The Allure of Power

Thursday, April 04, 2002
Continuity is a valuable asset in the marine field, especially so in relation to the most essential products pivotal to vessel design and operation. The diesel engine producers' adeptness at enhancing existing, successful designs at intervals through power and performance upgradings is a prime example of the development potential built into ships' machinery, making for longevity of the series involved. The ensuing continuity of the product line offers practical benefits to the client market and also to the licensors and manufacturers, given the huge investment costs entailed in developing entirely new engines and putting the requisite tooling in place.

In the latest example of the enhancement and modernization of a proven class of diesel, MAN B&W is planning to release a new version of the second-best seller in its medium-speed family from Augsburg, the 48/60 type. The new 48/60B is to be introduced at a rating of 1,200-kW per cylinder at running speeds of 500 and 514-rpm, an increase of 14-percent over the 48/60 in its present guise.

However, higher output is just one, albeit fundamental aspect of the advances encapsulated by the B generation in relation to its immediate predecessor. Better fuel economy, lower mass and lower exhaust gas emissions, including smoke, are also claimed for the V-engine models, which will lead the 48/60B's market entry under a campaign dubbed 'The allure of power'.

Vee-form engines in 12- to 18-cylinder configurations, covering a power bracket between 14,400 and 21,600-kW are due to become available from early 2003.

In-line models of 6- to 9-cylinder layout should follow during the late summer of 2003, taking the range from nominal outputs of 7,200-kW upwards.

MAN B&W's initiative will surely intensify competition in a medium-speed diesel power band pertinent to passengerships, ferries, RoRos and other types of tonnage. Moreover, the design is well-suited to stationary power generation applications. Since its market launch in 1989, up to January 31 this year, the 48/60 series has attracted sales of 245 engines, amounting to 2,630 cylinders and 3.7m-bhp.Operating hours from the 162 engines ordered for marine applications and 83 used in land-based duties have topped 3.2 million hours, with some having already logged about 60,000 running hours. Indicative of the progression achieved with a single design, the 48/60 had originally been launched with a rating of 885-kW per cylinder at 428 and 450-rpm.

Spanish Group Endorses Pentamaran

As part of its strategy to foster business in the high-speed marine transportation sector, Spain's IZAR Group is collaborating with the British technical consultancy Nigel Gee & Associates (NGA) in the development of fast RoPax and RoRo vessel designs.

The recent unveiling of a proposal for a 40-knot RoPax type followed the signing of a license agreement granting IZAR exclusive European manufacturing rights to the adoption of the Pentamaran hull form in large RoRo equipped vessel applications.

The pact gives a further string to IZAR's bow in its multi-faceted bid to re-enter the high-speed ferry market. It also provides a basis whereby the innovative, patented Pentamaran could be progressed from a widely-acclaimed concept to forming the template for a range of vessels to be introduced to the market over the next five years. IZAR has substantial experience in the design and construction of light-displacement fast ferries, built at its San Fernando yard. Market studies carried out by the group pointed to a future demand for vessels of up to 40 knots incorporating higher deadweights than previously possible, with shipowners seeking 1,000-dwt and looking longer-term to 2,000-dwt or more.

Rather than scaling-up existing monohull types for such combinations of speed and higher payloads, IZAR sought alternative, more cost-attractive solutions.

The Pentamaran form, a slender monohull stabilized by two pairs of sponsons resulting in a broad loading platform, was favored for the potential it offers for a 30 percent reduction in power in large, high-speed vessels relative to current monohull or catamaran alternatives. The Pentamaran RoPax proposal, moreover, employs steel construction and heavy fuel oil-burning medium-speed diesel plant, out of consideration of owners' preferences and operating cost criteria.

In a paper prepared for the recent Fast Ferry Conference in Nice by Juan Antonio Moret, IZAR's high-speed vessel design manager, and Nigel Gee, managing director of Southampton-based NGA, it was explained that the IZAR Pentamaran fast ferry had been developed to carry 900 passengers and 280 cars, or up to 24 x 30-ton trucks plus 48 cars.

While formulated in mind of a wide range of potential route applications, special reference had been made in the project development to the conditions and requirements on two busy connections, the 20-mile route across the Gibraltar Strait between Algeciras and Ceuta, and the 120-mile link between Barcelona and Palma di Mallorca.

Propulsion machinery would be installed in the central hull just aft of midships. Four engines of the Wärtsilä 38-series medium-speed design have been built into the provisional specification, driving a total of three transom-mounted, steerable and reversible waterjets.

The configuration is intended to yield the requisite raw power and maneuverability, while also conferring flexibility and economy by better enabling engine usage and settings to be closely matched to actual service and speed requirements.

IZAR is also cooperating with NGA in the development of a larger Pentamaran design for carrying up to 3,000-tons of RoRo cargo in open-sea conditions. This would have a top speed of 41-knots, engendered by a medium-speed diesel plant, and be fabricated from high-tensile steel throughout.

Industrial Heritage Is Retained

After plant closure had been earlier mooted, part of the fabric of Europe's marine diesel engine industry now looks set to be retained following a new proposal for the restructuring of Wärtsilä's operations in the Netherlands. Wärtsilä is now prepared to outsource manufacturing of engine components at the extensively modernized Zwolle factory, selling the production capacity to an outside supplier. In addition, the Finnish group will develop its maintenance and repair services at the works, and continue local sales activities. Although engine design and assembly would, as originally foreseen, be relocated to Wärtsilä's Trieste complex in northeastern Italy, the revised plan would avert the shutdown of Zwolle, hitherto the production point for the Wärtsilä 26 and 38-series engines. The service function had also been slated for transfer to the unit in Schiedam, near Rotterdam.

At the time of writing, discussions were underway with personnel on the details of the proposed solution, but this appeared to have received general support.

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