HERCULES was conceived in 2002 as a long-term R&D Programme, to develop new technologies for marine engines. It is the outcome of a joint vision by MAN and WARTSILA (the two major European engine manufacturers), which together hold about 90% of the worlds marine engine market. The HERCULES-C project is Phase III of the HERCULES Programme.
In order to take marine engine technology a step further towards improved sustainability in energy production and total energy economy, an extensive integration of the multitude of the new technologies developed in Phases I and II is required. HERCULES-C addresses this challenge by adopting a combinatory approach for engine thermal processes optimisation, system integration, as well as engine reliability and lifetime.
The first objective of HERCULES-C is to achieve further substantial reductions in fuel consumption, while optimizing power production and usage. This will be achieved through advanced engine developments in combustion and fuel injection, as well as through the optimization of ship energy management and engine technologies supporting transport mission management.
The second objective of HERCULES-C is to achieve near-zero emissions by integrating the various technologies developed in the previous research projects, in Phases I and II.
The third Objective of HERCULES-C is to maintain the technical performance of engines throughout their operational lifetime. This requires advanced materials and tribology developments to improve efficiency and reliability, as well as sensors, monitoring and measurement technologies to improve the controllability and availability of marine power plants.
The project HERCULES-C structure of RTD work comprises 47 subprojects, grouped into 10 Work Packages and 5 Work Package Groups, spanning the complete spectrum of marine diesel engine technology.
The HERCULES-C Project has a duration of 3 years, and a total budget of EUR 17 million. The consortium consists of 22 participants.
More efficient ship engines
International shipping is the most energy efficient mode of mass transport and only a modest contributor to overall greenhouse emissions, An EU-funded project is set to further improve ship engine efficiency to ensure sea transport will grow apace with world trade.
HERCULES has been a long-running research and development programme aimed at to develop the future generation of efficient and clean ship engines.
The project began in 2004 and is now in its third incarnation.
The latest phase of the programme is 'Higher efficiency, reduced emissions, increased reliability and lifetime, engines for ships' (http://www.hercules-c.com (HERCULES-C)) .
The 22-member project builds on developments achieved by its predecessors, and will run from 2012 to 2015.
Through simulations, analysis and design, HERCULES-C aims to reduce fuel consumption of marine diesel engines by 3 % by 2015.
Furthermore, the project aims to reduce ship engine exhaust emissions by 80 % over the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Tier 1 limits, which would be almost zero.
Lastly, the project aims to maintain at most a 5 % divergence from as-new performance of ship engines throughout their 20-year lifespans.
Work began with computational fluid dynamics modelling of gas direct injection and combustion on two- and four-stroke engines.
Next, the project selected optimisation methods, used these for design and manufacture of improved components for both engine types.
The project conducted fuel-spray simulations using several nozzle geometries, leading to a new design for optical investigation of spray properties.
Such investigations were conducted on three test rigs.
Combinations of two-stage turbochargers with emission-reduction systems were tested, achieving IMO Tier III nitrogen oxides (NOx) compliance for a four-stroke engine.
The project manufactured an advanced exhaust gas re-circulation system for that engine, and designed a system for improved intake-valve control.
Furthermore, sensors and analysis tools were developed, while the project also investigated lubrication oil transportation mechanisms in two-stroke engines.
Lastly, the consortium developed a tool for cutting specimens from honing cylinder liners. New designs will result from HERCULES-C's technical work that improve ship engine efficiencies and reduce fuel consumption.
The project will also have exceeded the current standard by reducing greenhouse gas and other emissions to almost zero.
Another outcome will be preservation of nearly-new engine performance throughout the life of the engine.
These developments represent considerable commercial opportunities for European businesses to supply the world market.