AIDA Cruises – Embracing the Use of LNG as a Ship Fuel

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AIDAprima under construction at MHI, image: AIDA

In mid-October, the world’s first LNG hybrid barge “Hummel” was christened in Hamburg, Germany with the mission to provide an environmentally-friendly power source for AIDA Cruises new flagship, AIDAprima and other ships such as the AIDAsol.  In the winter, Hummel will provide both electrical energy and heat for the public grid.

Imtech Marine provided the innovative power management system (PMS) for this barge and gave the following description of how it works:

Due to its different functionalities for summer and winter operation and resulting different net frequencies (50/60 Hz), the PMS of the Hybrid Barge is very complex and needed a special technological solution. In summer, the PMS of the Hybrid Barge has to interact with the PMS of the AIDA vessel. During this process, the complete electrical load of the AIDA vessel will be transferred to the LNG-Hybrid barge in a specific time frame. To provide the whole load of an AIDA vessel, it is necessary that all five gas engines of the LNG-Hybrid Barge run in parallel and already before being connected to the ship. After the load transfer from the ship to the LNG-Hybrid Barge, all the engines on the AIDA will be stopped (cold ironing).

During winter operation, a load-dependent start and stop of the LNG-Hybrid Barge’s gas engines is provided. An additional challenge is the handling of the electrical power cable due to the large tide range of approximately three metres in the Hamburg harbour.

Financial incentives via governments that border the Baltic Sea, along with more stringent emissions criteria handed down from the IMO have made vessels like Hummel a symbol of the future maritime landscape.

AIDA Cruises notes that all of their ships built after 2007 are “shore power ready” however the AIDAprima was designed with a number of other bells and whistles that will make her undoubtably, the most environmentally-friendly cruise ship in the world.

First off, she’s powered by a pair of Caterpillar – MaK 12 cylinder M46DF dual fuel medium speed engines which allow her to burn natural gas, heavy fuel oil or marine gas oil. These two engines mark MaK’s first two dual fuel marine engines ever installed aboard a ship.

Considering cruise ships spend upwards of 40 percent of the time in port, operating on LNG provides an extremely clean-burning solution.  For other times when burning LNG isn’t the best option, AIDAprima is outfitted with an exhaust gas after-treatment which removes 90 to 99 percent of all particulate matter, NOx and SOx emissions.

Beyond the prime movers, Switzerland-based ABB supplied the ship’s complete electrical system including generators, and transformers for propulsion, engine room and distribution, frequency converters, bow thruster motors, and other related power system equipment.

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Simplified single line diagram of the power plant with a propulsion system, via ABB

Providing thrust will be a pair of ABB’s latest generation 14 megawatt XO 2100 Azipods.

Another industry-first is the installation of the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System, or MALS which pumps air underneath the ship to reduce the hull’s skin friction resistance while moving through the water.

This ship isn’t just about saving energy however, but also minimizing environmental impact.  With room for around 3,300 passengers, waste management was also an area AIDA put a great deal of emphasis into.  The company notes, metal is pressed and glass is broken down to save storage space.  In addition, food waste is compacted to dehydrate it, resulting in a biologically degradable substance.

In addition, AIDAprima utilizes a ballast water treatment system to remove invasive species from ballast water tanks.

Both the AIDAprima and her sister vessel are under construction at the Nagasaki Shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. in Japan and are planned for delivery in 2015 and 2016 respectively.  The vessels are 124,500 gross tons and measure 300 meters in length overall and have a beam of of 37.60 meters.  AIDAprima can accommodate around 3,300 passengers and will depart on its maiden voyage from Yokohama on October 1, 2015.

The Hummel will be utilized at the start of the 2015 cruise season to power the AIDAsol while it is berthed in the port of Hamburg.