Rolls-Royce Power Systems has recently announced they will be initiating an even closer association with longtime partner ZF Friedrichshafen AG. The tighter relationship will focus on the development of “the future of marine propulsion systems,” said Dr. Ulrich Dohle, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, in reference to the agreement he inked with Wilhelm Rehm, member of the board of management of ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
According to Dr. Dohle, the collaboration will result in deeper exchanges of information and knowledge relating to the development of new technologies and products to provide customers more fully optimized propulsion solutions. “Through the even closer collaboration with our long-standing partner ZF, we will further expand our systems expertise and, with our MTU engines, will thus be able to provide our customers with optimally matched and innovative propulsion solutions,” said Dr. Dohle in a statement to the press.
More precise details of the collaboration will come in future press releases, as specific projects begin to take place. However, what we do know is that the partners anticipate an expansion of their current collaboration on engines and marine transmissions, and a significant joint R&D effort into alternative marine propulsion systems, with an eye on hybrid propulsion and digitally networked “smart” solutions.
Alternative Marine Propulsion Today
Given the expertise and reputation of the two companies, the kinds of advanced marine propulsion systems that may come out of this new collaboration, will undoubtedly be revolutionary. Until then, there have already been several advances in propulsion that are providing alternatives to traditional gasoline or diesel marine engines.
There are already several electric powered, or “hybrid yachts,” either available, or in the concept phases. There are also some concept yachts that are fully solar powered, and several experimental projects involving hybridization using solar power.
However, most “alternative marine propulsion systems” are currently using a combination of diesel engines and electric engines. The diesel engine charges the batteries of the electric engine much like a diesel generator. One of these is the Italian Mochi Craft LR23m, which has been on the market for almost five years.
Hybrid propulsion systems like this one not only reduce the hours on the diesel engine, and reduce the costs of fuel and the overall carbon footprint of the boat, they have the added advantage of being able to make headway silently, without typical diesel fumes when running off of the electric motor.
Other hybrids currently and in development also use the diesel electric combination, but unlike the Mochi, the diesel engine is not connected to the drive shaft and cannot be used to propel the craft. The diesel only is used to charge the batteries of the electric motor, which provides the only power for propulsion.
All current hybrid technology is limited to motor yachts under 80ft, the gross weight of larger yachts still making diesel engines the only viable means of power. However research continues, and someday a hybrid luxury superyacht may take its rightful place as a leading example of green technology.
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Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (855) 318-6328.