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Virtual race proves: ABB electric propulsion Azipod® saves fuel and cuts emissions

In pursuit of greater operational efficiency, two captains raced against each other in a digital simulator with ferries equipped with conventional shaftline and Azipod® electric propulsion systems

ABB has staged a virtual race in the marine simulator facilities in Helsinki, where two experienced ferry captains competed head-to-head to find out which propulsion system delivered greater operational and environmental benefits.

Utilizing a digital simulator, Captain Ulf Lindroos of Viking Line and Captain Pietro Esposito of Grandi Navi Veloci had to navigate through a predetermined route into the port of Genoa in Italy, bringing their ferries to berth in the most safe, efficient and sustainable manner.

Watch the video below: In pursuit of greater operational efficiency, two captains raced against each other in a digital simulator with ferries equipped with conventional shaftline and Azipod® electric propulsion systems

The race involved complex maneuvering in the harbor, with captains having to make a fast turn, followed by reversing the vessel astern to dock. To take the challenge up a gear, the marine simulator added the element of gusty weather, with winds of 5-7 meters per second pushing the vessel away from the dock. Neither of the captains had operated a vessel equipped with an Azipod® propulsion system before.

“The captains would need to take quite a lot of elements into consideration during this race, while they tried to dock the vessel as quickly as possible,” said Jukka Varis, Vice President of Technology at ABB Marine & Ports. “That includes the safety of the passengers on board, as well as challenging weather in a busy port with lots of traffic.”

During the first run, Capt. Lindroos docked the ferry equipped with the recently launched mid-power range Azipod® propulsion system in just 7 minutes and 58 seconds, consuming a total of 0,89 MWh in energy. Capt. Esposito took almost two minutes longer, with 1,26 MWh energy consumed.

“Capt. Esposito was using the conventional shaftline vessel’s stern thrusters to come into the dock against the wind. It was not only taking more time, but also more fuel, which means more emissions,” said Varis. “In total, the race showed 20% savings on the time and 30% savings on the fuel consumption. You can only imagine how much difference that makes when you count the savings on an annual basis.”

Speaking about his experience with the Azipod® propulsion, Capt. Lindroos highlighted the system’s benefits: “It’s easy to maneuver, easy to use, and you don’t need to use a rudder.”

To minimize the impact of the human factor on the race results, the captains swapped and had another run through the port of Genoa – with Azipod® propulsion once again enabling the ferry to dock faster. 

Capt. Esposito, who had the opportunity to try out the ferry equipped with the Azipod® propulsion system, agreed: “I think this is the future of the ship propulsion.”

“It's not the captain – it is definitely the technology that the captain has at his fingertips,” commented Varis.

Captain Pietro Esposito had the opportunity to try out the ferry equipped with the Azipod® propulsion system, agreed: “I think this is the future of the ship propulsion.”

Captain Ulf Lindroos highlighted the Azipod® system’s benefits: “It’s easy to maneuver, easy to use, and you don’t need to use a rudder.”

Background

Azipod® propulsion was first introduced in 1990, since then becoming an industry benchmark in environment-friendly vessel technology. The Azipod® system, which extends below the hull of a ship, can rotate 360 degrees to increase maneuverability, efficiency and space available on board. Due to minimal noise and vibration, Azipod® propulsion also improves passenger and crew comfort.

In response to customer requests, ABB has filled the gap between the low and high-power range of Azipod® propulsors with the launch of a new series available in 7.5-14.5MW. In addition to ferry and RoPax vessels, this power range will also be applicable for larger offshore construction vessels, midsize cruise ships and shuttle tankers.  With this expansion, the Azipod® propulsion family now covers the power range of 1-22MW.

Recent breakthrough orders in the ferry segment include the Azipod® propulsion system specified for an LNG-powered vessel due for delivery to Viking Line next year. Azipod® propulsion was also preferred by Wasaline for the recently ordered dual-fuel and battery power ferry, which will operate between Sweden and Finland.

Hydrodynamic benefits

Due to lack of shaftline, supporting brackets and tunnel thrusters, the pulling Azipod® propeller receives steady incoming water flow, resulting in less noise and vibration, and better efficiency.

Faster port approaches and departures

Ships equipped with Azipod® propulsion have superior manoeuvrability with the 360° steerable main propellers. Turning of the ship, crabbing, steering while decelerating and stopping are more effective, accurate and faster compared to conventional shaftline-rudder propulsion. Below images shows an example from a simulator run, where turning in a dock with a 200-meter RoPax was six minutes faster with Azipod® propulsion.

Shaftline propulsion

Azipod® propulsion

For newbuilding projects, port and vessel specific time savings in manoeuvring can be estimated in ABB’s deck simulator facility in Helsinki, Finland. Customer representatives can make runs in a variety of different ports and see the differences between Azipod® and shaftline vessels for themselves.

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