ABB has presented a new electric drive system concept for significantly more efficient ships under the name Dynafin. The system dispenses with a traditional propeller and is instead designed to mimic the “movements of a whale’s tail”.
Dynafin includes an electric main drive system that drives a large wheel rotating at a moderate 30-80 revolutions per minute. Vertical blades extend from the wheel, each regulated by its own drive and control system. The combined motion of the wheel and paddles generates propulsion and steering forces simultaneously, which ABB says “enables pioneering efficiency and precision in marine operations”.
The system is also said to reduce vibrations and noise, increasing comfort for passengers and crew. In addition, the propulsion concept ensures “excellent manoeuvrability and positioning performance – the ability of the vessel to maintain the desired position and course”, ABB said.
An independent study of ABB Dynafin on a passenger ship equipped with various propulsion solutions had demonstrated energy savings of up to 22 per cent compared to a conventional shaft drive design, it said. However, the saving compared to the Azipod drive, also developed by ABB, is not stated. In the Azipod technology, an electric drive is mounted in a three-rotating nacelle below the hull of the vessel.
ABB says it expects the first prototype of the Dynafin system to be available in 2025. As part of an electric propulsion system, the concept also features full compatibility with battery and fuel cell technology. The new propulsion concept will initially be available in the power range of 1 to 4 megawatts per unit and will be particularly suitable for medium-sized and smaller vessels, including passenger and vehicle ferries, offshore supply vessels for use at wind farms, and yachts.
“ABB Dynafin shows what is possible when marine engineers pursue radical innovation and progress, inspired by the interplay of evolution and technology,” says Juha Koskela, head of ABB’s Marine & Ports division. “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.”