May 31, 2023 | Marine propulsion & machinery news

ABB is introducing a new concept described as “a revolutionary propulsion system breaking new ground for efficiency in the marine industry”, inspired by the dynamic motions of a whale’s tail,.

The concept, known as Dynafin, is said to be the result of over a decade of research, development, and testing. ABB estimates the first prototype to be available in 2025.

Juha Koskela, Division President, ABB Marine & Ports, said: “ABB Dynafin shows what is possible when marine engineers pursue radical innovation and progress, inspired by the interplay of evolution and technology. This solution is all about operational efficiency and emissions avoidance, leveraging innovations from the brightest minds in marine and propulsion engineering. I want to thank the whole team for their persistence, resilience, innovativeness, and years of hard work.”

The Dynafin concept features a main electric motor that powers a large wheel rotating at a moderate 30-80 rpm. Vertical blades, each controlled by an individual motor and control system, extend from the wheel. The combined motion of the wheel and blades generates propulsion and steering forces simultaneously, enabling significant expected gains in operational efficiency and precision for ships. The concept follows ABB’s proven gearless power transmission design philosophy for marine propulsion.

An independent study of ABB Dynafin from OSK-ShipTech of a passenger vessel design equipped with different propulsion solutions has verified savings in propulsion energy consumption of up to 22% compared to a conventional shaftline configuration. This can deliver significant savings in fuel consumption and help to avoid emissions. As part of an electric propulsion power system, the concept is fully compatible with zero-emission battery and fuel cell technologies.

Initially available in the power range of 1–4 MW per unit, the new propulsion concept is particularly effective for medium-sized and smaller vessels, including ferries for passengers and vehicles, offshore support vessels operating at wind farms, and superyachts. By reducing vibration and noise levels, the system improves onboard comfort. In addition, the concept is claimed to deliver superior manoeuvrability and positioning performance, i.e., the capacity of the vessel to maintain the desired position and heading.

Dynafin is the latest addition to ABB’s portfolio comprising electric, automated and digital technologies. From experience gained in electric and hybrid propulsion, the company says it has been pushing the boundaries of technology, and driving efficiency, performance, and sustainability to new levels through the 30-year plus track record of Azipod propulsion. The new propulsion concept will complement the existing propulsion portfolio.

According to ABB, while there is consensus in the industry that no single solution to the IMO decarbonisation goals can provide a ‘silver bullet’, low-carbon fuels, alternative power sources, data analytics and energy-saving devices all have a part to play, and the role of new innovations such as Dynafin may prove to be significant.

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