Fuel-efficiency on the high seas

2008-09-14 - Over the past four years, Royal Caribbean International has launched the world’s four largest cruise ships, including the Oasis of the Seas, which is 50 percent larger than any cruise ship afloat. All of the ships are powered and propelled by an energy-efficient power and propulsion solution from ABB.

By ABB Communications

Ships that consume 15% less fuel? Absolutely.

The Freedom Class ships, each capable of carrying more than 5,000 people, are like floating towns with an ice rink, swimming pools, restaurants and a 1,300-seat theatre. ABB’s Azipod propulsion system, introduced in 1990, provides greater maneuverability, reduces vibration on board and cuts fuel consumption.

“Azipods have extremely good fuel efficiency,” said Harri Kulovaara, senior vice president at Royal Caribbean International. “The saving is around 10 to 15 percent compared with conventional propellers.”

ABB’s Azipod provides greater maneuverability, comfort and fuel efficiency

Space-saving Azipod propulsion and steering units are currently installed in about 80 vessels, from cruise liners to icebreakers and drilling rigs, and have accumulated more than 5 million operational hours.

The technology is helping to reduce the impact of shipping on the environment. Global shipping produced carbon dioxide emissions of 655 million tons in 2005, compared with aviation’s 793 million tons, according to the International Energy Agency.

The last of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom Class vessels, the Independence of the Seas, set off on its maiden voyage in May 2008. Liberty of the Seas was launched in 2007 and Freedom of the Seas in 2006.

The 160,000-ton luxury liners were the biggest cruise ships ever built in terms of both gross tonnage and passenger capacity. They carry as many as 4,370 guests and 1,360 crew on 18 decks, and have a cruising speed of 21.6 knots.

Bigger ships need greater maneuverability, Ilvonen says
The Freedom class has now been overtaken by Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, delivered to its owners in November 2009. Oasis is 50 percent larger than any cruise ship afloat.

The Freedom class ships are fitted with three 14-megawatt Azipod propulsion units each, a fixed one in the center with additional units on either side, able to revolve in a full circle, providing directional thrust. Because of its larger size, Oasis of the Seas is equipüped with three fully rotating propulsion units.

“The bigger cruise ships are, the more maneuverability they need,” said Toivo Ilvonen, project manager for the Freedom Class ships at STX Europe, formerly Aker Finnyards, where the vessels were built. “Their maneuverability must be far above what is available in a conventional propulsion system.”

The propulsion solution combines ABB’s Azipod propulsion system with a complete ABB electrification system that includes generators, medium-voltage switchboards, transformers, variable-speed drives, protection units, bow thruster motors and low-voltage distribution equipment.

ABB is the world’s leading supplier of power and propulsion systems for the marine industry.

ABB is also a world leader in the manufacture of high-performance diesel engine turbochargers, which pack more oxygen into an engine to help it burn fuel more efficiently. Turbochargers reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent while producing as much as 300 percent more power.

More than 50 percent of the world’s tankers, container ships, diesel power stations and mining vehicles are fitted with ABB turbochargers.

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