Why today’s engine rooms are technological masterpieces

Taking a look at the innovations that are reshaping the hub of the ship, with the latest power and propulsion systems

Why today’s engine rooms are technological masterpieces
Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady will use hybrid exhaust gas cleaning and selective catalytic reduction systems

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Today’s cruise and ferry operators are constantly looking for innovative new ways to transform the engine room. But with ever-increasing complexity, a swathe of evolving regulations to meet, growing environmental concerns and space at a premium, success requires expert care and attention. 

“Retrofitting pieces of equipment to improve efficiency or comply with upcoming environmental regulations, for example, can sometimes feel like a risky operation,” explains Mike Simpson, technical director for Marine Design Consultancy at Houlder, which has provided a turnkey installation service for operators including P&O Ferries and Carnival alongside its work on recent newbuilds for Wightlink and Caledonian MacBrayne. “Independent design, engineering and project management services, beginning with survey and 3D laser scanning, are an important phase of activity.” 

It’s something that Virgin Voyages has been keen to get right from the start. Its first-ever cruise ship Scarlet Lady, along with her two sister ships, will be powered by engines, hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers), selective catalytic reduction systems and integrated navigation systems from Finnish company Wärtsilä. Meanwhile, global industrial engineering firm ABB is to supply its Azipod gearless propulsion systems that have an electric drive motor located in a submerged pod outside the hull, to minimise noise, vibrations and cut fuel consumption by 15%. 

A hybrid approach has also been taken by French luxury cruise operator Ponant, who has recently signed French engineering firm GTT to supply two LNG fuel tanks for its icebreaker expedition ship. As a result, the ship will be able to make expeditions for up to a month entirely using LNG. 

“The GTT fuel tank solution for passenger ships gives more space for commercial use – saving cabins and offering more autonomy thanks to its compact, adaptable geometry and its high useful volume ratio (up to 95%),” says Julien Bec, vice president of the LNG as fuel division, GTT. “The GTT membrane can also operate at higher pressure than traditional tanks, thereby enabling easier management of boil-off for small tank volumes.” 

Norwegian expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten is also following suit. The company has recently signed a letter of intent with Rolls-Royce for a major environmental upgrade programme to hybrid power. The main engines on up to nine cruise ferries will switch from diesel to gas power and the upgrade will also include installation of a hybrid battery system.

The upgrade will enable the former diesel-powered ships to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 25%. “This is an investment for the future, and a historic day for us, for the environment and for the whole, long Norwegian coastline,” explained Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten, in a press release. “The combination of battery packs with the most environmentally friendly and effective gas engines in the market will provide a huge gain for the environment.”

With environmental considerations top of the agenda for cruise lines, it’s easy to see why many engineering firms are looking to advance solutions even further in the years to come. To this end, MAN Diesel & Turbo in Norway is building a new test-engine facility in collaboration with its two-stroke licensee, HHI-EMD, the engine and machinery division of Hyundai Heavy Industries. The new venture aims to expand MAN Diesel & Turbo’s research and development test capacity, in the process strengthening its development of dual-fuel gas engines.

Lars Juliussen, senior manager and head of MAN Diesel & Turbo’s Diesel Research Centre in Copenhagen, said: “The testing of our engine technology is an essential part of our continued pursuit of delivering the marine segment’s best two-stroke engines. This new test set-up will enable us to further advance our pursuit of highly reliable and environmentally-friendly technology with a strong focus on cost-competitive gas engines and related equipment.”

Meanwhile, ABB has teamed up with clean energy firm Ballard Power Systems to develop a next-generation fuel cell power system for sustainable marine e-mobility.

“The next generation of ships – electric, digital and connected – will require energy sources that are not only able to meet the increasing demands for fuel efficiency, but will also enable cleaner and safer shipping,” said Peter Terwiesch, president ABB’s Industrial Automation division, in a press release announcing the partnership. “We are excited to collaborate with Ballard Power Systems on driving the development of the next-generation fuel cell technology that will power the vessels of the future.”

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Lindsay James
By Lindsay James
Tuesday, January 29, 2019