Project objectives

Commercial goals:

The main goal of the Co-innovation joint action is to create a network of SMEs and mid-cap companies that offer full propulsion solution for mid-size ships. The companies forming the network increase their negotiation position against the large companies that can offer the full propulsion solution alone. The propulsion solution is targeted for mid-size ships where the propulsion power is 1-6 MW per unit. Initially, interesting ship types are ferries, icebreaking supply vessels, (icebreaking) offshore wind turbine service vessels, product tankers and workboats.

The commercial potential for the full propulsion solution for the targeted vessel is of order from few million euros to more than ten million euros. The goal of the project is to have more deliveries of the full propulsion solution to the network and to increase the total value of the ship projects to the participating companies. The business potential of propulsion deliveries will be identified for several ship types and the most promising one is investigated in detail. The results are then generalized to other ship types. To make the new solution competitive, the aim is to lower the capital costs of the solution by 15 % compared to the present solutions.

To increase the total value of the full propulsion solutions, the business potential for the maintenance and operational support will be identified. A co-operation model between the network companies for predictive maintenance, intelligent power grid, obsolescence management, and life-cycle excellence will be created. Furthermore, the business potential is studied in modularity and interfaces, and system level optimization. The business potential rising from wider use of alternative fuels will be investigated.

The interests of different stakeholders in the value chain of ship propulsion will be identified. Marketing and communication strategy will be created for the stakeholders based on their interests. The potential clients will be identified from the different parts of the value chain in the full propulsion solution.

The project will create a plan to enter the market. Suitable marketing material will be produced to support the effort. A high-quality demonstrator will be created where the advantages of the new solution are easily illustrated.

Technological goals:

The most crucial technological goal of the project is the design and maintenance of the interfaces between different components and systems in the solution. The interfaces must be robust over the whole life cycle of the vessel. The updates of the systems and components must not interfere the performance of the interfaces.

The energy efficiency of the thruster unit and the energy management system should increase by 10 % compared to present solutions in real operation conditions. The goal reflects towards the IMO 2050 target to reduce energy consumption of shipping. In addition to the system design and optimization, also operational practices are considered in the project to lower the environmental impact of the propulsion system. That includes route optimization as well as operation optimization in dynamic position mode and virtual anchoring.

The predictive maintenance will be enhanced in the thruster unit and in the power management system. The goal is to identify incepting malfunctions in the thruster unit or power management system at an early stage and plan the corrective actions so that the disturbance for the vessel operation is as low as possible. In addition, operational guidance can be given to ship crew to avoid the heaviest actions to the ship propulsion system based on the findings in the monitoring system.

The underwater noise of the thruster unit should be controlled and kept below any relevant noise limits of classification societies. The goal supports EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) to achieve good environmental status in European seas. The directive specifically mentions the problem of noise pollution. The reasoning for the directive is a concern that anthropological noise may mask biologically important signals by increasing the background noise level in seas.

The material use will be optimized for the propeller and the thruster unit to decrease price and loads in the thruster. The new reduced loads will allow to avoid the need of over-dimensioning small and medium sized mechanical thrusters according to current ice class rules. That will decrease the size and price of the ice-classified thrusters and will make them a more attractive option for ship owners. The project investigates possibilities to decrease the nominal ice loads by modifying the thruster unit geometry and using more advanced dimensioning methods.

The power management system will also be optimized for the true operating profile. The energy management system will include hybrid energy storage systems and the power peaks will be shaved by electric power sources. The energy management system will also be designed for alternative fuels.

The energy efficiency of the electric motor connected to the thruster will be optimized in more deep integration to the propulsion unit.

Dynamic positioning is a key function in the vessels considered for the modular propulsion concept. The possibilities for energy savings in dynamic positioning and virtual anchoring will be carefully studied.