VLCC Propulsion System – Research on Environmental Effects

By George Backwell at November 20, 2011 03:51
Filed Under: Research & Development

Researchers in the Faculty of Maritime Studies in Rijeka, Croatia, used a Kongsberg Full Mission Engine Simulator to emulate a typical single screw VLCC equipped with a direct drive MAN 5L90MC two stroke marine diesel engine while operating in various sea conditions, from calm to the extreme Force 10 condition. The purpose of the research was to investigate and analyse external sea conditions and their effects on ship’s propulsion system dynamics and operating possibilities.

The resulting research paper ‘Impact of the Environmental Sea Conditions to Ship’s Propulsion Engine Dynamics’ was presented by lead researcher Vinko Tomas at the 15th International Research Expert Conference – ‘Trends in the Development of Machinery and Associated Technology’ in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 12 − 18 September 2011.

Such is the sophistication of the Kongsberg simulator the research team was able to monitor the relevant propulsion engine variables and parameters, particularly the control system response in conditions close to those that would pertain had the giant tanker been in an actual seaway.

VLCC Engine Control Room: Photo Wikimedia CCL

It is said that good research always proves true what we already knew by experience, which is borne out by one of the research findings: in the main,  if full speed is maintained when the ship is labouring in extreme weather conditions, whether in ballast or fully loaded, the control system becomes unable to stabilise engine speed and power and will automatically invoke a shutdown.  A  different outcome was found to occur with the engine put to half speed in the same harsh weather environment; the control system was then better able to manage events, although alarms were triggered a complete engine shutdown was avoided.

The researchers admitted that the dynamics of the ship’s propulsion system were non-linear and very complex, as were the dynamics of external environmental conditions. They nevertheless concluded it important to consider the impact of random wave disturbance forces and torques on ship  propulsion, especially in the design of engine control systems.

Click on this link to read the .pdf research paper.



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