After four years in development, Rolls-Royce has launched two pod propulsion units designed to meet consumer demands for more compact systems.
Called ELegance pods, one is an open propeller and the other is a ducted configuration, but both are designed to fit with Rolls-Royce's new proprietary battery propulsion system.
Rolls-Royce product manager Per Nahnfeldt said the company was “responding to growing electrification trends”.
“All the propulsion systems you see here today are well-suited to and integrated with the new battery system,” he said.
The ELegance pod designs are based on the permanent magnet thruster design, which provides up to 99% efficiency, according to Mr Nahnfeldt, through a motor drivetrain that offers low vibration and minimised noise due to few moving parts and a low aspect ratio.
The twin-tail design reduces cavitation and noise vibration while increasing efficiency.
“For many years we have recognised the gap in the propulsion market for smaller pods, including ice-class, in the 1.5-MW to 7-MW power range,” he said. “These new pods – based on our permanent magnet technology – complement our broad product portfolio and sit well with our range of frequency drives and electrical systems. We can now provide a complete fully electric propulsion package.”
In addition to the integration with the new battery system, the pods are linked to the Rolls-Royce Health Management system launch and geared towards a future of autonomous shipping, according to Mr Nahnfeldt.
“All of our products are built to make sure we can meet the requirements of autonomous vessels,” he said.
Mr Nahnfeldt said the cruise sector was a target market along with platform supply vessels, and he said a pilot version of the propulsion unit is under construction in Finland, due to be launched at the end of 2018. He said Rolls-Royce has “several customers” signed on to a pilot project to test the pod and reiterated that the design was underpinned by the company's Mermaid pod design that has more than 50 units in operation and over 4M operating hours, to date.