Two world-leading European marine engine manufacturers, MAN Diesel & Turbo and Wärtsilä Corporation, have agreed to pursue a large joint research project, the HERCULES-C project, as a continuation of the very successful HERCULES programs for the research and development of marine engine technology.
The overall vision of the HERCULES research program is for sustainable and safe energy production from marine power plants. The technological themes of the HERCULES initiative have, since its inception in 2002, been higher efficiency, reduced emissions, and increased reliability for marine engines. However, for taking marine engine technology a step further towards improved sustainability in energy production and total energy economy, an extensive integration of the multitude of identified new technologies is required.
The proposed HERCULES-C project, expected to run for three years from 2012 to 2015, addresses this challenge by adopting a combinatory approach for engine thermal processes, system integration and optimization, as well as engine reliability and lifetime. In this way, HERCULES-C aims for marine engines that are able to produce cost-effectively the required power for the propulsion of ships throughout their lifecycle, with responsible use of natural resources, and respect for the environment.
HERCULES-C follows two earlier HERCULES projects. In HERCULES-A, from 2004 to 2007 (www.ip-hercules.com) large-scale research platforms were established, with the main objective being to screen the potential of a broad range of emission reduction technologies. Significant improvements were achieved as a result of this work.
In HERCULES-B (2008-2011) (www.hercules-b.com) the quest for reducing emissions was retained, focusing on several novel technologies. At the same time, however, more importance was placed on improved efficiency, and as a result, reduced fuel consumption and fewer CO2 emissions.
The HERCULES-C Project is planned to run over a three-year period and has a targeted budget of $25.2m, bringing the total combined budget of the HERCULES programs (2004-2015) to $104.9m. The project is expected to be proposed in 2010 for funding within the Framework Program 7 (FP7, Theme Transport), of the European Commission.
The specific objectives of HERCULES-C
The specific objectives of HERCULES-C are to achieve further substantial reductions in fuel consumption, while optimizing power production and usage. This will be achieved through advanced engine developments in combustion and fuel injection, as well as through the optimization of ship energy management, and engine technologies supporting transport mission management.
Furthermore, green product lifecycle technologies will be introduced to maintain the technical performance of engines throughout their operational lifetime. This includes advanced materials and tribology developments to improve safety and reliability, as well as sensors, and monitoring and measurement technologies to improve the controllability and availability of marine power plants.
The third specific objective of HERCULES-C is to achieve near-zero emissions by integrating the various technologies developed from the previous collaborative research efforts.