ABB debuts new ABB Dynafin electric propulsion concept

Industry-first solution will cut fuel consumption while increasing manoeuvrability and operational efficiency 

ABB debuts new ABB Dynafin electric propulsion concept

ABB Marine & Ports

ABB Dynafin has five blades that can be independently controlled to increase manoeuvrability and operational efficiency

By Rebecca Gibson |

ABB Marine & Ports has debuted ABB Dynafin, a new electric propulsion concept inspired by the dynamic movements of a whale’s tail that has the potential to help vessel operators significantly reduce fuel consumption.

Developed after more than a decade of research and testing, the ABB Dynafin propulsion system uses a cycloidal propeller to mimic the movements of a whale tail to drive greater manoeuvrability and significantly increase the operational efficiency of a vessel. It has a large wheel connected to five vertical blades, each of which is operated by an individual motor and control system. The large wheel is also powered by an electric motor and rotates at 30-80 rounds per minute. The combined motion of the wheel and the blades generates propulsion and steering forces simultaneously.

“What makes our new propulsion system unique is our capability to control each blade individually in real time during each revolution, creating a new standard of hydrodynamic performance,” said Janne Pohjalainen, global product line manager at ABB Marine & Ports, speaking during the product launch event on 31 May.

“Our solution is also capable of adapting its behaviour to the needs of the operator. This technology has the potential to enable extremely high efficiency and precise manoeuvrability, and it is optimised for different ship types and operational requirements.”

ABB Dynafin will initially have a power range of one to four megawatts (MW) per unit, making it particularly suitable for smaller and medium-sized vessels, such as passenger and vehicle ferries, cruise ships, yachts and offshore support vessels at wind farms.

Naval architecture firm OSK-ShipTech conducted an independent study of a passenger vessel equipped with different types of propulsion systems and found that an ABB Dynafin could achieve up to 22 per cent savings in propulsion energy consumption compared to a conventional shaftline configuration.

ABB Marine & Ports predicts that ABB Dynafin could also help operators to significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

“Let me share a theoretical example – a typical small passenger vessel that operates 4,300 hours per year with propulsion power of four megawatts consumes around 3,200 tons of fuel,” said Pohjalainen. “So, with a 15 to 20 per cent lower power demand compared to the current typical solution to operate, it could save 600 tons of fuel per year.”

As part of an electric propulsion power system, ABB Dynafin is also fully compatible with zero-emission battery and fuel cell technologies. Other benefits of the system include the fact that it increases operational efficiency and safety, offers dynamic positioning, and has both a modular structure and a low number of components that can be easily accessed and maintained from onboard the ship.

“We are aiming for an open water efficiency of up to 85 per cent due to our capability to adjust the trajectory of the blades during each revolution of the propulsion,” said Pohjalainen.

In addition, moving the blades independently will also enable operators to “almost instantly” change the thrust and direction, while the low vibrations and lack of mechanical geared power transmission will increase onboard comfort and reduce underwater noise.

“This is the result of bringing together the brightest minds in marine industry and deep expertise in automation and control, mechanical systems, hydrodynamics and ship electrification,” said Björn Rosengren, CEO of ABB. “I dare to say that this innovation could not have been developed anywhere else by anyone else at any other time; it’s a concept that we believe will change the future of the marine world.”

ABB predicts that it will be able to pilot the first prototype in 2025.

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