The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) – a UK venture established between private energy and engineering companies and the British Government – has teamed up with manufacturer Teignbridge Propellers, to undertake a two-year project to develop a new propeller type. Described as a high-efficiency propulsion system (HEPS), the propeller will be expected to improve marine sector fuel efficiency by 8% while drastically reducing CO₂ emissions.
The project, which is a part of the ETI’s heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) programme, will incorporate both desk-based design work and hydrodynamic scale testing.
Subsequently, a 14m, twin-hulled research vessel is being built for Teignbridge, specifically for this project, by Exeter Maritime. The boat, Teignbridge says, will serve as a “floating laboratory” for propeller and propulsion kit testing. Teignbridge confirms that the keel has now been laid, and the group expects the vessel to be launched by or in September 2017.
The vessel is set to feature a 4.6m beam, a 0.3m draught and a displacement of approximately 4.5tonnes. Teignbridge adds: “[The test vessel] will be capable of testing a range of propellers, from slow speed with high bollard pull, to high speed in excess of 40knots.” Testing will be made possible via a pod drive arrangement, rated in the region of 260kW and featuring an adjustable shaft angle, positioned between the vessel’s hulls. Larger ship prototypes will be scaled using 1.2m-diameter models, the group explains.
Deborah Stubbs, ETI HEPS project manager, says: “HDVs, including shipping, currently contribute 8% to the UK’s CO₂ emissions. Unlike other forms of transport, it is difficult to replace fossil fuels in marine vessels with low-carbon alternatives – so, increasing fuel efficiency will become progressively more important if emissions and costs are to be reduced for the shipping industry."
According to the ETI, the global OSV fleet alone could be responsible for 95 million tonnes of CO₂ emissions annually. The HDV programme seeks to realise a 30% improvement in fuel efficiency across the marine sector, with elements such as the HEPS project playing a small but crucial role in ensuring this target is met. However, consumers must be willing to adopt such technologies for this goal to be achieved; the ETI notes that the green solutions presented to the market must be “simple, unobtrusive [and] effective”, in order to win over the marine sector.