Norwegian Ferry Propulsion Retrofit a Money Saver

By George Backwell at October 05, 2013 03:47
Filed Under: Propulsion systems

Rolls-Royce has won a contract to supply its Promas Lite propulsion system to the Norwegian ship owner Hurtigruten for their cruise ship MV Richard With. Propeller efficiency improvement for the ship is estimated to be between 11-14 per cent at 15 knots.

MV Richard With: Photo courtesy the owners

Promas Lite is a version of the Rolls-Royce Promas integrated propeller and rudder system which is designed specifically for vessels already in service. It is well known that with advances in propeller design, propeller blade changes, or the fitting of new propellers, can have a significant effect on propulsive efficiency, fuel consumption and, therefore, emissions.

With Promas Lite these improvements can be maximised, as the propeller and rudder are treated as a complete system, and further increases in efficiency can be achieved with improved manoeuvrability for only a small increase in cost. First, extensive modelling work is carried out at the Rolls-Royce Hydrodynamic Research Centre in Sweden to refine the design in order to deliver optimum fuel economy and performance.

In the retrofit process the existing rudder is retained, but is fitted with a prefabricated bulb, while the new propeller is equipped with a special hubcap and new blades. The propeller is designed to utilise the fitted bulb and is matched to the vessel's current operational profile, which may have changed since the vessel was built. Rolls Royce say that installation of a complete Promas Lite upgrade kit can normally be undertaken within a normal 7-10 day docking period.

Propulsion system 'Promas Lite': Image courtesy of Rolls-Royce

The MV Richard With was originally equipped with twin Rolls-Royce controllable pitch propellers (CPP).  With the installation of Promas Lite propulsion, Hurtigruten will receive up to 80 per cent of their total investment from the Norwegian Government's NOx fund, which encourages ship operators to invest in technology that will reduce NOx emissions.

Rolls-Royce have documented a case study of a PromasLite propulsion system that was installed in the DFDS cruise ferry Pearl Seaways operating on the Copenhagen-Oslo route. A twin 4.8m Promas Lite propulsion system was installed during the vessel's regular dry-docking at Fayard shipyard in Denmark in early 2011. The existing CPP blades, originally designed for a higher operational speed, were replaced by blades specifically designed to maximise the efficiency of the Promas Lite system.

Subsequently vessel performance was then monitored over a period of normal operations. The DFDS Technical team calculated the efficiency improvement to be up to 12.5 per cent, representing a payback time of about 1.5 years.



Fleet in service – exploit its potential, control costs: Area of adverse weather increases fuel costs

By Peter Pospiech at October 03, 2013 04:13
Filed Under: drive systems, Fuels & Lubes, General

Fuel consumption and time are an important factor when planning ship routes. But more and more also actual weather conditions are considered.

Wind and waves have a significant impact on operating costs of fleets in service. Unfavourable conditions cause higher fuel consumption, delays and often also damages on ships or cargo. Even if the vessels captain cannot change the weather he has avoidance strategies on hand to bypass the area of adverse weather or can adapt the vessels speed to reach the expected danger area before or after the bad weather phase. 

Storm and high waves increases time and fuel costs - but they can be purposefully bypassed

The magic word is “Weather Routing”. Intelligent weather-routing can remarkably reduce these additional costs with less expense. Modern weather-routing software uses weather-, waves- and disturbances information as well as vessel hydrodynamic details for ships specific routing recommendations at minimal drive power and optimized speed. In this way unfavourable weather can be bypassed as far as possible and hence significantly reduce risk of cost. Based on real-time transmissions of the actual weather data short-term route changes are possible. An actual study for a shipping company documents 80% less delays and 87% less claims for cargo damages. But there are differences: Simple software variants convert pure weather forecasts into routing recommendations. On the other hand consider decision support systems, besides the available environmental data, also vessel details and cargo conditions. Their recommendations are much more precise and therefore also routes can be included which otherwise would be considered as unsecure. 

For these very complex calculations ship owners can rely on a respective software. This software analyses regional weather forecasts as well as maritime data and produces an overall picture of the provided route.


image: PPM archive

New 300hp (224 kW) Diesel Outboard

At the recent international defence exhibition and conference (DSEi) in London, a new lightweight diesel engine was on display. The British company Cox Powertrain Limited ( is developing, together with Ricardo UK a modular, power dense engine with target output of 300 hp (224 kW) @ 4,000rpm from a 3.6 liter supercharged 2-stroke diesel engine, weighing 300 lbs (136 kg). Such a high power to weight ratio opens up a variety of application opportunities such as marine outboard motor and powered flight e.g. UAVs.


Caption: Impression of the Cox 300hp Diesel Outboard.
Image Credit: Cox Powertrain Ltd.

 The four cylinder, eight piston engine module features an unusual opposed piston (OP) configuration, whereby twin pistons reciprocate with a stroke of 130mm in opposing directions in a common cylinder of bore 98mm. This generates the high compression required for combustion of the diesel fuel without the need for massive cylinder heads. The fuel system is a Common Rail type with direct injection. While OP has been around since the early 20 century the Cox engine uses a Scotch Yoke* cranking arrangement to change the reciprocating piston movements into rotation, thereby substantially saving weight and the number of moving parts.

 As the 2015 deadline for the withdrawal of gasoline from NATO fleets approaches, due to considerations of on board fuel safety and logistics, the search for alternative high power/density engines that run on standard fleet fuels such as F76/JP8 aviation kerosene is increasing. To this end, the UK MOD has invested in the Cox engine project as a viable replacement for gasoline outboard motors.

 The modular construction of the engine allows two modules to be siamesed to produce an engine unit of 700+hp. Some variants may be able to deliver up to 900 hp.

 This is an ongoing development and Beta testing will commence in 2014 with an estimated launch date for the outboard motor version in 2016.


Caption: Cox 3.6 liter, four cylinder, OP single engine module with target out put of 300 hp (224 kW) @ 4,000 rpm. The supercharged diesel engine is expected to have a weight of only 300 lbs (135 kg). Image Credit: Cox Powertrain Ltd.

*An animation of the Scotch Yoke can be seen at: 


Fleet in service – exploit its potential, control costs: Fuel Saving with Trim Optimization

By Peter Pospiech at September 30, 2013 06:30
Filed Under: Company News, drive systems, Fuels & Lubes, General

The maritime-shipping industry has also been forced to contend with the key issues of energy efficiency and sustainability. Optimizing the trim of a ship is a good way to achieve lasting reductions in fuel consumption. In fact, trim optimization has been an object of investigation since the 1990s. Back then, forward-thinking German shipowners were using models in towing tests designed to determine the trim that produced the lowest resistance as a ship moved through water. These tests showed that in many cases a slightly lower forward draft yielded the ideal trim. Based on these findings, INTERSCHALT added a ballast optimization tool to its MACS3 loading computer system. However, over the next 15 years interest in this special module declined because the costs for conducting the associated towing tests proved to be too high.

Significant fuel saving by trim optimization

"Determining the optimum trim is one thing; being able to practically apply these findings in actual ship operation is another", says INTERSCHALT. After a ship has been loaded, the crew usually has only one method left to alter its trim: by using the ballast tanks. But here the following questions arise: How do the tanks need to be filled to achieve the ideal trim? How will this affect stability and strength? The new TROP trim optimization module, now fully integrated into INTERSCHALT's proven MACS3 loading computer system, answers these critical questions. The user can now even automatically determine the best ballast distribution necessary to save the greatest amount of fuel. In making its calculations, TROP also takes into account all safety regulations pertaining to stability and strength. 

So how much fuel can be saved? The answer to this question does depend on many factors, such as the size of the ship, its speed, weather condition, how calm or rough the sea is, and so on. Here's an example for a medium-sized container ship with approximately 7,500 TEU of capacity: At a speed of 20 knots, it's realistic to expect savings of 2 to 3%. At a bunker price of around $600 per ton of fuel, this yields savings of from $1,500 to $2,200 per day. 

Based on actual investigations the fuel savings on a container vessel with 8700 TEU could indeed amount up to ten percent per year. If the specific fuel consumption is reduced by only one percent cost reductions can be up to $ 270 000 per year.


Source / Image: GL, Hapag Lloyd

Azipod Propulsion System of Choice for Two New Icebreakers

By George Backwell at September 27, 2013 22:00
Filed Under: Azimuth pod, Icebreakers

Propulsion pod pioneers ABB have won an order worth around US$25-million to supply its marine propulsion system, Azipod, and complete electric power plants for two new rescue and salvage icebreakers that are under construction at Nordic Yards GmbH in Germany.

Azipod Propelled Russian Icebreaker: Image courtesy of ABB

The original idea for the Azipod (Azimuthing Podded Drive) system was conceived a couple of decades ago in response to the Finnish Maritime Administration’s quest  for ways to improve its icebreaker operations. Icebreakers must be capable of manoeuvring in such a way that they can break out of an ice channel in any direction in order to assist merchant ships using that channel. Investigations showed that a propulsion motor which could direct the thrust in any direction would be the ideal solution to this problem. The Azipod drive system that was subsequently developed provided the answer with its podded electric propulsion unit, freely steerable through 360 degrees, and the first pulling Azipod units were installed on board the icebreaker Röthelstein in 1995.

Features of the Azipod propulsion system are by now well-known, with widespread application in cruise ships, but to recap: The Azipod unit incorporates an electric (single or double-wound) AC motor that drives a fixed-pitch propeller directly via an extremely short shaft. The electric motor, located inside the pod is controlled by a frequency converter. Full torque is available from zero to nominal speed in either direction.

Icebreaker Azipod Units: Photo courtesy of ABB

The new breed of Azipod propulsion icebreakers, ordered by Russia’s State Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (SMRCC) will receive Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS) Icebreaker 6 class notations. Their task will be to perform offshore oil and gas field rescue and oil-spill response operations in Arctic waters covered at times by ice of up to one meter thick. ABB’s scope of supply will include 3.5 megawatt (MW) Azipod VI units, main switchboards, drives, bow thrusters and generators. Total power per vessel will be 7 MW.

ABB say they have made a significant investment in Russia to support the country’s fast-growing offshore oil-and-gas activities in the Arctic. They now have 27 offices in Russia and five production sites, overseen by the head office in Moscow. The company has also reinforced its presence in Russia by establishing dedicated marine centres in Moscow and St. Petersburg, backed by specialised marine service teams in Murmansk and Sakhalin.

“Since ABB’s first delivery of Azipod technology for ice breakers in the 1990s, 60 units have been delivered for more than 30 ice-going vessels,” said Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB's Process Automation division. “On average, two out of three high ice-class vessels built today are fitted with ABB systems. This order sustains our reputation as a long-term and reliable partner in the Russian market.”



Damen offers ‘Quick Docking/Fuel Saving Package’

By Peter Pospiech at September 26, 2013 07:10
Filed Under: Company News, General, Shipyards

Damen Shiprepair & Conversion has developed a new innovative product, the ‘Quick Docking/Fuel Saving’ package. This offers owners a fast and low-cost additional docking with the sole aim of reducing fuel consumption in between the five-year statutory survey period.

The first vessel booked under the new concept has docked at Damen Shiprepair Brest (France). It is the capesize bulker ‘Castillo De Catoira’ operated by Spanish company Empresa Naviera Elcano. Damen expects to bring more of its vessels to its ship repair yards.

Jos Goris, Managing Director of Damen Shiprepair Brest and initiator of the concept, comments: “We know that hull resistance builds up during years of service and this can have a significant impact on performance and consequently, fuel costs. By introducing this product, we are thinking along with our customers and know that fuel costs are a major consideration for shipowners and charterers, especially in this economic climate.”

Mr Kees Jan Groen, Commercial Director Damen Shiprepair & Conversion adds: “Charterers are focusing more and more on vessel performance and its impact on fuel consumption. Owners can add value by ensuring the vessel is performing in accordance with the chartering agreement and Damen can add value and help our clients perform better.”

Quick Docking characteristics

Under the package, anti-fouling and fresh coatings are applied to improve hull performance, propellers are given a super high polish and the yard fine-tunes the main engine. “Inside and out, everything is optimized for efficient fuel consumption. By improving the engine and propulsion line and applying coatings, the vessel’s performance is improved considerably, said Mr. Goris.”

Damen expects the fuel saving docking – which can take as little as a few days – to pay for itself within six to eight months depending on the type and size of the vessel. The package is provided on a lump sum basis. 

The ‘Quick Docking/ Fuel Saving’ package can be executed at any of Damen Shiprepair & Conversion yards, which boasts 40 dry docks throughout Northwest Europe. “We aim to provide new and innovative services for shipowners and managers which can help them add value for their clients,” says Mr Goris.


Image / source: Damen Shipyard

Fleet in Service – exploit its potential, control costs: “Shark”-Tech for stressed hulls

By Peter Pospiech at September 23, 2013 05:49
Filed Under: drive systems

Reduction of water resistance reduces fuel consumption

Energy efficient shipping operation means also: Protection coating for hulls. The chemical industry, here particularly the manufacturer of paints and lacquers, but also classification societies, universities, environmental organizations and not to forget also the shipping companies, during the last years focused pretty strong on these factual circumstances. The nature was a role model: the shark and its skin structure. This super-fast hunter has an almost perfect surface structure: if one looks through a microscope its skin looks like imbricated denticle, which are arranged in such a way, that foreign substances, like e.g. barnacles do not have a chance to inhere. Chemical companies, like e.g. Bodo Möller Chemie, Hempels Paint or Wilckens Paint, have now been crowned with success: they developed high-performance protection coatings and sell them with success.  

Fuel-eater algae and barnacle fouling on a hull

Fouling on hulls and propellers can increase the water resistance monthly by 1% and more – with negative results of fuel consumption. Reduction of water resistance by smoothed anti-fouling-coatings or the regular cleaning of hull and propeller ensure fuel savings by appr. 2 – 5%.
Modern anti-fouling-coatings consist out of biocide systems or not active, extremely smooth non-stick systems. Which coatings might be used depends on the operation profile of the ship, e.g. routes, speed, laytime, etc, and also regularities for this particular anti-fouling-coating. To reduce dock-times, the coating can be done during classification renewing. After applying a roughness measure is highly recommended. The roughness of a human hair thickness increases the fuel consumption by around 1%. A coating alternative is the regular cleaning of hull and propeller – but this depends on the availability of docks, divers, cleaning robots as well as port regularities.

Source / Image: GL, PPM News Service


Honda Marine’s New Outboard Pair to Debut in Europe 2014

By George Backwell at September 21, 2013 00:18
Filed Under: Outboard motors

Two new 4-cylinder outboard engines from Honda Marine soon to be introduced to the recreational boat market share the same specs, but the power rating of one is 20% more than the other, how come? Well, the more powerful of these two hi-tech engines, the BF100, which produces 74 kW, comes with Honda’s patent VTEC ™ feature whilst the lookalike BF80 does not, and that penalises it 15 kW at full throttle.

The new outboard engines: Image courtesy of Honda Marine

In a nutshell VTEC ™  (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control), cleverly dubbed by Honda ‘replacement for displacement’ (a standard in the Honda automobile sector) varies the lift and duration of the intake valves by using two cam lobe profiles to operate the intake valves as shown in the sketch below:

VTEC ™ image courtesy of Honda Marine

  • The low-lift, short duration cam lobes (shown in red) provide strong torque at low rpm.
  • At higher rpm, a synchronising piston engages the third rocker arm on a high-lift cam (in blue).  All three rocker arms are locked together. The intake valves are open for a longer period of time to produce more power.
  • This results in a superior combination of power, torque and fuel efficiency

Otherwise both these SOHC-4 cylinder, 16 valve newcomers to the Honda Marine outboard range share a compact, light weight design as follows:

Displacement: 1496 cc
Rated Power: BF80/58.8 kW, BF100/73.6kW 
Full Throttle RPM range: BF80/5000 - 6000, BF100/5500 - 6300                           
Cooling system: water-cooled with thermostat
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI (Programmed Fuel Injection)
Ignition system: electronic PGM-IG
Starting system: electric start
Exhaust system: propeller boss
Gear ratio: 2.33

The engines come from the manufacturers with a slew of enhancements including Honda’s exclusive BLAST™ (Boosted Low Speed Torque) technology which adjusts air/fuel ratio and ignition-timing to boost engine horsepower and torque to provide rapid acceleration. The result, they say, is strong hole-shot performance to get the hull up on the plane more quickly. From fast to slow, fishermen will appreciate the trolling control feature which gives precise slow speed with automatic adjustments in 50 rpm increments.

These new outboards are designed to exceeds all European RCD environmental requirements, and also have Honda's proprietary Lean Burn Control technology, embodied in their proprietary ECOmo ™ (Economy Controlled Motor) which uses sensors to monitor air/fuel ratio in cruising mode, adjusting it to achieve optimum fuel economy. This, in combination with with Honda's PGM-Fi™ (Programmed Fuel Injection) technology gives best fuel efficiency and and hence low emissions.

NMEA 2000 ® connectivity
Both outboards are fully compliant with NMEA 2000® allowing simplified connectivity to a range of NMEA 2000® devices, as well as the optional new Honda digital multi-function gauges which are designed to provide display information on key functions: engine rpm, trim angle, maintenance reminders, engine temperature, battery charge levels, oil pressure and engine management. These new gauges also feature Honda's unique 'Eco Light' which informs the boat operator when the engine is in ECOmo / lean burn mode, and therefore at its most fuel efficient.  

Honda say they plan to make the new models available across Honda's European network of Authorised Marine Dealers from early 2014, with pricing to be confirmed.



Natural Gas Use is on the rise for European Inland Waterway Shipping

By Peter Pospiech at September 19, 2013 04:28
Filed Under: Company News, drive systems, Fuels & Lubes, LNG fuel, Shipyards

On third of September the second inland navigation tanker, which is also powered by natural gas, has been christened by the President of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine, Ms Belliard, in Rotterdam. The launch of the GreenRhine tanker took place at the Port of Rotterdam in the presence of representatives from the Dutch and European inland navigation sectors, local and regional authorities, suppliers, Interstream Barging (from whom Shell has chartered the ship) and Peters Shipyards, the company that built the ship.

The sister ship GREENSTREAM is absolutely equivalent to the newbuild GREEN RHINE

The GreenRhine is the second of two gas-electrically inland navigation tankers that Shell is chartering for the transport of mineral products on the Rhine. The GreenRhine is absolutely equal to the first natural gas powered vessel Greenstream. They feature many innovations in the fields of safety and energy efficiency. For example, rather than a single large engine like traditional inland navigation vessels, the ship has four, small, efficient Scania/Sandfirden gas engines. This offers better fuel economy and means that output can be varied to meet different power demands. Moreover, the engines have a lower RPM than traditional inland navigation vessels. This lessens vibrations and the noise level which is a benefit when sailing through densely populated areas along the Rhine. In case of technical problems the vessel can simply continue on three engines. In addition, the modular arrangement of the gas engines provides to do maintenance ashore. The Peters LNG Packs® can easily be removed from the vessel which means that the ship does not have to remain idle for a long time as a result of maintenance or breakdown. Exchangeability means that the ship can remain in operation almost continuously. 

GREEN RHINE during naming ceremony in Rotterdam 

PetersShipyards LNG-Packs (left) containing the natural gas driven engines with its generators, the re-gasification station (middle), followed by the LNG-bunker-tanks

According to ms Belliard: “In the short to mid-term, we see opportunities for growth for natural gas mainly in heavy transport by road and in coastal and inland shipping. The use of natural gas as a fuel will aid the inland navigation sector to meet the stringent emissions standards. I therefore predict a healthy future for natural gas, with the development in the less use of energy with LNG Packs®”. The GreenRhine is thus one of the eight vessels propelled by natural gas that are already authorised by the CCNR to travel on the Rhine. Within the CCNR, work is continuing on drawing up a permanent, harmonised legal framework with a view to ensuring the safety of these vessels, their crews and the public, particularly by promoting technical innovations”. 

The gas-train to feed the engines

Images: PPM News Service Maritim

Fleet in Service – exploit its potential, control costs: Exchange of Propellers

By Peter Pospiech at September 17, 2013 05:15
Filed Under: Company News, drive systems

Flow-optimized propellers can reduce fuel consumption by up to ten tons per day

To improve ships manoeuvrability and energy efficiency also the propellers play a big role. Worldwide leading manufacturer of ship propellers is the Metallguss GmbH (MMG) in Waren, Germany. The company produces also propellers with six blades with a diameter of up to 9,30 meters and a weight of 97 tons for example for container ships with a load capacity of 9.400 TEUs. The propulsion power of such 286 meters long and 48.20 meters ship with a draft of 14.50 meters is of one diesel engine with an output of max 52.290 kW. With this a speed of 22.3 kn is reached.

Propellers of the "AIDAstella" have a diameter of 5.2 meters and weigh each 12.8 tons

The propeller is pretty much decisive to transfer as much as possible of the engine energy into propulsion energy. With particular large diameters and very specific blade geometry an efficiency gain of three to four percent can be reached – with following positive effect on operating costs and CO2-emission. This results in fuel savings of up to ten tons per day. Further features of the propellers are very good cavitation properties smooth running and with this a very low vibration inducement to the vessels hull. 

The change of the operating profile of existing ships because of lower speed means very often that the propeller design is not at its optimum any more. In most the cases has the existing propeller been designed for maximum speed and lowest cavitation risk. This design is not efficient any more at slow steaming. 

With an upgrade towards a high efficient propeller, which has been optimized for low speed and less cavitation risk, fuel consumption savings can be reached by 2 to 5%. Investment costs for the new propeller are reasonable because the material value of the old propeller is also taken into consideration. To exploit the full potential of a propeller upgrade an analysis of a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) is highly recommended. In addition it makes sense to exchange different engine components to improve the advantages of slow steaming.


Source / image: PPM News Service, courtesy of AIDA cruises


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