While this may look like any car ferry carrying people and vehicles in an estuary on the Norwegian coast, this 80-meter ship, called MV Ampere, had one of the world's first fully powered electric maritime architectures, with virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions and quiet operation for clean transportation.
Launched by Norled Shipping Company in 2015, Ampere represented the beginning of an important trend in hybridization and electrification in the marine industry. Since then, many forward-thinking operators of fishing boats such as trawler, fish farming boat, tugboat and steamer with cars have embraced the new wave represented by green energy and propulsion systems. Since these types of vessels spend most of their time working close to the shore, they are subject to strict legal regulations to reduce harmful air emissions.
World's first all-electric car and passenger ferry
Norwegian ferry the MV Ampere is the world's first all-electric car and passenger ferry, powered by two 450 kW electric motors with 10t lithium-ion batteries.
When one of the leading players in electrification needed an energy efficient cooling circuit for the ferry's racks of batteries, they reached out to Parker's High Pressure Connectors Europe (HPCE) Division in Annemasse, France. Their request was for an innovative solution that would be easy to install and test while offering low maintenance, leak-free and energy efficient performance.
"We proposed a solution with couplings that would not allow any fluid to leak out. We eliminated the tubing and the fittings so it's just couplings, manifold and the connection is done."
Liana Jaskot, product unit manager, Parker High Pressure Connectors Europe
Working directly with the partner's engineering experts, the Parker team developed a proprietary ready-to-use solution that reduced the overall number of components by almost 80%, reduced assembly time for the customer by approximately 90% and completely eliminated the risk of mixing connections and the need for testing.
Parker went from design to manufacture to implementation of the thermal management manifold connector in only six months. During just one year of operation, an electric ferry like the Ampere saves approximately one million liters of diesel fuel, 2,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide and 35 metric tons of nitrogen oxide emissions.
Historically, watercraft were heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Diesel electric ships used an internal combustion engine connected to an electric generator, while power was transferred to the propeller shaft via an AC inverter and electric motor. However, this traditional power and propulsion system began to develop in quite exciting ways. Advances in the field of hybridization and electrification have led to new architectures with some specific performance advantages, especially in the field of energy efficiency.
So what are the options for more environmentally friendly watercraft?
- Series hybrids that use a built-in motor to power the generator and the propeller is rotated by an electric motor.
- Batteries can also be used to provide energy storage capability.
- For parallel hybrids, the motor is mechanically connected to the driveshaft and an electric motor.
- The propeller can be powered by the motor or electric motor, and power can be supplied from both sources simultaneously.
- Fully electric systems using lithium-ion batteries to power electric motors.
The architecture chosen largely depends on the type of work cycle of the ships concerned. However, there is one fixed factor, regardless of the final choice, ship operators are seeking ways to maximize the overall performance of the ship by achieving maximum energy efficiency in all systems on the ship. This is achieved by the seamless integration of power drive with other technologies, such as hydraulics, which are commonly used to manage steering systems and gearbox lubrication, and to power auxiliary systems such as spring ramps and drive ramps, whether they are serial hybrid, parallel hybrid or full electric.
Overcoming integration challenges There are several points to consider when integrating energy-saving hydraulic systems. For example, switching to battery-powered systems in maritime means that attention should be paid to how to optimize the amount of battery power to be installed. Heavy battery arrays are still very expensive and take up a lot of space on the ship. Therefore, the energy consumption of all built-in systems must be evaluated, up to the coffee machines on the ship.
First of all, traditional hydraulic power units on older stock diesel engine ships traditionally need oversized pumps and engines to provide performance when the system requires the highest duty cycle. However, since energy costs are an ever-increasing problem, and environmental regulations become more stringent, wasted energy and high CO2 emissions are becoming increasingly problematic in marine applications. This requires the transition to more efficient systems where power is adjusted to the needs of specific tasks.
As a result, new technologies such as drive-controlled pump systems offer a more synergistic approach, in which hydraulic power units, frequency drives, electric motors and hydraulic pumps are successfully integrated to meet every local load demand in a hydraulic system. Specifically, variable frequency drives provide the precise, variable pressure and flow required in the machine or at any point in the duty cycle by managing the working torque and speed of the electric motor. Drive control; It is guided using field-tested control algorithms designed to provide reliable, standardized and customizable hydraulic functions.
These technical challenges have encouraged traditional hydraulic component suppliers to keep up with the age and become motion control experts who can understand the complex connection between a range of electrohydraulic technologies and control systems. Our response as Parker was to combine hydraulic, pneumatic and electromechanical sections to create a special Motion Systems Group with technical expertise in maritime environments.
Electrification provides advantages in connection The trend towards energy efficiency in hybrid and electric watercraft has not stopped with the establishment of state-of-the-art modern motion systems such as drive-controlled pump solutions. With the advent of the Internet of Things, it is now possible to use versatile digital ecosystems in watercraft, which enable the electronic control hardware and software to be reliably connected to the cloud. This link provides many benefits by providing ship operators with real-time access to many (many) data parameters.
The digital integration implemented with the use of mobile IoT can provide valuable insights into the instantaneous state of the hydraulic equipment, which makes it possible to continuously monitor a number of variables such as engine revolutions, torque and other motion system parameters. The ability to share this data by assigning multi-tiered user types and permissions means maintenance is more predictable; this improves service time and supports more efficient work. As a result, mobile IoT brings a more cost-effective, energy-saving and environmentally friendly way of working as a groundbreaking element in marine environments.
Looking ahead, the widespread use of 5G wireless systems promises even higher connectivity levels, enabling much higher levels of data transmission with lower latency. This will likely result in a new IoT-enabled way of working in the maritime industry, especially in port logistics and route planning where energy will be used more efficiently.
Technologies such as 5G will also support increased use of automation on smarter ships of the future. Automating onboard operations is seen as a valuable way to save time and money while reducing the need for crew onboard will also reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. These days, most major maritime organizations are investing heavily in IoT / automation research, and ship autonomy has become a global trend.
It is clear that more environmentally friendly ways of working in maritime settings offer many opportunities for technical improvement. Boats such as trolleys and workboats are becoming more environmentally friendly and more efficient, which makes the maximum use of the power installed on the ship. Electrification also brings advanced connectivity possibilities, giving operators real-time information about the performance of basic equipment such as hydraulics. In short, greener ships are better ones, and this will benefit everyone.
This revolutionary vessel not only represents an early success in electrification for clean transportation within the marine industry, it is a huge opportunity in the fast growing thermal management market. It's a beacon of purpose—and what can happen when Parker partners with customers to apply its core technologies to make a positive impact on the world.
Written By: Jari Rantanen, Application Development Manager - Industrial Growth Team - Motion Systems Group Europe, Parker Hannifin
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