Marine Propulsion conference tackles key issuesTaken from: Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery news desk, 7 March 2012
In his welcome address Oskar Levander, vice-president innovation, engineering and technology – marine at Rolls-Royce, platinum sponsor for the fifth Riviera Maritime Media Annual Marine Propulsion Conference, in London on March 7-8 attended by over 200 delegates, summed up the key themes underlying many of the presentations on the first day. “We need to improve the efficiency of ships to drive down fuel costs and to meet new regulations on emissions.” He identified the big challenge to find the marine engineers and naval architects to develop innovations. “We are at the dawn of a new era in shipping with environmental issues and high fuel costs requiring innovative solutions.
The opening Operators’ Forum identified the practical impact of these challenges with owners outlining how they are affected. Arnaud Lepoulichet, technical director at Brittany Ferries pointed out the huge increase in fuel costs that will arise from an enforced switch to low sulphur distillate fuels. Like many owners it is investigating the use of gas as fuel but there are still many unanswered questions. The debate revealed differing opinions about scrubber technology and its effectiveness.
Suppliers offered some potential technical solutions in the second session ‘Greater efficiency through the drivetrain’. These included Rolls-Royce on the latest advances in pod propulsion systems and Michael Schwiefert from Renk on the benefits of using shaft generators over gensets, with fuel and maintenance cost savings.
Energy saving devices featured included Schottel presenting the latest thinking in propeller design and the use of nozzles. Dr Jie Dang senior project manager at MARIN outlined research on techniques for measuring the effectiveness of energy saving devices. “Large savings are possible from ESDs but they must be carefully designed and evaluated with model tests indispensible.
Session chairman Ed Fort, head of engineering systems at Lloyd’s Register commented the common theme of the need for designers, manufacturers and others to work together to seek optimum solutions to these various challenges. He added that these changes mean that the engineroom of the future will look very different and will require new skills from crews, raising concerns from the classification perspective.
The use of electric propulsion featured strongly through the first day with the third session dedicated to the topic. Jostein Bogen, project leader, onboard DC System at ABB put forward the innovative concept of the DC Grid, with a pilot project onboard a vessel, due to commence in June. In particular it removes the need for a switchboard and transformers producing savings in specific fuel oil consumption of up to 21 per cent.
A highlight of the opening day was the concluding session which for the first time brought together representatives from five leading lube oil suppliers on a panel in a fascinating debate on the problems and possible solutions to developments affecting cylinder lubricating requirements, such as slower speeds and the use of a variety of different fuels, focusing on two-stroke engines. Not surprisingly Total Lubmarine, Chevron Lubricants, ExxonMobil, Shell and Castrol offered varying answers. Jean Philippe Roman, technical director at Total Lubmarine was a strong advocate for its new universal lube oil, which he said has undergone extensive testing.
By contrast, Steve Walker global field engineering services manager at ExxonMobil commented that there is a need for at least two different lubricants to deal with variations in fuel sulphur content and possibly three in future. Castrol’s Paul Harrold said that the need to carry two different lubes could be avoided by using lube oil with a higher Base Number. Mr Walker added that ship operators could help themselves more by addressing the fact that many ships are over lubricating and increasing resultant wear.
This discussion among lube oil suppliers could easily have continued for much longer, but provided a lively conclusion to an intensive and stimulating day of presentations and debates as the industry searches technical solutions to the major challenges it faces.