Friday, December 12, 2014

Norway team develops advances in electric/hybrid ship technology

The technologies of diesel-electric and fully-electric propulsion systems are developing in Norway, according to recent reports, allowing for cuts in shipping costs and propulsion noise. This could potentially result in ships nearly as silent as modern submarines.

Siemens-employed Odd Moen is based out of Trondheim. Moen’s teams have outfitted more than 200 ships with hybrid-electric power-trains over recent years.

"We use diesel-electric propulsion systems for many ships," Moen stated. "In these installations, the ships’ propellers, or ‘screws,’ are turned by inverter-fed electric motors that get their energy from diesel-powered generators. This arrangement gives us much finer control of the screws, which results in fuel savings."

"In order to maintain a vessel’s position at sea or to move at very slow speeds, the amount of propulsion needed is sometimes so minimal that it need not be more than the power to adjust the pitch of the propeller blades," explained Moen. "The propeller turns at a constant speed. As a result, the diesel engine also does so." In this hybrid system, the frequency converter controlling the propeller rotation speed directly allows for slower turning and cost savings.

The company’s first use of the diesel-electric technology was back in 1996 on a supply boat for drilling platforms, The Skandi Marstein. Moen said the ship was a milestone for his company. On a three-day cruise, it used 35 percent less energy than a diesel ship.

"Although the Skandi Marstein was advanced for its time, it is actually no more than a floating truck," Moen said. "It delivers supplies to a drilling platform and hauls away trash. But the new pipeline ships will have to operate under much more extreme conditions, hold their exact positions in deep water, and provide plenty of energy for welding, insulating, and laying pipelines."

For more of the Clean Technica story:

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