ABB's Whale's Tail-inspired Propulsion Concept Aims to Cut Marine Industry's Fuel Consumption, Emissions
ABB on Wednesday introduced what it said was a concept representing "revolutionary propulsion system breaking new ground for efficiency in the marine industry, inspired by the dynamic motions of a whale’s tail." The innovative concept is called ABB Dynafin.
The new propulsion concept features a main electric motor that powers a large wheel rotating at a moderate 30-80 rounds per minute. Vertical blades, each controlled by an individual motor and control system, extend from the wheel. The combined motion of the wheel and blades generates propulsion and steering forces simultaneously, enabling ground-breaking operational efficiency and precision for ships, ABB said.
"The concept follows ABB’s proven design philosophy in marine propulsion of gearless power transmission," ABB said.
According to ABB, an independent study of ABB Dynafin from OSK-ShipTech A/S of a passenger vessel design equipped with different propulsion solutions has verified savings in propulsion energy consumption of up to 22 percent compared to conventional shaftline configuration.
This can deliver significant savings in fuel consumption and help to avoid emissions. As part of an electric propulsion power system, the concept is also fully compatible with zero-emission battery and fuel cell technologies, ABB said.
"Initially available in the power range of 1–4 MW per unit, the new propulsion concept is particularly effective for medium-sized and smaller vessels, including ferries for passengers and vehicles, offshore support vessels operating at wind farms, and yachts. By reducing vibrations and noise levels, the system improves passenger and crew comfort. In addition, the propulsion concept delivers superior maneuverability, and positioning performance, i.e., the capacity of the vessel to maintain the desired position and heading," ABB said.
"The shipping industry contributes to almost 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. If it were a country, it would be the sixth largest emitter. However, with about 90 percent of global trade being carried on ships, it is central for the movement of goods. If no action is taken, shipping could be responsible for up to 13 percent of global emissions by 2050.
"At the same time, the International Maritime Organization has set the goal to cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050, against 2008 levels. While there is consensus in the industry that no single solution can provide a ‘silver bullet’, low-carbon fuels, alternative power sources, data analytics and energy-saving devices all have a part to play, and the role of new innovations may become notable," ABB said.
ABB estimates the first ABB Dynafin prototype to be available in 2025.