvo Penta IPS 40. The new drive is designed with a dual power input concept, which manages the power to the water in the most efficient way, but also acts an important enabler to utilize different combinations of energy sources.

Starting series production in 2025, the new Volvo Penta IPS 40 drive will be powered by two Volvo Penta D13 engines, paired with a compact after treatment system to comply with the latest IMO Tier III standards. The platform is already prepared for a mix of power sources; from combustion engines running on renewable fuels to fully electric or hybrid solutions. The platform is installed as twin, triple or quad, meaning each vessel will have from 4 to 8 power sources.

July 2023