POSE²IDON (Power Optimised Ship for Environment with Electric Innovative Designs ON board) investigated the potential for the commercially effective application of electric ship technology.
The electric ship concept offers many benefits: among other aspects it offers flexibility of control and effectiveness of power transmission. But predominantly it enables higher energy conversion efficiency by ensuring that prime movers are effectively loaded at all times and across all operating conditions. This dominating advantage cannot be matched by mechanical transmission systems because gearboxes offer little chance of integrating a high number of prime movers in the restricted space of a ship whereas this integration is straight forward when managed electrically. Thus the electric ship concept offers reduced emissions through improved efficiency of engine operation but critically it offers significant reduced emissions during the critical phase of entry to littoral water when with speed generally reduced engines in a mechanical systems become very lightly loaded.
The project dealt with enhancing the electric ship concept so it suits a wider range of vessels than currently. The principal barrier to adoption of the electric ship concept in smaller merchant ships is the size of the generating equipment and propulsion motor. POSE²IDON focussed on achieving size reduction through the development of new technologies across all aspects of marine electrical engineering.
Overall this impact will be significant given the current and anticipated levels of global trade and the proportion to be moved by sea transport. This challenging ambition, to enable the adoption of the electric ship concept in a wider range of merchant ships, will demand the development of new technologies across all of marine electrical engineering:
- High Temperature Superconductivity (HTS): This is a technology that allows smaller principal electrical components and an increase in efficiency.
- Wireless monitoring: This provides simpler internal control communication and enables the adoption of more advanced control regimes
A key element is the application of High Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) technology that will allow for smaller principal electrical components and an increase in efficiency. Additionally, electric auxiliaries, wireless technology and fail safe power distribution will be studied.
The POSE²IDON project provides a working guide on how to improve efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of the combined European commercial shipping fleet and to enhance the electric ship concept so that it can be applied to a wider range of vessels than is currently the case.
The POSE²IDON consortium comprised of 30 companies: 14 industrial companies, 4 shipyards, 6 universities or research institutes, 3 professional associations or consulting companies and 3 classification societies.
POSE²IDON developed technologies so as to increase the the applicability of the electric ship concept in new-built and refitted vessels. More specifically, the project throughout its life duration resulted to:
- A new -active stator- design concept of electric machines reducing their size and weight and increasing their efficiency
- DC network applicability on-board
- HTS (High Temperature Superconductivity) cables application for losses reduction, allowing new design of the power distribution
- Feasibility of the electrification of all auxiliaries and demonstration of potential efficiency increase
- Short connection standardisation (on the basis of modular power electronic converters)
- Arc fault optical detection improving the protection of electric switchboards
- Feasibility demonstration of a wireless control concept
The wireless control concept is continued to be developed through a national R&D funding programme.
The project intended to merge basic research together with product innovation and new concepts of system architecture.
The electric ship concept is expected to have strong environmental impact and higher efficiency due to fuel reduction. During a demonstration concerning Offshore Survey Vessels (OSV) and Large Ferries, it was shown that that the fuel consumption could be reduced by 9% with the an electric solution in despite of a small total weight increase.
The project did not reach its 20% objective of fuel savings due to delays during its implementation, which led to the exclusion of elements which would be able to better the technology performance (e.g. adoption of DC low voltage grid, multi-phase electric machines or optimal energy management system). However, the project deems that the 20% fuel saving objective is realistic if the research on HTS machines achieves industrial maturity.
Innovating for the future: promoting more sustainable development
The construction of all elements was not possible in the dedicated 4-year time frame of the project. POSE²IDON highlighted the urgency to increase R&D efforts of the maritime electric industry on subjects concerning the electric or hybrid propulsion, the energy recovery and the energy management.