Combined propulsion points to large savings


The TRIPOD project, coordinated by VTT, has developed an innovative propulsion system promising annual fuel savings for a modern container ship of 0.5–1 million euros. The new system integrated three separate propulsion technologies – already known for their high efficiency over conventional propulsion – into a single system.

The research produced a further increase in propulsion efficiency by combining RudderPod propulsion units developed by ABB Finland with Contracted and Loaded Tip propellers (CLT), developed by the Spanish company Sistemar, and contra-rotating propellers (CRP). Thanks to its lower fuel consumption and emissions, the new propulsion system appears a promising alternative to conventional propellers.

Based on the TRIPOD project results, the fuel consumption of a container ship retrofitted with the new propulsion system is about 5% lower, and that of a newly built ship 10% lower, than conventional solutions. The research showed that a single cargo ship could save up to €500,000 and a large container ship as much as €1 million in fuel consumption. The efficiency of newly-built systems could improve by 10 per cent and retrofitted engines by five per cent.

An additional economic cost benefit analysis further examined the viability of the new propulsion solutions for the reference ships, concluding that if – in close cooperation with the relevant specialist suppliers – the investment level could be brought down, ship owners would be stimulated to explore further installation opportunities, especially in large container ship newbuilding projects.

The three-year programme TRIPOD – “Triple Energy Saving by use of CRP, CLT and Podded Propulsion” – was implemented within the EU's Seventh Framework Programme. Partners in the programme were VTT, ABB (Finland), Sistemar (Spain), Cehipar (Spain), Cintranaval-Defcar (Spain) and A. P. Möller Maersk (Denmark).

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