Project to improve electric ship technology

No less than 30 organisations concerned with marine engineering are joining forces to find ways of making 'electric ship' technology more commercially viable.

BMT Defence Services is the lead partner in the €23m European Union-funded Pose2idon project (Power Optimised Ship for Environment with Electric Innovative Designs ON board), which begins this month. The ultimate aim of the study is to provide a working guide on how to improve efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of the combined European commercial shipping fleet.

BMT will co-ordinate the activity of the 30-company consortium, which includes Converteam Technology, DCNS, DNV, SAM, Sirehna, GICAN, EMEC and BALance.

The project aims to enhance the electric ship concept so that it can be applied to a wider range of vessels than is currently the case. At present, the principal barrier to adoption in smaller merchant ships is the size of the generating equipment and propulsion motor. Electric auxiliaries, wireless technology and fail safe power distribution will also be studied.

The Pose2idon consortium is focusing on achieving size reduction through the development of new technologies across all aspects of marine electrical engineering. A key element of this will be the application of state-of-the-art High Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) technology, provided by Converteam Technology, that will allow for smaller principal electrical components and an increase in efficiency.

Another important area being studied is the application of harbour shore electrical supplies. Currently the common practice is for merchant ships to run lightly-loaded mechanical generators in harbour, threatening the environment in a sensitive zone. The lack of any propulsion load prevents loading the generators more effectively. The answer is to supply the ship with electricity from shore connections. This does not need technological innovation but the widespread adoption of shore supplies and standardisation of connectors.

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