Swiss-based power and automation company ABB is launching a new version of its popular Azipod propulsion unit that it says is up to 10 percent more efficient than existing versions.
Azipod propulsion is the shipping industry’s leading podded electric propulsion system, and ABB believes the improved efficiency and bollard pull will expand its appeal beyond established markets.
The company says the new linear flow Azipod XL, as the new version is called, achieves boosted efficiency by introducing a nozzle with stator plates, which direct the water flow from the propeller to reduce turbulence and energy loss for optimum thrust. The new unit is even up to 20 percent more efficient than modern shaft line propulsion systems, according to ABB.
The Azipod XL represents the biggest jump in the systems’ fuel efficiency in recent years, ABB says. To put it in perspective, if the newest model replaced all existing Azipod units it would save the shipping industry 2.2 million tons of fuel, and 7 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years, according to ABB.
It has been 25 years since the first installation of an Azipod unit, racking up more than 12 million running hours, saving 700,000 tons of fuel in the process, ABB notes.
“The new Azipod XL is completely in step with the needs of the maritime industry. Ship owners always want solutions which improve their bottom line whilst more stringent emission regulations are pushing operators to utilize the most efficient propulsion system possible,” says Juha Koskela, Managing Director of ABB’s Marine and Ports business.
One of the strengths of the modifications is that they are relatively simple, meaning there will be no compromise to Azipod propulsion’s excellent availability record, currently standing over 99.8%, ABB said in a press statement. Azimuth propulsion works by drawing water into the propeller and pulling the vessel, so the addition of a nozzle will optimize the water flow as it leaves the propeller. All the improvements have been tested extensively using scaled versions in laboratory conditions, ABB says.
“Azipod propulsion is widely used in the cruise industry and on many complex specialized offshore vessels” says Koskela. “However improved fuel efficiency and bollard pull of the Azipod XL will increase its competitiveness into new sectors such as tugs, ferries and LNG tankers.”
The Azipod XL concept can be designed to give high bollard pull thrust at lower speed and still have good characteristics at higher speeds. This improved performance along with better fuel efficiency and 360-degree maneuverability makes the Azipod XL ideal for a wider range of vessels, such as tugs, offshore construction vessels, ferries, and even LNG tankers, according to ABB.