Variable Engine Speeds Net 27% Fuel Savings On Container Ships


Container ships account for much of the pollution along the world’s coastlines, their massive engines burning pollutant-laden heavily oil into the air. Robotics company ABB has developed an Onboard DC Grid system that studies show reduces fuel consumption by 27%, and without any exotic power systems.

Companies are going to great lengths to make their fleets more efficient, including the installation of solar panels and even skysails in an effort to reduce energy use. ABB’s system is both more complex, and far more simple than these concepts. Tested on the Dina Star, an offshore platform supply vessel, the Onboard DC Grid system sends power through a single DC circuit to the four massive motors driving the propellers. This allows the engines to operate at different speeds for peak efficiency, which can return up to 27% better fuel economy.

More importantly, the ABB system works with the ship’s autopilot system, which takes care of much of driving out on the open ocean. Even with the computer in charge, the Onboard DC Grid system resulted in a 14% fuel savings, which saves tens of thousands of dollars in fuel every trip, never mind the massive environmental savings. There was also a significant reduction in engine room noise, down some 30%, which ship engineers are sure to be thankful for.

As ABB notes, this is an important step towards partial electrification of the massive container ships we all unknowingly rely upon.

Source: Green Car Congress


Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.