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Marine propulsion

ABB’s Azipod® propulsion systems have had a huge impact on the operating efficiency of ships and floating vessels – reducing their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 25 percent.

When launched in 1990, in collaboration with Kvaerner Masa-Yards dockyards in Finland (now STX Europe), Azipod opened up a new dimension in marine technology as the world’s first propulsion system built into a rotating 'pod' fastened to the outside hull of a ship. 

Based on groundbreaking ABB innovations in AC motors, variable-speed drives, power semiconductors and propeller systems, the Azipod (which stands forAzimuthing electric podded drive) unit is an electrically driven propeller mounted on a pod, which rotates 360° around its vertical axis and delivers thrust in any direction for unprecedented maneuverability. 

A high-efficiency electric motor is located in the pod and controlled by powerful variable-speed drives onboard the ship. ABB generators produce electricity for both the propulsion system and the power requirements of the entire vessel.

The Azipod system's signature benefits – low fuel consumption, greater speed using less power, better maneuverability, reduced noise and a compact footprint – typically reduce energy consumption of open-water vessels by 5 to 15 percent, but savings as high as 25 percent have been recorded.

To date, more than 80 vessels are equipped with Azipod units, which have accumulated more than five million operating hours in some of the most demanding marine applications – icebreakers, luxury cruise ships, research vessels and offshore supply vessels, as well as drilling rigs, ferries and megayachts.

Compared to the conventional propulsion-shaft and rudder alternative, the Azipod system, in addition to using less fuel, delivers substantial improvements in hydrodynamic efficiency, and takes up less space on board. Azipod systems’ improved maneuverability allows ships to operate in more confined spaces and in more challenging sea conditions, and the near elimination of noise and vibrations is a comfort to passengers, especially on luxury cruise liners.

In 2009 ABB launched the second generation of this award-winning technology, Azipod XO, which is designed to further improve the energy efficiency of marine vessels. 
The new technology joins an extensive range of Azipod solutions for small and large vessels, contra-rotating applications like containers ships and LNG tankers, icebreakers and icegoing vessels, and high thrust applications like drilling rigs. Notable Azipod achievements include the following:

 25-percent fuel saving for Chinese train ferry
The Bohai Train Ferry links the Chinese cities of Dalian and Yantai across the Gulf of Bohai, a distance of 185 kilometers. The ferry was opened in 2007. ABB provided Azipod power and propulsion solutions for three new ferries, each of which can accommodate 50 railway freight cars, 50 20-ton trucks, 25 passenger cars and 400 passengers. According to Bohai Train Ferry, the vessels consume 25 percent less energy than conventional roll on-roll off vessels.

Huge savings for high-speed Japanese ferries
The two largest and fastest RoPax (roll on-roll off passenger) ferries in Japan were the first vessels in the world to be equipped with ABB’s contra-rotating Azipod propulsion system. Launched in 2004, the ferries have brought huge benefits to their owners, Shin Nihonkai Ferry, including a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to the previous vessels. The ferries are faster than their predecessors and can carry 15 percent more cargo by volume.

Improving efficiency and reliability for deepwater drilling rigs
Azipod CZ is a unique thruster system for drill ships and drilling rigs that requires up to 15 percent less installed power than a mechanical thruster. Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, has two deepwater drilling rigs equipped with eight Azipod CZ thrusters which, after more than 450,000 cumulative operating hours, are providing Transocean with the efficiency and reliability necessary for deepwater drilling. 

The world’s largest cruise liners
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, currently the largest cruise liner in the world, can carry more than 7,500 passengers and crew, and is the first ship of its kind to be equipped with three fully steerable Azipod units. The third unit delivers the additional control, flexibility and power demanded by such a large vessel.

ABB is the world’s leading supplier of electric power and propulsion systems for the marine industry, with a complete scope of supply including power generation and distribution systems and vessel control systems.