The Return of Steam Propulsion? Voith Says Yes.

Voith SteamTracFor decades the use of steam propulsion has been phased out by monstrous low and medium speed diesels as well as specialized diesel electric systems. But steadily increasing fossil fuel prices in combination with an increased environmental awareness has called for the industry to reduce the environmental impact of ship operations. Voith suggests the solution is steam.

Voith has developed “Voith SteamTrac“, a compact, state-of-the-art, modern waste heat recovery system for marine combustion engines which reduces fuel consumption, toxic emissions and enhances the economy of drivelines.

The operating principle of the system is as follows: the heat from the exhaust system is used to warm up the operating medium in the evaporator to superheated steam. The steam is expanded into the expander and generating mechanical energy which can be fed back into the combustion engine’s crankshaft or to a gearbox power take in (PTI). The operating medium is liquefied downstream the piston expander in a condenser followed by storage into an operating medium tank. The entire process is controlled and monitored by a control module.

Voith SteamTrac-operating-principles
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In short, Voith uses exhaust gas to help propel the ship.

“The effect is significant and appeals to many ship owners,” says Marcel Flipse, Executive Vice President of Voith Turbo Marine SteamTrac, a Netherlands based company. Flipse states that the new technology is suitable for both newly constructed vessels and as retrofits to existing plants. ” ¬†In principle, SteamTracs can be fitted to all combustion engines.” ¬†Possible marine applications include waterway vessels, short sea ships, fishing boats, and ferries. Voith Turbo, the specialist for hydrodynamic drive also hopes to market the technology to rail and industrial applications.